Lafayette, Cannon, Garfield, and Beyond

Mountains:  Mt. Lafayette (5260'), Mt. Garfield (4500'), Cannon Mtn. (4100'), South Twin Mtn. (4902'), Mt. Guyot (4580'), Lonesome Lake (2740'), Eagle Pass (2980'), Eagle Lakes, Garfield Pond, Zeacliff Outlook, Zealand Falls, Zealand Falls Hut (2630'), Whitewall Brook Outlook (2630')
Trails:  Lonesome Lake Trail, Cascade Brook Trail, Fishin' Jimmy Trail, Appalachian Trail, Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail, Kinsman Ridge Trail, Rim Trail, Greenleaf Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Twinway, Zealand Trail, A-Z Trail, Avalon Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest
Location:  Franconia, NH
Rating:  Difficult  
Features:   summits, views, 4000-footers, lakes, ponds, brooks, river, cascades, rock scrambles, alpine zone, ledges, huts, backpack
Distance:  27.3 miles  
Elevation Gain:  9450 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 19:00  
Outing Duration:  See the Mileage Splits section for daily estimates  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  06/20/2006 (Tuesday) (5 days)  
Last Updated:  11/05/2009  
Author:  James Horner

Whitewall Mtn. from Zeacliff Outlook - Jim's favorite viewpoint of the White Mountains (photo by James Horner)


Route Summary   

This is a 5-day hut-to-hut backpack starting at Lafayette Campground on I-93 in Franconia Notch State Park and ending at Crawford Depot on Route 302 in Crawford Notch. In addition to visiting Franconia Notch State Park, the route runs through the White Mountain National Forest and skirts the Pemigewasset Wilderness area.

Highlights along the trek include Lonesome Lake, Cannon Mountain, Mount Lafayette, Mount Garfield, South Twin Mountain, Mount Guyot, and Zeacliff outlook - all of which offer fantastic views. Other places of interest include Eagle Pass, Eagle Lakes, Garfield Pond, Zeacliff Pond, Whitewall Brook and outlook, and Zealand Falls. The nights were spent at the following AMC huts: Lonesome Lake Hut, Greenleaf Hut, Galehead Hut, and Zealand Falls Hut.

Day 1: Lafayette Campground to Lonesome Lake Hut
  • From the picnic area at the end of Lafayette Campground's south parking area, start on the yellow-blazed Lonesome Lake Trail.
  • After 0.4 mile you will reach a junction with Hi-Cannon Trail which goes to the right; stay straight to remain on Lonesome Lake Trail.
  • After 0.8 mile you will reach the shore of Lonesome Lake as well as trail junctions with Cascade Brook Trail on the left and Dodge Cutoff on the right while Lonesome Lake Trail continues straight. Turn left here to get on Cascade Brook Trail.
  • Follow Cascade Brook Trail for just 0.3 mile until it meets with Fishin' Jimmy Trail. Turn right to take Fishin' Jimmy Trail.
  • Follow Fishin' Jimmy Trail, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, for 150 yards which will bring you to a junction with Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail before veering left uphill to reach Lonesome Lake Hut.

Day 2: Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut
  • From the hut descend back down to the junction with Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail.
  • Turn left to follow Around-Lonesome-Lake along the west shore of Lonesome Lake.
  • After 0.3 mile you will reach a junction with Lonesome Lake Trail which is 0.2 mile beyond the point from which you left Lonesome Lake Trail yesterday. Turn left here to head up towards Kinsman Ridge and Cannon Mountain.
  • After 0.9 mile you will meet Kinsman Ridge Trail at a T-junction where Lonesome Lake Trail ends. Turn right onto Kinsman Ridge Trail.
  • After 0.4 mile on Kinsman Ridge Trail, you will see a junction with Hi-Cannon Trail on the right; keep going straight to stay on Kinsman Ridge Trail.
  • After 0.4 mile, you will reach the gravel Rim Trail very close to Cannon Mountain's summit.
  • Go straight ahead on the gravel path for 120 yards to reach the summit and observation tower.
  • Retrace your steps for 120 yards to return to the junction between Kinsman Ridge Trail and the gravel path. Turn left to continue on Kinsman Ridge Trail which coincides with Rim Trail for 0.2 mile.
  • After 0.2 mile Rim Trail continues straight while Kinsman Ridge Trail turns sharply right. Turn right here to remain on Kinsman Ridge Trail which you will follow to its end.
  • Descend steeply on Kinsman Ridge Trail for 2.0 miles which will bring you to the parking area for the Cannon Mountain Tramway. En route, you will cross the downhill ski slopes several times so pay attention to trail blazes and signs to stay on the trail.
  • From the parking area, take Greenleaf "Trail" which follows a sidewalk through the I-93 underpass, then turns left to follow the northbound ramp for 25 yards, before turning right across a ditch and entering into the woods.
  • Climb moderately for 1.5 miles on Greenleaf Trail which will bring you to Eagle Pass which is a narrow route running between Eagle Cliff and the western flank of Mount Lafayette.
  • Climb steeply for 1.2 miles more on Greenleaf Trail to reach Greenleaf Hut.

