Saturday, January 2, 2021

Mt Avalon in Winter

With my Christmas vacation week, I was looking for a couple great White Mountain hikes to explore.  One of the ones I tried was going back to South and Middle Moat Mountain.  I've done it over and over, but it's only about an hour from my house and has amazing 360 degree views.  The other one was to revisit another awesome peak - Mt Avalon!

Mount Avalon in Winter

Choosing the Peak

I chose Mt Avalon for a few reasons.  My original plan was to do a 6-8 mile day.  I love that by taking the Avalon trail, you can easily hit up three peaks in about 7 miles: Mt Avalon, Mt Field, and Mt Tom.  This provides a lot of bang for your buck and hikers get gorgeous Crawford Notch views.  The last two times I've hiked this trail, I've been hit with snowstorms and haven't gotten to see it, so I was hoping this year would be different.

Sometimes you have to abandon the plan

I was wrong ... hiking up to Mt Avalon was slower than expected.  We hit two sizeable stream crossings as well as a trail that was literally a river of ice.  Halfway through our hike, high winds and wet snow made it a blustery white out on the summit.  The slow trek made us abandon our original plan to do three peaks and settled for a 3.4 mile out and back.  Even though it wasn't the hike we planned, it was pretty magical walking in the whites through a snow storm.

icy trail in the white mountains
Dexter did a better job navigating the icy trail than I did!

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Mount Avalon

Getting there:
Mount Avalon is accessible from the Avalon Trail located in Crawford Notch State Park.  The trailhead is easy to find.  Park at the Crawford Depot train station which is adjacent to the AMC Highland Center.  Cross the train tracks and follow the path to the trailhead which is well signed just down the path.
Snowy summit
Snowy Summit of Mount Avalon in the White Mountains

The hike to Mount Avalon is completely on the Avalon Trail.  About 0.1 miles from the train tracks, you will come to another large trail sign and the offshoot on the left to Mt Willard.  Continue straight on Avalon Trail.  The trail goes through beautiful hardwood forest and fairly soon has a water crossing.  On our hiking day, the water was high and wide, and we had to walk upstream to safely cross.  The stream was beautiful and had rolling cascades. 

After the stream crossing, the trail continues to climb and soon you will have to cross the stream again.  Due to high water, were forced to go up stream about 50 feet and cross and a narrower patch.  It was a beautiful brook - with more cascades. 

The trail reaches the junction for the A-Z trail.  Turn left to stay on the Avalon Trail.  It will start to climb and the forest transitions into more evergreen and boreal type forest. The trail got steeper (and icier) as we approached the summit. Eventually the trail levels out a bit as you approach the junction for the Mt Avalon summit.  Take the spur to the left and you'll reach Mt Avalon's summit.  There's not much room on the top - a small rock slab and a few trails to overlooks. 

Unfortunately, for the second time in a row, I got a snow storm at the summit and didn't get a view.  We turned around and returned the same way we came up.  For more hiking, you can pair this with other peaks in the Wiley Range.

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Distance: 3.4 miles out and back
cascades along avalon trail
Beautiful cascades along the Avalon trail


- The Highland Center can be used for bathroom access and overnight accommodations. 

- For winter hiking, dress in multiple non-cotton warm layers, bring gloves, scarves, and hats.  Pack first aid, water, food, and extra clothing.

- In winter, you will need traction to do this hike.  Although there was little snow on the trail, I needed my microspikes for almost the entire hike.  Trekking poles were also really helpful for the descent over icy trail.

- This is a dog friendly trail.

- Parking at the Crawford Depot and Highland Center is charged in the high season hiking months but didn't seem to be charging when we went in December.

Skunked for a view again

Even though I didn't get to enjoy the Mt Avalon view again, I still enjoyed this hike and walking through the snow.  It just means, I'll get to revisit it again!

See more photos and adventure on my INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!

Mt Avalon in winter
Mount Avalon in Winter, White Mountains, NH

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