Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mt. Avalon, New Hampshire

Mt. Avalon (3,442') via Avalon Trail, November 16, 2013.

Mileage:  3.6 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  1,569'

Trailhead:  Trailhead is located at Crawford Depot on Route 302, Bretton Woods (next to AMC Highland Center).  Parking is available year-round at the Depot.  The Depot (and bathroom facilities) are open June through mid-October.

Hiked with Rich.  We were volunteering at the trail information desk at Highland Center and decided to revisit Mt. Avalon on our afternoon break (we'd hiked it once before).

Mt. Avalon is on the 52 with a View list (a list I am not working on but you may be!).  This is the perfect adventure for those wanting a relatively short hike with a bit of a challenge and a fabulous view!

We started on the trail at 12:30 (the trail information desk quiets down in the afternoon).  It was a beautifully warm day with no wind - not a lick of breeze as we crossed the field to Crawford Depot.

We crossed the tracks and entered the woods. Immediately the temperature dropped. 

The trailhead sign beyond the tracks.
The well marked trail ascends gradually; we passed the Beecher -Pearl Cascade loop (nice falls).  A weak blanket of wet snow clung to the ground and the three water crossings were just a bit slippery (at this point we weren't wearing traction). 

What a busy trail!  Everyone was out to enjoy the sunshine and mild temps.

Snowy terrain was more evident as we ascended, with about 2-4 inches of velvety snow draping rocks, fallen trees.

At the junction of the A-Z trail we chatted with a group of high school students staying at the Center; some had never been to the Whites.  I stopped, had a drink and put on my Microspikes. 

Just .5 miles to the summit!
The Avalon trail continues left, and up.  Things got steeper and many boots had turned the snow into a slippery slush (which turned to an icy smear further up).  There are a few switchbacks on this section of trail. 

This last half-mile is a workout, which was what we wanted. The rocky brook-like terrain was mushy and slippery but no problem for the Microspikes. 

More than a few hikers without traction turned around here.

Up and up until we got to the junction of the Avalon Spur. 

An exciting 100 yards! 

Did we think it was steep before?  We headed to the fun (short) scramble up to the toothy rocks of the summit. 

Rich on the short scramble.

These jagged rocks are the summit of Mt. Avalon.

Amazing views of Mt. Washington, the Highland Center and the Notch!  

Highland Center, Saco Lake and Mt. Washington.

We marveled at the view, drank, took photos and headed back way too soon.  But our break ended at 4 and we didn't want to be late.  Moreover, the sun sets VERY quickly in the Notch, bringing the cold and the dark.

Conditions on the trail we'd just walked up had deteriorated. 

Didn't take long for the lower sections to turn to mud.
We were down by 3:30, showered and back at the Information Desk by 4, feeling like we make the most of our break. 

I highly recommend Mt. Avalon for the best of half-day hikes.  Perfect for the visitor wanting to eek out one more hike in the Whites before heading back home. 


  1. I was thinking of climbing this the week of 7-14-14. Looks like a great climb with awesome views. Any advice for me?

    Thanks for posting this,

  2. Hi Joe,

    It is an awesome climb, particularly when there's a view. Just have fun. We've climbed Avalon only in winter conditions. I am sure it's wonderful in summer too. Bring lots of water.

  3. this trail is rated as moderate by a lot of guides. Maybe the beginning is moderate, but once you start the last half mile, this is really a rock scramble, a steep rock scramble and if the rocks are wet, it is a slippery steep rock scramble.We did this trail in the summer and thought the views from Mount Willard were just as good and you didn't have to worry about the status of your health insurance policy when hiking Willard. Yes Willard was much easier, but it was also more enjoyable

  4. Hi markyjo,

    Trail ratings can be subjective and in relation to the difficulty of other trails. It seems that just when you think you are there you have rocks to scramble over - sometimes a real challenge in icy conditions. Many believe those scrambles to be the best part of the hike - particularly after the never-ending steepness of the Avalon trail. Mt. Willard also has a great view - some do both when they visit the area.