Eagle Cliff (photo by James Horner)


Day 3: Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut
  • From the hut, continue on Greenleaf Trail and you'll soon pass Eagle Lakes (two shallow tarns) on your left. A steep ascent up Greenleaf Trail will bring you to the wide-open summit of Mount Lafayette with magnificent views after 1.1 miles.
  • From the summit turn left (north) to get on Garfield Ridge Trail which is also part of the Appalachian Trail.
  • Descend on Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail at a fairly steep rate for 0.8 mile upon which you will arrive at a junction with Skookumchuck Trail which comes in from the left; keep going straight on Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail which is marked by cairns and white blazes.
  • Follow Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail, through ups and downs and rock scrambles, for 2.2 miles which will bring you to Garfield Pond at the base of a hill (the pond is visible from the trail).
  • Turn left, following a short, faint spur path, that may be wet in places, to reach the shore of Garfield Pond.
  • After enjoying the pond, return to the main trail and turn left.
  • Climb steeply uphill on Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail for 0.5 mile. At the height-of-land, take a short spur path on the right to the summit of Mount Garfield where there are fantastic views and a foundation from an old fire tower.
  • After enjoying the summit, return to the main trail, and turn right.
  • Continue on Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail for 0.2 mile which will bring you to a junction with Garfield Trail.
  • Keep going straight on Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail descending steeply for 0.7 mile which will bring you to a junction with Franconia Brook Trail which comes in from the right.
  • Continue straight ahead to remain on Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail.
  • After 1.6 miles of ups and downs, Gale River Trail comes in from the left; stay straight to keep following Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail.
  • Climb moderately for a final 0.6 mile along Garfield Ridge Trail / Appalachian Trail where it comes to an end upon meeting Twinway and Frost Trail.
  • Follow Twinway for 40 yards to reach Galehead Hut.

View from Mount Lafayette (photo by James Horner)


Day 4: Galehead Hut to Zealand Falls Hut
  • From the hut, continue on Twinway, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail, in an easterly direction towards South Twin Mountain.
  • After 0.8 mile of steep climbing you will reach the open summit of South Twin Mountain and a junction with North Twin Spur.
  • After enjoying the summit, continue along Twinway / Appalachian Trail in a southeasterly direction.
  • After 2.0 miles of mostly downhills you will reach a junction with Bondcliff Trail. Turn left to continue on Twinway / Appalachian Trail.
  • Just 0.1 mile farther uphill will bring you to the summit of Mount Guyot with yet more great views to enjoy.
  • After 1.2 miles, first descending and then ascending, will be a small cairn on the left marking a spur that reaches the true summit of Zealand Mountain after 0.1 mile.
  • Continue along Twinway / Appalachian Trail through a descent, and after 1.2 miles will be another spur path – this time on the right – which leads down to Zeacliff Pond after 0.1 mile.
  • Hike another 0.4 mile to reach a junction with Zeacliff Trail which comes in from the right; keep straight to continue following Twinway / Appalachian Trail.
  • Shortly after this junction, bear right off the main trail to follow a side trail that will rejoin Twinway / Appalachian Trail after 50 yards. Along this side path are magnificent views from the Zeacliff outlook.
  • Back on Twinway / Appalachian Trail, descend for 1.2 miles at which point you'll have to cross two branches of Whitewall Brook.
  • After the brook crossing, Lend-A-Hand Trail comes in from the left. Bear right and just 0.1 mile from Whitewall Brook you will arrive at Zealand Falls Hut.
  • For a post-hike treat, from the front of the hut, follow a short side path that quickly leads to an outlook where Whitewall Brook runs over open ledges before plummeting over the edge of a high cliff.

View from Mount Guyot (photo by James Horner)


Day 5: Zealand Falls Hut to Crawford Depot
  • From the hut continue on Twinway / Appalachian Trail for 0.2 mile where Twinway ends and Ethan Pond Trail and Zealand Trail begin. Just after leaving the hut while descending a steep pitch on rock steps, look to the right for a short spur path that provides an outlook to Zealand Falls. A bit farther down Twinway, near the base of the steep pitch on the right, is another short spur leading to Zealand River and its cascades.
  • Turn left to get on Zealand Trail.
  • After 0.2 mile, Zealand Trail reaches a junction with A-Z Trail. Turn right to get on A-Z Trail.
  • Follow A-Z Trail, climbing moderately, for 2.7 miles which will bring you to a junction with Willey Range Trail on the right. Stay straight to remain on A-Z Trail.
  • Eighty yards farther you'll pass a 0.6-mile spur on the left to Mount Tom; again stay straight to keep following A-Z Trail.
  • Descend steeply for 1.0 mile on A-Z Trail upon which it will end where it meets Avalon Trail. Keep going straight to follow Avalon Trail.
  • After 1.0 mile of moderate downhills on Avalon Trail you will reach Crawford Depot and be back in the world of trains, automobiles, and shuttle buses.

