Via The Garfield Trail 10 miles total
Mt. Garfield is located in the Northen Pemigewasset Wilderness, at 4,500 feet it comes in at number 17 of New Hampshire’s four thousand footers. There are several ways to reach the bare summit of Garfield. It can be done in a multiple day trip traverse of the Pemigewasset, or from the South using the Franconia Brook Trail to the Garfield Ridge. We chose to approach from the North on the Garfield Trail, it is a more direct approach and is very well graded. Despite the distance of 10 miles round trip, this is a mountain that can be climbed by nearly anyone or dog. The trail consistently has good footing, and there is only one section of stream crossings where you may get your feet a bit wet. We had to offer no assistance to either dog at any point in the hike. Water is a bit scarce once you begin to climb so pack a bit extra.
The Garfield Trail is located on the Gale River Loop Road also known as FR 92 a seasonally open dirt road off NH 3. There are signs for White Mountain Forest hiking trails along NH 3, but it is easy to miss the road. Approaching from 93, east on NH 3, you have gone to far if you reach the Beaver Brook Picnic area. If traveling west on NH 3 the road is located about .3 miles from the picnic area on the left side of the road. The trailhead and parking area are easily found once you have reached the correct road. A fee is collected on site, but the closest rest rooms are at the Beaver Brook Picnic Area, so plan accordingly.
The entirety of the Garfield Trail is easy to moderate in grade as it climbs Mt. Garfield from the north and follows an old fire tower access road. There is only one steep pitch once the Garfield Ridge Trail is reached at mile 4.8 and it is a very short .2 miles from here to the magnificent summit. The remains of a fire tower base are located on the bare summit and there are 360-degree views of the entire Pemigewiasset Wilderness. It is a spectacular to see the entire circle of ridgeline of the Wilderness and the small towns to the north. We climbed this mountain on a warm summer day in July but the winds at the top were quite cold. There were many people and dogs enjoying a walk that day, so keep in mind that because of the gentle nature of this trail, it is heavily used, especially at peak season. It is also important to note that this trailhead is part of a watershed for a municipal water system so take care not to pollute while enjoying this area.
Distance from the Gale River Loop Road ( FR 92):
Garfield Ridge Trail 4.8 miles 2,700 feet
Summit of Mt. Garfield 5 miles 3,000 feet