Mount Eisenhower and Mount Pierce

Mountains:  Mt. Pierce (4312'), Mt. Eisenhower (4760'), Gibbs Falls (2300')
Trails:  Crawford Connector, Crawford Path, Crawford Cliff Spur, Gibbs Falls Spur, Webster Cliff Trail, Mount Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path, Mt. Clinton Road, Appalachian Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Presidentials
Location:  Carroll (Twin Mountain), NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summits, views, 4000-footers, alpine zone, alpine plants, waterfall, cascades, loop hike, brook
Distance:  10.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  3150 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 5:25   Typical: 6:50  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 9:30  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  09/26/1999 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  10/03/2009  
Weather:  Sunny, clear, 45-55 degrees
Author:  Webmaster

Route Summary   

This hike brings you to Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower – both summits are 4000-footers, offer fantastic views, and are part of the Presidential Range. The ridge walk between the two peaks, which also offers views, is very interesting as it winds through scrub and among alpine flowers.

This is a loop hike that finishes up with a 2.3 mile walk along a pretty, gravel road in order to get from one trailhead to another.

If you wish to do a point-to-point hike instead, simply spot a car at the Edmands Path parking area, start hiking from the Crawford Path parking lot and subtract 2.3 miles from your trip.

  • Start on Crawford Connector, following it for 0.4 mile. The trail will cross Mount Clinton Road and then arrive at a footbridge crossing Gibbs Brook where there are pretty cascades. Just before the bridge, Crawford Cliff Spur veers left but you should stay straight and cross the bridge.
  • Several strides after crossing Gibbs Brook, you will reach a junction with Crawford Path. Go straight/left to head up the mountain; the right-hand leg leads to Route 302.
  • After just 0.2 mile on Crawford Path, look for a sign for "Gibbs Falls" on the left. Follow the path left for about 40 yards which will bring you to a viewpoint of Gibbs Falls spilling down a tall ledge.
  • Retrace your steps on the spur then turn left to resume the ascent on Crawford Path.
  • Hike on Crawford Path for another 1.3 miles which will bring you to a junction with Mizpah Cutoff. Bear left to stay on Crawford Path.
  • Continue on Crawford Path for an additional 1.2 miles until reaching the junction with Webster Cliff Trail.
  • Turn right onto Webster Cliff Trail which is part of the Appalachian Trail (leaving Crawford Path to continue straight ahead) and ascend 0.1 mile to the summit of Mount Pierce which is marked by a cairn with denser scrub beyond it. The summit offers fantastic views over to the rounded dome of Mount Eisenhower and the building-topped Mount Washington. If you want to continue on Webster Cliff Trail for about 25 yards, you'll be able to see views in the opposite direction. Pierce makes a better lunch spot than Eisenhower, because its less windy (which you may find hard to believe if you're up there on a windy day).
  • When you're through enjoying Pierce's views, descend 0.1 mile on Webster Cliff Trail to return to Crawford Path.
  • Turn right and resume your trek on Crawford Path, following it for 1.2 miles until it meets up with Mount Eisenhower Loop.
  • Bear left to follow Mount Eisenhower Loop for 0.4 mile up to Mount Eisenhower's summit which is totally open and marked by a huge cairn. From here you have an even closer view of Mount Washington and the other Presidentials but the 360-degree views leave you totally exposed to the elements.
  • Continue along Mount Eisenhower Loop, descending Mount Eisenhower on the other side, and meeting up with Edmands path in 0.4 mile.
  • Turn left onto Edmands Path and follow it for 2.9 miles until it ends at the trailhead parking area on Mount Clinton Road.
  • From the parking lot, turn left onto Mount Clinton Road.
  • Walk along Mount Clinton Road for 2.3 miles back to the Crawford Path parking lot where you started from. Instead of walking all the way to the lot entrance, you can also look for Crawford Connector on the right (this trail crosses the road but at this point, you want to turn right) and take that back to the lot as a small shortcut.

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
     Split
Time
     Total
Time
    
Crawford Connector parking lot on Mt. Clinton Road (1920') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Jct. Crawford Connector / Crawford Cliff Spur (2080') 0.4 0.4
Jct. Crawford Path / Gibbs Falls Spur (2250') 0.2 0.6
Jct. Crawford Path / Mizpah Cutoff (3380') 1.3 1.9 1:07 1:07
Jct. Crawford Path / Webster Cliff Trail (4250') 1.2 3.1 0:46 1:53
Mt. Pierce summit (4312') 0.1 3.2 0:02 1:55
Jct. Crawford Path / Webster Cliff Trail (4250') 0.1 3.3 0:01 1:56
Jct. Crawford Path / Mt. Eisenhower Loop (4425') 1.2 4.5 0:50 2:46
Mt. Eisenhower summit (4760') 0.4 4.9 0:16 3:02
Jct. Eisenhower Loop / Edmands Path (4450') 0.4 5.4 0:16 3:18
Edmands Path Trailhead parking area (2000') 2.9 8.3 1:25 4:43
Crawford Connector parking lot on Mt. Clinton Road (1920') 2.3 10.6 0:42 5:25

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Map of hike route to Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

I started along Crawford Path Connector and very shortly the trail crossed Mount Clinton Road. The trail climbs gradually here and the sun was shining down brightly through the trees. The way the light was filtered through the branches, combined with the wet dew still on the leaves, made it seem like I was walking through an enchanted forest.

Soon I came upon Gibbs Brook and the Crawford Cliff Spur. The brook is really neat looking and flows through a small gorge. I followed the spur path as far as the signed pool and skipped the steep climb to the outlook because I figured I would have tons of views from the ridge and was afraid of taking up too much time (as it turned out, despite the distance, this was a relatively easy trail and I could have spent the time checking out the rest of the spur).