Day 1: Lafayette Campground to Lonesome Lake Hut
Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Lafayette Campground (1770') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Lonesome Lake Trail / Hi-Cannon Trail (2040') 0.4 0.4
Jct. Lonesome Lake Trail / Cascade Brook Trail (2740') 0.8 1.2
Jct. Cascade Brook Trail / Fishin' Jimmy Trail (2740') 0.3 1.5
Lonesome Lake Hut (2760') 0.1 1.6

Daily Rating: Moderate
Daily Elevation Gain: 970 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 1:20
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 1:30

Day 2: Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut
Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Lonesome Lake Hut (2760') 0.0 0.0
Jct. Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail / Lonesome Lake Trail (2740') 0.3 0.3
Jct. Lonesome Lake Trail / Kinsman Ridge Trail (3400') 0.9 1.2
Jct. Kinsman Ridge Trail / Hi-Cannon Trail (3850') 0.4 1.6
Cannon Mtn. summit (4100') 0.4 2.0
2nd jct. Kinsman Ridge Trail / Rim Trail 0.2 2.2
Cannon Mtn. Tramway parking area (1980') 2.0 4.2
Eagle Pass (2980') 1.5 5.7
Greenleaf Hut (4220') 1.2 6.9

Daily Rating: Difficult
Daily Elevation Gain: 3600 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 5:20
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 6:30

Eagle Cliff (photo by James Horner)


Day 3: Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut
Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Greenleaf Hut (4220') 0.0 0.0
Mt. Lafayette summit (5260') 1.1 1.1
Jct. Garfield Ridge Trail / Skookumchuck Trail 0.8 1.9
Garfield Pond (3900') 2.2 4.1
Mt. Garfield summit (4500') 0.5 4.6
Jct. Garfield Ridge Trail / Garfield Trail (4180') 0.2 4.8
Jct. Garfield Ridge Trail / Franconia Brook Trail (3420) 0.7 5.5
Jct. Garfield Ridge Trail / Gale River Trail (3390') 1.6 7.1
Galehead Hut (3780') 0.6 7.7

Daily Rating: Difficult
Daily Elevation Gain: 2750 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 5:15
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 7:30

Jim enjoying a well-deserved beer at Galehead Hut (photo by James Horner)


Day 4: Galehead Hut to Zealand Falls Hut
Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Galehead Hut (3780') 0.0 0.0
South Twin Mtn. summit (4902') 0.8 0.8
Jct. Twinway / Bondcliff Trail (4508') 2.0 2.8
Mt. Guyot summit (4580') 0.1 2.9
Jct. Twinway / Zealand Mtn. spur 1.2 4.1
Jct. Twinway / Zeacliff Pond spur 1.2 5.3
Jct. Twinway / Zeacliff Trail (3700') 0.4 5.7
Zealand Falls Hut (2630') 1.4 7.1

Daily Rating: Difficult
Daily Elevation Gain: 1750 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 4:25
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 7:00

Day 5: Zealand Falls Hut to Crawford Depot
Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Zealand Falls Hut (2630') 0.0 0.0
Zealand Falls 0.1 0.1
Zealand Pond and Jct. Ethan Pond Trail / Twinway / Zealand Trail (2460') 0.1 0.2
Jct. Zealand Trail / A-Z Trail (2450') 0.2 0.4
Jct. A-Z Trail / Willey Range Trail (3700') 2.7 3.1
Crawford Depot (1900') 1.0 4.1

Daily Rating: Moderate
Daily Elevation Gain: 1350 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 2:45
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 3:00

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Click for a larger trail map (it will open in a new window).   

Trail map of hike route on 5-day backpack to Cannon, Lafayette, Garfield and beyond (map by Webmaster)

 








  Trail Guide   

Day 1: Lafayette Campground to Lonesome Lake Hut

Starting from the west end of the campground, I followed the Lonesome Lake Trail, past the Hi-Cannon Trail, past the Dodge Cutoff to the Fishin' Jimmy and Cascade Brook Trail to Lonesome Lake Hut. The grades ranged from easy to moderate.

Lonesome Lake (photo by James Horner)


Day 2: Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut

Starting from Lonesome Lake Hut, I traveled around this moody lake via the Around-Lonesome-Lake Trail, to Lonesome Lake Trail to Kinsman Ridge Trail, which was quite steep in spots with some rock scrambling.

