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19 February 2018

A Winter Trek to Mt. Crawford (New Hampshire)


BACKGROUND:

Mt. Crawford, Crawford Notch, Crawford Path are some of the more familiar places in the upper Saco River valley that are named in honor of the Crawford family who settled in this area during the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Regarding the mountain named Mt. Crawford, it provides one of the most outstanding viewpoints in the White Mountains.  By walking around the nearly barren summit, you can get 360-degree views.  I particularly like the views that include: Stairs Mountain; Crawford Notch and its surrounding peaks; Mt. Washington and the southern Presidential Range.

By starting at the trailhead on the east side of U.S. 302, the one-way distance to the top of Mt. Crawford is only 2.5 miles, but it’s a relatively steep climb with an elevation gain of about 2,125 feet.  The hike begins by hiking along the Davis Path for 2.2 miles to a signed junction with the Mt. Crawford Spur.  This 0.3 mile spur trail leads you to the top of Mt. Crawford.

Although the hike to Mt. Crawford is fun and rewarding at any season of the year, the subject of this blog posting is a wintertime trek to this magnificent mountaintop.  A winter season adventure almost always involves the use of snowshoes, and there are times when you might need even more aggressive footwear (Microspikes, crampons, etc) if ice has formed on the bare rock ledges at the upper end of the hike.

Also during wintertime, you need to be aware that on the upper ledge PRIOR TO the Mt. Crawford Spur path, there is a right turn that can easily be missed during snow-covered conditions.  Without snow-cover, this turn isn’t much of an issue since the pathway is more obvious, plus there is blazing on the exposed rock surface to guide you.

And so, with no further ado, shown below are some photos taken on this winter trek to Mt. Crawford.

PHOTOS:


1) Near the beginning of the hike is this view from the suspension footbridge looking northward up the Saco River.

2) On the day of the hike, there was a nice snowshoe track all the way from the suspension footbridge to the summit of Mt. Crawford.  This photo shows the snowshoe track on the large ledge that is located on the spur path to the summit.

3) Crawford Notch and surrounding mountains. At LEFT: Mts. Willey, Field, Tom and Avalon; At RIGHT: Mts. Webster and Jackson; in foreground at bottom left are the Frankenstein Cliffs.
4) A broader view from Mt. Crawford looking northward:  At LEFT: Crawford Notch and surrounding peaks.  At RIGHT: the long ridge of the Southern Presidential Range.  At the top of the ridge is Mt. Washington.

5) Highly-zoomed photo of Mt. Washington, as viewed from summit of Mt. Crawford.

6) This photo features (from L to R) the southern Presidential Range (mostly in clouds); Mt. Washington; Stairs Mountain; a piece of Mt. Resolution.

7) A close-up of Stairs Mountain

8) Highly-zoomed photo of Mt. Chocorua and the Sisters on horizon with Bear Mountain in foreground.

9) On my descent, this photo was taken looking southward from one of the lower ledges along the route to Mt. Crawford.  Just a lovely view of mountain, after mountain, after mountain! :-)

TO SUM IT UP:

Besides enjoying the outdoor experience of hiking to Mt. Crawford, I also enjoy reminiscing about some of the history associated with it.

Around 1800, not far from the present-day trailhead, there was an inn and tavern named Mount Crawford House.  Over the years, famous guests included Daniel Webster and President Franklin Pierce.

Between 1844 and 1845, Nathaniel T.P. Davis built the Davis Path, which is the trail used for the majority of this hike.  Amazingly, this trail was constructed as a 15-mile bridle path leading from the Mount Crawford House to the top of Mt. Washington.  Some of the most grueling construction and greatest expense is said to have occurred on the steep section of trail headed toward Mt. Crawford.