Mt. Crawford Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 02/09/2019 - 02/09/2019
Trip/Event Location: Bretton Woods, NH
Trip Leader(s): Gandalf
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate
At 3119 ft., Mt Crawford’s location makes it a wonderful vantage point from which to view the White Mountains!
Mt. Crawford is reached by the Davis Path, one of the oldest hiking trails in...
The large Davis Path Trailhead parking lot is located on US 302, 5 miles south of Willey House/Crawford Notch State Park and 12 miles west of Route 16. The Notchland Inn is located almost directly across the street.
An unexpected opportunity! Howling winds, bitter cold but superlative views!!!
Via the Davis Path and Crawford Spur. Approximately 5 miles.
Mt. Crawford: 3,119 feet.
16 degrees at trailhead, 20 degrees on the summit. Winds 18 MPH with peak gust at 33MPH. Wind chill 5 degrees. Clear. Relative humidity at 38%.
Trailhead elevation: 1000 feet. Mt. Crawford Spur: 2,900 feet. Mt. Crawford summit: 3,119 feet.
Occasionally the cosmos tosses you a bone. We were hesitant when we read the summit forecast would be a high of 10 degrees, windy, 30-35 MPH with gusts as high as 65 MPH. Wind chill values as high as 23 below zero. But we also know that these cold days provide superlative views. We were not sure we could even reach the summit with these high winds. That was just our kind of adventure!
We got out of bed promptly. This is a half-day hike so there was not a need to rush. We like these half-day hikes because everything is at a relaxing pace. No getting up at the crack of dawn, we can relax at breakfast sipping coffee and head out when we are ready.
It was sunny all day but cold. No worries, because our plan was to keep moving to stay warm. We put on our MicroSpikes and we were pleased that the trail was broken. The trail bed was frozen granular so some form of traction was necessary.
We always enjoy the start, crossing the impressive suspension bridge over the Saco River. The Davis Path, completed by Nathaniel Davis in 1845, was the longest bridle path constructed to the summit of Mt. Washington. So yes, this trail could take us to the summit of Mt. Washington but that was not our objective for today.
The first bit, in open woods, with a few brook crossings, was a very gentle grade, and we made swift passage. We passed a group of five who asked if this was the trail since they had not seen any blazes. We assured them it was and told them to just follow the broken trail to the summit.
Almost immediately after passing by the path to the tent sites, the fun started. Almost instantly, the trail pitched up rather sharply. That was good because it kept us warm on this very cold day. The path was in decent shape, although there were many frozen post holes here and there that could easily cause an ankle twist if we were not careful.
We could hear the wind howling as we climbed up. We were wondering how bad it would be once we got up to the open ledges. We pressed on.
We reached the first outlook with good views of the surrounding peaks including Mt. Attitash Ski area. It was incredibly windy and cold so we layered up including covering our face to prevent any sort of frostbite. We walked out on the open enjoying the terrific views but the gusty winds would throw us off balance. The trail was a bit hard to follow since snow had covered in the broken trail. We made a wrong turn and found ourselves in this open area. At one point, the wind was so gusty, we almost fell to the ground. We quickly grabbed on to these small trees holding on for dear life! We started thinking, should we continue? Can we even make it? If it’s this windy below the summit, how windy will it be on the summit?
We found the Davis Path once more, minding the trail more carefully. The winds seemed to not be as severe. We reached the Crawford Spur and the sloping ledge was covered in snow. With the winds not as severe, we welcomed this unexpected opportunity to hike up to the summit!
We climbed up with magnificent views of the snowcapped Southern Presidentials with Mt. Washington in its crowning glory! Tremendous view of Stairs Mountain. When we reached the summit, we enjoyed the fantastic views of Crawford Notch, Dry River valley, and the surrounding ridges and peaks. Victory! The day was going better than expected! We got our obligatory selfie summit photo.
It was too cold to have lunch up here so we had it at the junction of the Crawford Spur. Jon took a bunch of photos as we headed back. It was a quick descent and we ran into the group of five almost at the same location we passed them at the start of the hike. Did they even move? It looked like they were having lunch. It appears when they got to the first outlook, the howling winds threw them off balance and that was enough for them to turn around. Never been to the summit before they did not want to chance it.
So Jon and I were the only ones that summited Mt. Crawford today. We’ve hike enough times in high winds to know our limitations. We were not sure we could make the summit. What an unexpected opportunity!
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