Once on the foggy summit of Cannon Mountain, I descended the Kinsman Ridge Trail over open ledges and a kind of narrow gully to the highway. There I crossed to the Greenleaf Trail and the exotic Eagle Cliff.

Alone, I experienced a weird remoteness. The overhanging rocks seemed to have a presence there as I wound my way past them. A long, steady uphill brought me to Greenleaf Hut. It was a long and grueling day.

After dinner and a sun shower around 6 p.m., we all rushed outside to view a double rainbow. It was magical.

Double rainbow at Greenleaf Hut (photo by James Horner)


Day 3: Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut

Starting on the Greenleaf Trail, I summited Mount Lafayette with immense views.

Turning left (north), on Garfield Ridge Trail, I traversed bare rocks on an exhilarating, above-treeline route, which can be dangerous in stormy weather. A descent to Garfield Pond provided a perfect lunch spot before the climb to Mount Garfield. A few ridiculously steep climbs surprise the heavy-laden hiker (me). At the end, an unbelievably kind guy from the "croo" offered me a beer from his private stash.

View from Mount Lafayette (photo by James Horner)


Day 4: Galehead Hut to Zealand Falls Hut

Continuing on Twinway, I passed over South Twin Mountain and the wide-open junction with Bondcliff Trail. Reluctantly, I left the enticing Bonds for another trip to head toward Zealand Falls Hut.

In a bog I found "the rhodora" and fondly recalled the poem by the same name by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Later I surprised a flock of spruce grouse, which exploded off the ground.

Rhodora shrubs (photo by James Horner)


The trail followed and descended a waterfall, (no, there is no other way down) and later a 20-foot ladder. Off the scenic spur to Zeacliff I found my favorite viewpoint in all the Whites–the Zeacliff outlook with a close-up perspective of the steep wall of Whitewall Mountain as well as other peaks beyond it. At the falls, after a moderate to strenuous day, I and others soaked our tired feet in the cold stream.

Soaking our feet at the Whitewall Brook outlook (photo by James Horner)


Day 5: Zealand Falls Hut to Crawford Depot

An early start led me steeply down the trail from the Zealand Falls Hut onto A-Z Trail and then Avalon Trail. I really booked this section since I wanted to make the pre-arranged shuttle at distant Crawford Notch back to my car at Lafayette Campground. Success! I did it on time!

Spruce grouse (photo by James Horner)

 



Cannon in the fog (photo by James Horner)





White Mountains elegant vacation rental
 


NH - Central East



  Driving Directions   

The starting point for this hike is Lafayette Campground on I-93 in Franconia Notch State Park and the ending point is at Crawford Depot on Route 302 in Crawford Notch. You will need to spot cars or arrange for transportation before leaving on your hike.

Lafayette Campground

Traveling northbound on I-93:
  • Take I-93 North through Franconia Notch.
  • Once in Franconia Notch State Park (where there is no median strip and the highway signs are brown instead of green), take the first exit after The Basin.
  • After driving past The Basin parking area, you will see a sign for "Trailhead Parking 1/4 mile", and then the exit sign will simply say "Trailhead Parking". This is the Lafayette Place parking area even though it isn't signed as such from the highway.
  • The trailhead is accessed by taking the pedestrian tunnel beneath the highway to the parking lot on the west side of the notch.

Traveling southbound on I-93:
  • Take I-93 South through Franconia Notch.
  • Once in Franconia Notch State Park (where there is no median strip and the highway signs are brown instead of green), take the first exit after Exit 34B.
  • After driving past Exit 34B, take the next exit signed as "Lafayette Place Campground - Trailhead Parking".
  • The trailhead is located directly off of this parking lot.

Crawford Depot

Traveling westbound on Rt. 302:
  • The trailhead is behind the Crawford Depot and Macomber Family Information Center (visitor center).
  • Traveling from the east, AMC Crawford Depot is about 2.7 miles west of the Willey House Historical Site, just before the AMC Highland Center on the left.

Traveling eastbound on Rt. 302:
  • The trailhead is behind the Crawford Depot and Macomber Family Information Center (visitor center).
  • Coming from the west, Crawford Depot is about 8.4 miles east of the junction of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302, just after the Highland Center on the right.

Facilities   

Each night was spent at an AMC Hut which offers bunks and meals. Hut reservations can be made by calling 603.466.2727.

At the starting point at Lafayette Campground are public bathrooms.

At the ending point at Crawford Depot and Macomber Family Information Center, bathrooms are also available.

Other Notes   

The AMC shuttle bus runs between the starting and ending points, making a point-to-point hike possible without having to spot cars beforehand.

More Related Trail Reports   


Double rainbow at Greenleaf Hut (photo by James Horner)

 

 

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