Mount Garfield

Date of Hike: 1/20/14

Gale River Road: 1.2 miles/ Garfield Trail: 4.8 miles / Garfield Ridge Trail: 0.4 miles / Garfield Trail: 4.8 miles / Gale River Road: 1.2 miles
12.4 miles (3,400 feet elevation gained)
Click here for trail descriptions

Trip Report
- Mount Garfield in the winter is usually done as an out and back starting at the gate located at the south end of the Gale River Loop Road.  The hike is twelve miles but is relatively tame as the only steep section is the final few tenths of a mile on the Garfield Ridge Trail just below the summit.  The first mile or so is a road walk along the Gale River Loop Road to the summer trailhead.
- I have hiked Mount Garfield before in the winter.  The first time was a hike of Garfield, Galehead, South Twin, North Twin, back over South Twin, down to the Gale River Road and walked in the snow back to my car (Click here for that report). 
-  On this day I would be joining Whitney, Tim, and Chris.  Whitney is working on finishing her 48-4,000 footers in the winter, this would be #19 for her as she is hoping to finish before heading to Georgia in March for her hike of the A.T. (Click here for her blog).  Whitney, recently was selected to be an Appalachian Trail ambassadors for her 2014 thru-hike. On her hike she will be supplied with Osprey Packs, NEMO Equipment, Darn Tough Vermont Socks, and LEKI. Congrats, Whitney!
-  We hiked at a nice brisk pace up the old fire warden road that makes up the Garfield Trail.  The trail corridor is one of the most well defined in all of the White Mountains.  There are a couple of low water crossings along the way which were a little tricky since they weren't snow-bridged, which is extremely unusual for this time of year.  At the first crossing I tried to go downstream to take a picture of everyone crossing and I fell through!  Luckily, I was fine and my old boots amazingly are still solidly waterproof.
- There isn't anything too exciting about the Garfield Trail.  It definitely is a better hike in the winter with everything covered in snow.  Tim, pointed out some old telephone wire that ran up to the old observation tower.  He also said there are old poles that people mistake for trees.  I kept looking for them but never could locate them, I think I looked for them before unsuccessfully.
-  We took a nice break to eat at the junction with the Garfield ridge Trail before the steep burst up to the summit.  Without having traction on it made the final push up to the summit a little difficult as I kept slipping back and into the snow.
- There were no views to be had from the summit so we didn't stay long, just a couple of pictures snapped before butt sledding and boot skiing back down to the junction.  I ran ahead and bounced off one tree, taking a shot to the ribs but I was fine and shook it off.
- The hike out was great, I was happy to be losing elevation as my fingers were very cold.  Even with mittens and hand warmers my fingers now have bad circulation, they eventually warmed up and I was fine by 3,000 feet.
- Tim cleared three blow-downs on the way out with his hand saw.  I was messing around and kicked off a lingering branch that snapped back and nailed me in the face, it friggan hurt like hell, thank god for the snow which I shoved between my hat and forehead!  I was fine, no swelling or headache!
- The final stretch along the Gale River Road was a perfect way to end three days of hiking, the snow was falling and it seems like winter is finally coming to the Whites.  Just need one big blizzard and it'll be perfect!
 Gale River Loop Road
 Stream crossing on the Garfield Trail
 Garfield Trail
 Chris's bright blue coat sticking out in the snow white surrounding
 Looking up at two majestic pines
 Whitney leading the way to the Garfield Ridge
 Garfield Ridge Trail Junction
 Mount Garfield Summit
 Tim clearing a blow down
 Chris and Tim successfully crossing the brook
 Bridge over the Gale River


  1. Nice ! I love seeing the trails in Winter, as I've only done Garfield in the summer :)

    1. Wendy, hope you get to hike it in the Winter. As long as the crossings are snow bridged it's an easier hike with all the rocks and roots beneath the snow!

  2. Hi Chris,

    As I've stated many times before, your reports and photos are beyond terrific!

    For this particular adventure, we nearly met up with each other! From previous photos that you've posted, I recognized your vehicle at the winter trailhead. I live only about 10 minutes away, and at late afternoon drove over to the trailhead just to do a short trek along the Gale River Loop Road. You were gone when I returned, but you might have noticed my car. It was the red Honda Element.


    1. I do remember seeing a red Honda Element! If you ever see me out there stop me and say hi! Sometimes I'm in a 'hiking zone' but I love to talk to people that I run into! :)

  3. Looks wonderful....I've been staying in the valleys the last couple months and playing it safe. Not much of an experienced winter hiker. Is this trail relatively areas of the trail with cliffs to worry about falling off? Im looking for a few peaks to attempt to get some views that are not too dangerous. I hiked the black angel trail this summer in dry conditions and there were some tricky spots at the top I couldn't imagine attempting when it iced up.


    1. Hi Jason. If you want the best views for a relatively easy and safe hike, head to Mount Pierce. There's always people on the trail and the views on a clear day in the winter are phenomenal! Garfield is an easy hike, the last few tenths of a mile is steep but there is nothing dangerous. and the views from the summit are great, too. Also you can hike the Sugarloafs on Zealand Road. Easy little hike with kick ass views!

      Hope this helps, if you have anymore questions you can email me at

    2. Awesome Chris. I'll be sure to check at least one of these out before it warms up. Thanks so much!


  4. Hi Chris. You're blogs are always great for the awesome pictures and trip reports. I really like the new Garmin GPS module. I'll be looking forward to your next report and be safe out there.

    1. Thank you Brian, glad you like the pictures! I love the Garmin GPS stuff, the whole map thing is cool!