Trail: Avalon Trail > A-Z Trail > Willey Ridge Trail > Avalon Trail
Hours: 4:15 hiking; 5:30 total
October 7, 2017
Mt. Field (4,331’) and Mt. Tom (4,052’) are two 4,000-footers with very limited views. However, you can easily add Mt. Avalon (3,442’) into the loop and get awesome views of Crawford Notch! Mt. Willey (4,255’) is often hiked with these mountains as well.
NOTE: The trailhead is behind the Crawford Notch Depot. It can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. If you cross over the tracks at the depot, you will see the small trailhead sign. The trail gains over 2,700 feet of elevation in 3.5 miles, so there are some steep sections, but overall this is not a difficult hike.
Alex and I began this hike on a misty October morning around 9:00 AM. The hike started on Avalon Trail, and the first mile gained some elevation gradually. There were stream crossings on this hike (about 4 or 5), but none of them were difficult. These could be an issue in the spring after the snow begins to melt, but the rocks are big enough that you may be okay!
After about a mile, we came to an intersection with the A-Z Trail. We could have continued on the Avalon Trail to go to Mt. Avalon first, but we wanted to enjoy the beautiful views last, so we switched to the A-Z Trail. This is where we gained most of the elevation, but it’s never too difficult! There were a few steep sections, but there were rock staircases that helped and gave us great footing. This loop is below the treeline and in densely packed woods, so even if it rains, you should still have good footing.
After one mile of some butt-burning climbing, we reached another intersection with Willey Ridge Trail. We followed the trail to the right to reach Mt. Tom. If you hike to Mt. Tom, be aware of your surroundings because there are beautiful Grey Jays who are very friendly! If you put your hand out- with or without food- they will land on you! There are a ton on Mt. Tom's summit, too, so keep trekking along!
We reached the summit around 10:30 AM; not too shabby on time! The summit lacked a sign, so it was somewhat difficult to tell when we made it. However, once we found the rock cairn, we knew we made it. Most summits in the treeline lack summit signs but always have rock cairns marking the summit. Even though Mt. Tom’s summit is below the treeline, there were a few trails that veered off to small clearings with awesome views! On the west side, we could see Bond, Hale, Zealand, and the Twins while on the east we could see the Presidentials.
Once we were done playing with the Grey Jays, we began to head back down the trail and continue to Mt. Field. The hike to Mt. Field was a fairly easy one-mile hike. It was pretty uneventful. We gained some elevation but nothing too strenuous. Most of the trail was bare with roots, so we had to watch our step! Alex may or may not have tripped and hit his head on a fallen tree… He’s okay though! Phew!
Mt. Field also does not have a summit sign, but don’t you worry!! There is a rock cairn marking the top. I personally think all summits should have summit signs, but hey, it may only be me. Mt. Field’s summit was also below the treeline, but there was a clearing that gave us views of the Presidentials. We were making good time and reached the summit by 11:45 AM, so we decided to eat our lunch here and enjoy the peacefulness. There were few people on this trail, so it was very peaceful. I think we passed 2 groups of hikers before getting to Avalon.
If you want to do Mt. Willey as well, this is where you would continue on the Willey Ridge Trail. We opted to skip Mt. Willey, so we began to head down the Avalon Trail to Mt. Avalon. The hike descended quite steeply with large rocks. There were many times it was too steep to step from one rock to another, so we were on our butts. Nothing we couldn’t handle, though! After a mile of butt scooching, we saw a small sign (and I mean a very small can easily be missed sign) pointing to the summit of Mt. Avalon. It was about 100 feet of rock scrambling to the summit. Some hikers opted to leave their packs at the sign, but we brought ours and didn’t have any issues.
We arrived at Mt. Avalon around 1:00 PM and sat here for a bit to take pictures and chat with a few other hikers. Mt. Avalon gets more attention than Tom and Field because it offers awesome views of Crawford Notch! Because we hiked it in October, we were offered some beautiful foliage, too! I would definitely recommend hiking to Mt. Avalon during peak foliage.
Once we were done taking in the views and chatting it up with other hikers, it was time to scramble back down to the trail! It was a bit tricky going down, but we only had to use our hands, feet, knees, elbows, stomach, left kidney to get done! The next half mile was steep, but after that, we were home free!! We reached our car around 2:30 PM. Our time wasn’t too shabby for a 7-mile loop!
As I said before, there were few people on the trail probably because there are limited views, and unless you are completing the 4,000-footers, why would you hike to a summit with no view? Overall, it was a good hike!
Have you hiked these mountains or others that don’t have views? Did you hike it willingly or are you completing a list, such as the 4,000-Footer List?