Mt. Pierce and Nauman Tentsite Backpack

Destinations:  Mt. Pierce (4312'), Mizpah Spring Hut (3777'), Gibbs Falls (2300'), Crawford Cliff (2400')
Trails:  Crawford Connector, Crawford Path, Crawford Cliff Spur, Gibbs Falls Spur, Webster Cliff Trail, Mizpah Cutoff, Appalachian Trail
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Presidentials
Location:  Carroll (Twin Mountain), NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summit, views, hut, 4000-footer, waterfall, cascades, brook, backpack
Distance:  7.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2800 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 6:00   Typical: 5:20  
Outing Duration:  See the Mileage Splits section for daily estimates  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  06/11/2009 (Thursday)  
Last Updated:  10/04/2009  
Weather:  About 60 degrees, clouds, rain, and sun
Author:  Bill Mahony
Companion:  Joshua (son)

Joshua at Gibbs Falls (photo by Bill Mahony)
Joshua at Gibbs Falls (photo by Bill Mahony)

Route Summary   

This two-day backpack brings you to Mount Pierce which is a 4000-footer in the Presidential Range. The overnight is spent at Nauman Tentsite next to AMC's Mizpah Spring Hut. Both the summit and portions of the walk between the hut and the peak offer fantastic views. Near the start of the hike you will visit Crawford Cliff outlook and Gibbs Falls.

Day 1: Crawford Cliff, Gibbs Falls, Mizpah Spring Hut
  • 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 while Crawford Connector crosses the stream.
  • For now, turn left and follow Crawford Cliff Spur for 0.4 mile to an outlook towards Mounts Tom, Field and Willey.
  • After enjoying the view, retrace your steps for 0.4 mile back to Crawford Connector.
  • Turn left, cross the brook, and then several strides later, 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.
  • Joshua at Gibbs Brook
    (photo by Bill Mahony)
    Joshua at Gibbs Brook (photo by Bill Mahony)
  • Retrace your steps on the spur then turn left to resume the ascent on Crawford Path.
  • Climb on Crawford Path for another 1.3 miles which will bring you to a junction with Mizpah Cutoff.
  • Bear right onto Mizpah Cutoff, leaving Crawford Path which continues straight ahead.
  • Hike on Mizpah Cutoff, on easier grades than Crawford Path, for 0.7 mile.
  • Mizpah Cutoff will end upon meeting Webster Cliff Trail.
  • Keep straight on Webster Cliff Trail, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, and follow it for 200 feet which will lead you to a large clearing where you can't miss seeing Mizpah Spring Hut. Naumen Tentsite is to the right of the clearing down a short spur.

Day 2: Mt. Pierce, Gibbs Falls
  • From Mizpah Spring Hut / Naumen Tentsite, you will follow Webster Cliff Trail / Appalachian Trail all the way to Mount Pierce's summit. Since this is part of the Appalachian Trail, it will be blazed in white.
  • From the clearing, head north. If you were just entering the clearing from where you hiked yesterday, you would turn left, walk along the edge of the clearing for a few strides, and then turn left again, back into the woods.
  • Follow Webster Cliff Trail / Appalachian Trail for 0.8 mile which will bring you through woods and over semi-open ledges to the summit of Mount Pierce with 180-degree northerly views, notably of Mounts Eisenhower and Washington.
  • When you're through enjoying the views, retrace your steps on Webster Cliff Trail / Appalachian Trail, returning to Mizpah Spring Hut and Nauman Tentsite after 0.8 mile.
  • Upon entering the cleared area at Mizpah Spring Hut, turn right and walk several strides along the clearing edge, then turn right again back into the woods where a sign indicates "Webster Cliff Trail / Mizpah Cutoff 200 feet".
  • In about 200 feet, Webster Cliff Trail / Appalachian Trail turns left while Mizpah Cutoff goes straight ahead. Keep straight to get onto Mizpah Cutoff.
  • Descend gently on Mizpah Cutoff for 0.7 mile until it runs into Crawford Path at a junction that you met the prior day during your ascent.
  • Turn left and follow Crawford Path for 1.5 miles back to the junction with Crawford Connector.
  • Go straight/right to pick up Crawford Connector and follow it for 0.4 mile back to the parking lot.

