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The Tom, Field, and Avalon Loop in Crawford Notch

Mt Tom
Mt Tom (4051′)

I led an Appalachian Mountain Club hike on Sunday to two White Mountain 4000 footers named Mount Tom (4051′) and Mount Field (4340′) in Crawford Notch. These peaks are fairly easy to climb and the trails leading to them are usually well packed out because they’re so close to the AMC’s Highland Center. On our return trip. we climbed Mt Avalon (3442′) which has fantastic views of Mt Washington and the Presidentials, Franconia Ridge, and Crawford Notch. It was beautiful day, though a bit frosty to start, with a really nice group.

We met at the Highland Center Lot because the Crawford depot hadn’t been plowed out and got started onto the trail by 8:20 am. The trails were broken and all of the stream crossings at the beginning of the A-Z trail were bridged. The snow was a bit soft but still bare-bootable, but we put on microspikes about a mile from the trailhead for better traction on the climb up to Tom.

I was carrying a little extra weight in my pack in order to train up for a backpacking trip next weekend to Whiteface and Passaconaway. This being my first hike since New Year’s, I was definitely feeling the effects of a week of overindulgence. Got to get back into shape, in a hurry!

Chris and Philip on Mt Tom
Chris and Philip on Mt Tom

My co-leader Bryan and I were joined by five other hikers, none from the Boston Chapter of the AMC which was a nice change of pace. Not that I mind hiking with my friends from Boston, but it’s always nice to meet some new hikers from other areas.

Zeacliff, Zealand, Guyot, and Mt Bond
Zeacliff, Zealand, Guyot, and Mt Bond

We made very good time up to Mt Tom and then lingered at the many viewpoints on the mountain. I haven’t been on Mt Tom in winter for a few years and it seems like there are a few more viewpoints than I remember. On the west side, there’s an excellent viewpoint of Mt Bond, Guyot, Zealand, Hale, and the Twins and on the east side, we had clear views of Washington, the Presidentials and the Dartmouth/Deception Range.

Mt Field
Mt Field (4340′)

We also had an excellent view of Mt Field, the next peak on our route. It looked immense in the distance, but was relatively easy to climb up on a gradually sloping forested track. We had a snack on the summit and two friends of mine, John and June, popped out of the woods and joined us at the summit. They maintain the upper part of the Jewell Trail on Mount Washington, above the shorter section of the Jewell Spur that I’ve been maintaining for the past few years. It was really nice to catch up with them and swap stories about exploring the Pemi, off the beaten path.

Webster Cliff
Webster Cliff and Crawford Notch

After Field, we headed down to Mt Avalon which had the best views of the day. The trail down is quite steep though, and a certain amount of butt sliding was “necessary.” From Avalon, we had great views of Webster Cliff and Crawford Notch, Field, Tom, and the Presidentials.

Tom, Field, Avalon Loop
Tom, Field, Avalon Loop

From Avalon, we looped back to the A-Z trail with more butt-sliding down the very steep trail and hiked back to the trailhead in short order. Finally – some nice winter weather in the Whites after a tough December.

Total mileage: 7.3 miles, Time: 6:00

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  1. Phil, did the White’s get the rain from last week? Was the trail icy and to what degree? We are thinking of doing Washington via Lions Head this w/e. I am wondering if it is just going to be a sheet of ice under the few inches of snow. thanks

    • The Whites are a big place. If you’re going to climb Washington, best to brush up on your forecast and trail condition interpretation skills. And it’s supposed to rain on Saturday night and Sunday in many parts of the Whites this weekend, and there is always ice on Mt Washington in winter.

      • I have done a winter hike up to the summit the past 3 years and all 3 have had temps 0 degrees or lower without the windchill. One time a guy from Rhode Island was coming down Lions Head in microspikes and couldn’t get a good enough grab on the hard ice. He slid around 30 feet into me and then another 20 feet into my hiking partner. There is no doubt in my mind he would of went into some trees if we weren’t there to help slow him down.

        • Sorry – I’m always cautious when people ask me about the weather on Mt Washington in winter because they frequently have no idea what they’re biting into. You obviously do.

        • Check out the avalanche forecats for today, too.

          “The very hard slick surfaces that exist, coupled with a strong wind this morning close to 90mph, will make falling in steep terrain is a real concern. Mountaineering experience in these conditions and the ability to execute an immediate self-arrest with your ice ax is essential. Once moving not even the most skilled mountaineers with a lifetime of experience could stop on this surface.”

  2. You left out the most critical piece of gear for that hike, a sled. That is one of the better routes in the whites!

  3. My friend and I hiked Whiteface and Passaconaway the last week in Nov. We took the Dicey’s Mill Trail, Tom Wiggins Trail, and finally Blueberry Ledge Trail to the summit of Whiteface. We had to use our microspikes the top 3/4 mile because of ice. This was my first time there and I was amazed at the views. After we hiked to Passaconaway, we took the Dicey Mill Trail back to Ferncroft. It was my 1st time in the Sandwich Wilderness area. Absolutely beautiful area. Ferncroft has a pretty large parking area. We left at 0430 and got at Ferncroft at 0700. We were the 1st car there and when we returned the parking lot was full. Also there was cars parked along the road leading to the parking area. There was around 35 cars there and I don’t think we saw anymore then 10 hikers. I don’t know if there is a lot of trails that start from Ferncroft or the majority of the hikers took Blueberry Ledge Trail and were just behind us. Enjoy your hike.

    • Ths sandwich range is special, especially when you get off trail. Lots of history in the trees. We’re going to get wet on saturday, but a bunch of us are working on our winter 4ks and we’re just loco about them. Early start on Saturday morning.

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