There are three Garfield Mountains along the Garfield Ridge Trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness (of New Hampshire’s White Mountains), although you’re probably only familiar with the tallest one on the four thousand footer list. The other two peaks, West (3667′) and East Garfield (3590′), are short bushwhacks off the main trail, both on the more esoteric New Hampshire Hundred Highest list. Of these, East Garfield has great views from an open ledge and is not to be missed.
West Garfield is easy to find since it the first peak beyond the Franconia Brook/Garfield Ridge Trail Junction on the Appalachian Trail en route to Galehead Hut (heading east). East Garfield is the fourth bump (topographically speaking) heading east from Garfield. Cone-shaped, it’s quite easy to tell when you’ve started climbing it if you pay attention to the trail’s ups and downs.
While the bushwhack detours to these two additional peaks are rather easy, hiking into the Wilderness to climb all three Garfield makes for a very long day hike. I backpacked them over the span of two days, which was still strenuous in the heat of mid-August, although you can also stretch out this hike to a more relaxing three days, by stopping at the Thirteen Falls cascades, swimming hole, and tent site below Galehead Mountain.
Taking this route makes it easy to set up a backpacking loop that begins and ends at the Lincoln Woods trail head, runs up to the 13 Falls campsite along the Franconia Brook Trail and loops to the three peaks along the Franconia Brook Trail, the Garfield Ridge Trail (Appalachian Trail) and back down to 13 falls via the Twin Brook Trail (after a stop at the Galehead Hut for water and cake).
Here’s a breakdown of the route if this adventure strikes your fancy.
- Park at Lincoln Woods trail head
- Lincoln Woods Trail (formerly called the Wilderness Trail) to Franconia Brook Trail Junction (2.9 miles w/300′ elevation gain)
- Franconia Brook Trail to 13 Falls Campsite (5.2 miles w/750′ of elevation gain)
- Franconia Brook Trail to Garfield Ridge Trail Junction (2.2 miles with 1250′ of elevation gain)
- Garfield Ridge Trail to Mt Garfield Summit (0.9 miles with 1040′ of elevation gain)
- Mt Garfield Summit to Garfield Pond (you can skip this detour if you want to camp at the Mt Garfield campsite just below the summit) (0.5 miles, all descent)
- Garfield Pond to Mt Garfield (0.5 miles, w/ 500′ of elevation gain)
- Mt Garfield Trail to Franconia Brook Trail Junction (0.9 miles, all descent)
- Franconia Brook Trail Junction to West Garfield Height of Land on Mt Garfield Trail (0.2 miles with 275′ of elevation gain)
- Bushwhack from West Garfield Height of Land to summit and back (negligible)
- West Garfield Height of Land to East Garfield Height of Land on Mt Garfield Trail (0.85 miles with 275′ of elevation gain)
- Bushwhack from East Garfield Height of Land to summit and back (negligible)
- East Garfield Height of Land to Galehead Hut on Mt Garfield Trail (0.75 with 450′ of elevation gain)
- Twin Brook Trail: Galehead Hut to 13 Falls Tent Site (2.7 mile, all descent)
- 13 Falls Tent Site to Lincoln Woods Trail Junction on Franconia Brook Trail (5.2 miles, basically flat)
- Lincoln Woods trail to Lincoln Wood trail head (2.9 miles, basically flat)
Total: 24.1 miles with 4900′ elevation gain