Day 1: Crawford Cliff, Gibbs Falls, Mizpah Spring Hut
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
Crawford Cliff outlook (2400') 0.4 0.8
Jct. Crawford Connector / Crawford Cliff Spur (2080') 0.4 1.2
Jct. Crawford Path / Gibbs Falls Spur (2250') 0.2 1.4
Jct. Crawford Path / Mizpah Cutoff (3380') 1.3 2.7
Mizpah Spring Hut / Nauman Tentsite (3800') 0.7 3.4 3:00 3:00

Daily Rating: Moderate/Difficult
Daily Elevation Gain: 2250 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 2:50
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 4:00

Day 2: Mt. Pierce, Gibbs Falls
Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
     Split
Time
     Total
Time
    
Mizpah Spring Hut / Nauman Tentsite (3800') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Mt. Pierce summit (4312') 0.8 0.8
Mizpah Spring Hut / Nauman Tentsite (3800') 0.8 1.6 1:00 1:00
Jct. Crawford Path/Mizpah Cutoff (3380') 0.7 2.3
Jct. Crawford Path / Gibbs Falls Spur (2250') 1.3 3.6
Jct. Crawford Connector / Crawford Cliff Spur (2080') 0.2 3.8
Crawford Path parking lot on Mt. Clinton Road (1920') 0.4 4.2 2:00 3:00

Daily Rating: Moderate
Daily Elevation Gain: 550 feet (cumulative)
Daily Typical Hiking Time: 2:30
Daily Typical Outing Duration: 4:00


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Trail map of hike route to Mt. Pierce and Mizpah Spring Hut / Nauman Tentsite (map by Webmaster)


Trail Guide   

I've been having a great time hiking this spring. I've been trying to do a good hike every weekend and a major hike every other weekend. I have been blessed with great conditions for all of my hikes so far and I have beautiful pictures from all of them. I've been learning from each outing and I've barely even seen clouds on my White Mountain trips. I'm always well prepared for the cold and wet and I have used less than 30% of my clothing and food on most trips. My latest trip was a weather challenge.

I planned a nice trip up Mount Pierce via Crawford Path and Mizpah Cutoff, a night at Nauman tentsite, then over Pierce and Eisenhower and down Edmands Path. Now this is not a particularly difficult route for me, but I was bringing my eight year old son Joshua and I wanted him to enjoy the trip too. The weather forecast was calling for rain and I was worried about two days of hiking in heavy rain. Well, we left Thursday afternoon and arrived at the Crawford Path parking area by 5:00 p.m. We dressed up and got on our way.

Since this is a long trip report, I've divided it into sections:

Crawford Cliff, Gibbs Falls, Mizpah Spring Hut    |    Mt. Pierce, Gibbs Falls


Crawford Cliff, Gibbs Falls, Mizpah Spring Hut   

I was pretty loaded down and my son was carrying his sleeping bag and a water bottle, but using a school bookbag. On the way up we dropped the bags and took the side path to Crawford Cliff. The trail ran close to the brook and a small pool with a pretty waterfall. The view from the cliff was impressive to Joshua, but not particularly spectacular. We could see the clouds rolling by. The weather was cooperating so far, but the tops of Mounts Tom, Field, and Willey were shrouded in clouds (as we could see from the cliff).

Joshua at the junction of Crawford Path and Mizpah Cutoff (photo by Bill Mahony)
Joshua at the junction of Crawford Path and Mizpah Cutoff (photo by Bill Mahony)
Joshua was excited about some new gear that we got just for him (he being the only one of my four who is excited about hiking). We filled his new water bottle at the bridge over Gibbs Brook and then quickly checked out Gibbs Falls from the overlook, 0.2 mile above the bridge. Joshua also absconded with my map compass and used it to frequently check which direction we were headed and to ask where this put us on the map.

