Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Up Eisenhower Back to Pierce and Out Jackson

After some wet, warm and humid weather this past week there was clearing skies, milder temps and diminishing humidity in the forecast. My hike today would take me to three summits. Going up the Crawford path I would be hiking to Mount Eisenhower then backtrack over to Mount Pierce continuing on the Webster Cliff Trail to Mount Jackson and down the Jackson Branch Trail and finally the Webster-Jackson Trail. This would be an almost 12 mile solo hike.

I was on my way to the trailhead before sunrise. There were a lot of clouds over all the summits but otherwise blue sky. It was not looking very promising for views as I got closer to the trailhead. The Presidentials were cloaked in a heavy cloud cover that did not seem to be budging. When I got to the parking area along Route 302 the clouds were lifting on the opposite side of Crawford Notch from where I was going. The Willey Range was in the clear with just some lingering clouds below. Clouds were hanging tight on the Presidential summits.

Now here is the funny part, I had no idea where the Crawford Path trailhead was. I have always used the Crawford Connector from the Mount Clinton Road parking area and have hiked this many times. I drove back and forth along Route 302 looking for a sign where I thought it might be. I finally saw some wooden steps going up into the woods. I parked beside the road and ran up the steps and sure enough there was the signage for the Crawford Path. I drove back down the road to the parking area across from the Webster-Jackson Trail where I would be finishing my hike later today.

There was a short road walk to the Crawford Path. I walked past Saco Lake and Crawford Depot as the clouds were continuing to slowly lift, emphasis on slowly. I ascended the wooden steps and was on my way up the Crawford Path. There must have been a lot of rain overnight because the trail was very wet. The first hiker I saw today looked familiar, it was Rich who has a webpage, The Adventures of Miles and Smiles. I have been following his hiking adventures and his face looked familiar but when I saw the stuffed monkees on his pack I knew it was him.

When I passed the Mizpah Cutoff Trail junction the woods were dark and misty. I knew that was the low cloud cover and that it had not cleared yet. No views and a low visibility hike to Eisenhower was crossing my mind. As I got higher up the trail the sky started to brighten. At the first view toward Eisenhower I could see that the clouds were blowing away at great speed. The wind was really whipping them by.

I stopped at the Webster Cliff Trail junction to get a video of the clouds moving over the southern Presidential summits. It was quite a sight to see and that was the direction I was going in. I continued on the Crawford Path. As I came around a bend in the trail I saw another familiar face, it was Dan, an extraordinary hiker whose hiking adventures I have been following for several years but had never met him until now. Dan was attempting a White Mountains hut-to-hut traverse but stopped short of his goal due to some arduous weather conditions. We chatted for a few minutes and then parted in opposite directions. Very cool to finally meet Dan!

The clouds were just about gone as I made my way over to Eisenhower but there was a very cool wind blowing. As long as I kept moving it wasn't too bad but my plan was to add another layer on the leeward side of the mountain before reaching the summit. I was starting to see more hikers on the trail and knew I probably would not be alone when I reached the top. When I reached the loop trail junction I put on another layer. I arrived on the summit just as the only hiker up there was leaving and it wasn't long before more hikers arrived. There was a very cool wind blowing but there was some protection behind the large summit cairn. I got my photos and video then proceeded to commence my descent as other hikers continued to arrive.

I was soon out of the worst of the wind and was able to remove my outer layer. It was a nice hike back over to Mount Pierce with many more hikers on their way to Eisenhower. When I got to the top of Pierce I stopped short of the summit cairn. There were many hikers up there sitting around with their hiking gear draped over the cairn. This is kind of a pet peeve with me. I like to take my few summit pics then move just off to the side of the summit when possible so that other hikers may have their few moments to themselves on the summit. I just consider it common courtesy.

I kept going past the summit and on my descent I found a sunny spot to change to shorts and short sleeves as it was warming up nicely. I continued my descent down to Mizpah Hut and ate my lunch there. It was then onward to my last summit of the day, Mount Jackson. There are many bog bridges along this section of the Webster Cliff Trail. At one point the bog bridges actually crossed over a bog with deep mud that appeared to be more quicksand than mud. It was on this bridge that I met another familiar face, Richard whose hikes I have been following for a long time. It was later that I remembered I had met him once before in the parking lot at a trailhead prior to our hikes that day. Always nice to see familiar faces along the trail!

As I made my way up Mount Jackson I could feel the wind picking up. At the summit there was a steady wind blowing making it very cool. There were many hikers up there and many more arriving. I got my pics and video and started my final descent for today. It was a nice hike down and I passed many hikers on their way up. Mount Jackson was a very popular hiking destination today. When I got to the trailhead my car was parked on the other side of the road and it took some time before I could cross due to a lot of traffic.

I have hiked Eisenhower, Pierce and Jackson many times before but never in July. What began as questionable weather early this morning turned out to be a spectacular day of hiking in the White Mountains!

Enjoy the photos and videos!

Just before sunrise on my drive to the hike

Clouds billow up over Madison and Adams

Presidentials are cloud covered in the early morning

Saco Lake on my walk to the trailhead

Clouds are lifting

Clouds are still low over Crawford Depot

Steps lead to the Crawford Path

Passing by the bridge over Gibbs Brook

Watching my step on wet ledge

Muddy section of the Crawford Path

Eisenhower and Washington as clouds are clearing

Summit cairn on Mount Eisenhower through a receding cloud cover

View from the Webster Cliff Trail junction

Finally met Dan on the trail after following his amazing hiking adventures 

Lots of bog bridges today

Labrador Tea

Eisenhower up ahead

A watery path

Mountain cranberry

Last wisp of clouds leaving

Mount Washington

A view to the north on Mount Eisenhower

Standing on the windy summit of Mount Eisenhower

A view to the west from Eisenhower

A view of the Willey Range from Eisenhower

Tripod setup for trail work

Descending Eisenhower

A wet spot on the Crawford Path

A look back at Eisenhower

A view from the Crawford Path

View from Mount Pierce

Standing on Mount Pierce

Bog bridges on the Webster Cliff Trail

More bog bridges

A view of Mount Jackson

Descending ladder on the Webster Cliff Trail

Mizpah Spring Hut

Zooming in on Mount Jackson

Mount Jackson up ahead

Looking back

Mountain laurel

Walking the bog bridge

Muddy bog

A fall off this bog bridge would be into deep quicksand-like mud

The climb to Mount Jackson

A view from Mount Jackson

Zooming in on Mizpah Spring Hut

Looking back to Eisenhower and Pierce from where I hiked from

Mount Carrigain

Sitting on Mount Pierce away from the crowd

Descending Mount Jackson

Easy water crossing

Down at the trailhead and the end of my hike

Stopping on the drive home to view the mountains from today's hike

Presidential summits in the clear

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Thanks again Don for an enjoyable vicarious adventure.

    1. You're Welcome! Glad you enjoyed the adventure!