The pool was pretty but what really caught my eye was a gorgeous waterfall slightly downstream from it, which could just barely be glimpsed from the spur path. I went off trail and checked it out. It falls over what looks like an old cement bridge forming a perfect, uniform falls about four feet wide. Then to the right of it, more water, in a narrow stream, makes a chaotic fall and churns up the water falling from the bridge. After making my way through the woods to get a good view of this falls, I realized that if I had continued farther along Crawford Path, it was easily visible without the extra work.

After checking out the spur trail, I crossed the bridge that goes over Gibbs Brook. It was about here that I had a surprise encounter with a "billboard". I've come to expect (unfortunately) billboards on the drives to the trailheads but this is the first time I experienced the unpleasant taste of advertising on the trail. I will admit it was a more attractive billboard than most (actually it was much smaller than a highway billboard but much larger than any of the trail signs); but it was still an advertisement. The AMC sign proclaimed the hospitality and good meals awaiting the weary hiker at Mizpah Hut. It read, "average hiking time–2 hours" and reminded me of the McDonald's billboard I drove by earlier that said "McDonald's–15 minutes ahead".

AMC is a great organization and I use their books all the time but I think placing such a prominent sign like this is going against their goal to preserve the wilderness and instead becomes a self-serving advertisement. Would they support large signs on the hike up to Mount Washington advertising the cafeteria awaiting hikers on the summit; or offering a ride down via the railway or road? I think not.

Soon after that bit of commercialism, the trail hooked up with the true Crawford Path where bearing left was required to head up the mountain (turning right leads to the AMC Highland Center on Route 302).

And soon after that a very short spur path leads left to a tall waterfall (Gibbs Falls) plummeting down into the gorge. So many sights to see and one mile has not yet even been covered!

Crawford Path ascends at moderate grade and climbs steadily with few flat spots. At the sign for Mizpah Cutoff, bear left to stay on Crawford Path (bearing right will lead to the Mizpah Spring Hut). Gradually the views begin to open up to the left of the trail.

By the time I reached the junction with Webster Cliff Trail, the view was totally open. I followed the Webster Cliff Trail for less than 0.1 mile to the summit of Mount Pierce. The summit proper (distinguished by a large cairn as well as a USGS marker) is surrounded by some scrub so the views have to be obtained from a standing position. But just a short distance back towards Crawford Path are great views that can be had from a relaxed, sitting position on the many flat rocks. This area was also more sheltered from the winds than the totally exposed Mount Eisenhower summit–so on a windy or cold day, Pierce would be the better pick for a lunch break.

I retraced my steps from Mount Pierce to get back on Crawford Path. The route along the ridge was easy walking and provided many, many, wonderful views. I followed the path to its junction with the southernmost end of Mount Eisenhower Loop. That's where the steep climbing began but it was very short lived.

I soon found myself on the summit of Mount Eisenhower with views everywhere! At the very top of the mountain is a huge cairn and people were mostly gathered around the perimeter of the cairn. A short distance outside of the perimeter of the cairn, the mountain rolls down gradually and is covered with small rocks and lots of alpine growth so pretty much the only spot to hang out (unless you want to commit the sin of trampling over delicate alpine plants) is right around the cairn.

I hung out here and ate another lunch (I already had one on Mount Pierce but I was hungry again). Then I descended down the other arm of Mount Eisenhower Loop. From that segment, I could see Red Pond below me and slightly to the right. It was small and appeared to be filled with brown, murky water– not really a pleasant sight. At the bottom of the loop trail, a spur path leads right to the mucky shore of the pond. Taking a left puts you onto Edmands Path.

Edmands Path begins out in the open and seems to be skirting the outer edge of Mount Eisenhower. After a bit, it dips below treeline but is still hugging the edge of the mountain so views can be glimpsed to the right, in between the branches. At one spot, for a brief stint, the trail shares its route with a brook. Use extra caution here because the rocks are steep and slippery. After that point, there are a couple steep parts to get through, but mostly the trail descends moderately though pleasant woods.

Edmands Path ends at a parking area off of Mount Clinton Road. I went through the lot and took a left onto the road. Mount Clinton Road was a pretty walk and had low traffic. I followed the road until I saw the trail signs for Crawford Connector (picture of a hiker–no trail name), then I took a right back into the woods and very shortly arrived at the Crawford Path parking area.

It was a great sunny, clear day with the smell of Autumn in the air. In spite of the temperature being only 45-50 degrees, it felt much warmer than that due to the bright sun combined with the exercise. Overall, a relatively easy loop with fantastic rewards. Because of this, there were quite a few people on the trails.
 




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  Driving Directions   

The trailhead for Crawford Connector is located on Mount Clinton Road, off of Rt. 302, in Carroll (Twin Mountain), New Hampshire.

Crawford Connector Parking Lot
  • From the junction of Routes 3 and 302 in Twin Mountain, follow Rt. 302 East for 8.0 miles, then turn left onto Mount Clinton Road. Traveling from the east, Mount Clinton Road will be on the right and is 0.2 mile beyond the AMC Highland Center, or about 3 miles west of the Willey House Historical Site.
  • Almost immediately upon turning onto Mount Clinton Road, take your first left into a large parking lot.
  • The trailhead for Crawford Connector is at the far end of the parking area, just to the right of the toilets.

Edmands Path Parking Lot
  • From the Crawford Path parking lot, continue down Mount Clinton Road for 2.3 miles.
  • The parking lot for Edmands Path is on the right.

Facilities   

Toilets at the parking lot for Crawford Connector.

Other Notes   

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

Rates:
  • $3 per day
  • $5 for a week-long pass
  • $20 for a year-long pass
  • $25 for two year-long passes (one household/two cars)

More Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Pierce Trail Reports   

 


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