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Mt Willard in Crawford Notch

Crawford Notch in Winter, seen from Mt Willard
Crawford Notch in Winter, seen from Mt Willard

I was back in the White Mountains hiked Mt Willard in Crawford Notch. Crawford has snow and I actually got to break trail in snowshoes on my ascent up Willard. Breaking trail is hard work, but I like the feeling of solitude.

My original plan was to bag Willard and Mt Avalon on the same day, but I couldn’t make it across a big stream crossing at the base of the A-Z trail on the way to Avalon. It was just too hazardous. The streams are not frozen yet in the Whites, which makes route planning tough this time of year.

So I about-faced and climbed Willard by itself, where the one stream crossing was more straightforward. It required a little bushwhacking to find a good crossing point that was shallow, without ice ledges, but after that it was an easy climb up an old carriage road.

Along the way, I saw a lot of fresh moose tracks, walking up the trail and across it into the surrounding forest. I’m not sure what attracts Moose to this area, but there are a lot of them in Crawford Notch, especially down by Nancy Pond, and along Clinton Road, early in the morning.

Mt Willard (2,865 ft) from the Silver Cascade Waterfall
Mt Willard (2,865 ft) from the Silver Cascade Waterfall

Normally I would not have considered hiking up Mt Willard, but it’s on the New Hampshire 52 with a view peakbagging list which I’ve started and have really gotten hooked on. It is perfect for winter day-hiking, and the views really are tremendous.

Willard is located at the northern end of Crawford Notch, just below the AMC Highland Center and it has a commanding view of the surrounding peaks from its southern ledges. Mt Webster (3,910 ft) is located to the northeast, and you can just make out Mt Jackson (4,052 ft) and Mt Pierce (4,310 ft)  to the north of it, along the Southern Presidential ridge. The enormous massif of Mt Wiley (4, 282 ft) is to the southwest along with Mt Field (4, 340 ft), just a bit northwest of it.

Mt Webster and the Webster Cliff Trail (AT)
Mt Webster and the Webster Cliff Trail (AT)

As usual, my timing was impeccable and I popped out of the forest onto Willard’s southern ledges just as the sky cleared and the sun came out. There was virtually no wind, so I had a bite to eat and hiked back and forth on the 100 yard wide ledge taking in the views and playing with my camera. This must be an incredible place to hang out early on a summer morning before anyone arrives and I want to get back to Willard then. The 52 with a View.

The round trip distance of this hike is 3.2 miles with 920 feet of elevation gain.

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8 comments

  1. Great article! Thanks for sharing Philip!!

  2. Willard is a great hike. It was my son's first major hike when he was two and I was so proud that he made it up on his own that I carried him the entire way down on my shoulders. One of my favorite photos in the Whites is a shot my wife took of he and I enjoying the views together after he made it up.

    I was at the water crossing you mention on Thanksgiving Day, and it was pretty tricky then as well. We spent about 10 minutes looking for a way across and it was definitely slow going. Hopefully we'll see some sustained snow buildup and cold weather!

  3. Peter – thanks for sending that photo along – a great shot with your son.

    We need a deep freeze and about 4 feet of snow to make me happy. I want to dig some snow kitchens. Cheers.

  4. Excellent – looking beautiful up there.

  5. Chris – check out this video of the ice climb up the front face of Mt Willard. I took the back (easy) way.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XktKsnBdST0

  6. Nice post and nice photos! What kind of camera do you take with you on your hikes?

  7. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. Awesome compact digital camera (10mb), particularly for low light early morning and sunset shots. Not particularly good for long distance zoom shots, which makes good photo composition doubly important when using it. These photos were taken with a UV filter and a polarizing filter (separately). I've had very good results with the camera. I've taken about 4000 photos with it this year.

  8. Thanks Earlylite! I have been using the Olympus Tough cameras in recent years. The camera is surely tough but the photos are hit or miss. I will be sure to check out the Panasonic.

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