Just after the falls is when Joshua just couldn't carry his bag anymore. I decided that I didn't want him to be miserable, so I attached his bag to the back of my pack (which weighed somewhere in the order of 65 pounds total now) and we continued the climb. I was pretty overloaded and was ready to be at the campsite. Joshua seemed to enjoy the hike, but by the time we reached the cutoff he just wanted to be done too.

Along Mizpah Cutoff Joshua was torturing me (and himself) with "how much farther is it" and relating it to walks he knows (i.e. do we have to go farther than I walk to school… is it twice as far?) The day turned from gray to ominously dark as we got over 3,500 feet. The forest at the top is thick and very green (everything was covered in thick moss). I was worried that we were going to be setting up camp in the dark.

We got to Nauman Tentsite / Mizpah Spring Hut and Joshua selected a platform (none were taken, which surprised me a little) and we set up our gear. Joshua was awed by the bear box and the hut. We ate, stashed the food and went into the hut to check it out. Joshua wondered why we didn't stay at the hut. We stayed for a couple of minutes out of the bugs and then returned to the tent for the night. As we settled our gear in my two-man tent (which barely fits just me) it started to rain and we quickly fell asleep around 9:30 p.m. I hoped the tent would stay dry in the rain. We slept very well and didn't get wet!

Mt. Pierce, Gibbs Falls   

My son awoke at 8:30 a.m. (very late for him) and it was still raining. We were nice and warm (we had 15-degrees bags) and watched the drops land on the fly, grow and then fall down the sides. So now I was stuck... it's raining pretty solidly, the cloud cover limits the view to about 100 yards and I'm carrying a 63-pound pack (subtracting two pounds of food and water).

Joshua on Webster Cliff Trail
(photo by Bill Mahony)
Joshua on Webster Cliff Trail (photo by Bill Mahony)
I made the command decision to summit Mount Pierce with just a fanny pack of food and water, while leaving all our gear at the tent site for the day. The plan would be to head to Ike (Eisenhower) and then return by the same path when we were done. Maybe some extra walking, but we would have less gear weight too.

We rainsuited up and headed to the summit of Pierce. The trail was rough and wet and despite having waterproofed Joshua's boots before the trip, his feet were soaked before we hit the top. We summited in short order, took the obligatory summit pictures, saw nothing and Joshua decided that he was done for the day. We went back to the hut at a rapid pace, Joshua hung out and I went back to the camp to pack while Joshua drew on my new maps in pen.

I packed a nice wet tent and raingear into my backpack. The rain stopped and it was just foggy as we headed down just before noon. Since the hike was easier we made fast time. Joshua seemed to enjoy the trail a bit more on the way down.

We stopped for an extended view of Gibbs Falls. We turned right onto the spur, but then climbed up the side on the rocks that are on the same side as Crawford Path. The rocks go up about 20–30 feet in a steep climb and they were wet and somewhat slippery. The falls were really raging from all of the rain. Not wanting to descend back down this way, we did a short bushwhack back to Crawford Path from the top of the falls. The rain did have the advantage of making the falls very loud and rough – in other words cool and a great place for some pictures.

We got back to the car around 2:00 p.m. and Joshua tells me that he likes hiking, but that if he had a pack like mine he could carry the weight for much longer (this is probably at least partially true since he was shouldering all of his weight – no hip belt). He pestered me all the way home to buy him a real pack and then we could plan another hike.

New resolutions: Try not to hike in the rain with the kids unless you are staying in a hut or shelter. Don't leave the maps alone with Joshua and a pen.
 







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  Driving Directions   

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

From the West:
  • From the junction of Routes 3 and 302 in Carroll (Twin Mountain), follow Rt. 302 East for 8.0 miles, then turn left onto Mount Clinton Road.
  • 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.

Gibbs Brook (photo by Bill Mahony)
Gibbs Brook (photo by Bill Mahony)
From the East:
  • Follow Rt. 302 West. 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.

Facilities   

Toilets at the parking lot.

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. Pierce and Mizpah Spring Hut Trail Reports   


Joshua at the view from Crawford Cliff (photo by Bill Mahony)
Joshua at the view from Crawford Cliff (photo by Bill Mahony)
 




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