Mt. Willey, Mt. Field, & Mt. Tom
Kedron Flume Trail - Ethan Pond Trail - Willey Range Trail - Mt. Tom Spur - A-Z Trail - Avalon Trail - Walk back to truck
Distance: 7.34 mi. (on mtn) 10.5 mi. (total)
Elevation Gain: 3,047 ft. (overall) 3,574 ft. (total)
Time: 7:26 (on mtn) 1:22 (walk back to truck)
Leaving from the Willey House Site it was still a little cloudy, but this was predicted to go away. The trail heads into the trees behind a picnic area and is pretty easy walking. It works its way to the left before switching back to the right and going up the side of the hill until you reach where it crosses the railroad tracks. The trail heads straight across the tracks and up into the woods before following the side hill more. It continues pretty easy until the brook crossing at Kedron Flume. There wasn't much water here so it was a problem, but it looks like if there were it could be a bit slick. You can take in the small view from here before heading further up the trail. After Kedron Flume, the trail gets rockier, steeper, and today more muddy (there was a thunderstorm the night before). Some of the sections of trail now can bit a bit difficult with poor footing and being steep. This doesn't really go away until the Ethan Pond Trail.
Shortly before Kedron Flume
The Ethan Pond Trail can have some big rocks in it, but only gently gains elevation so it is a nice break from what you just did. You aren't on this trail long before it diverges to the right and you start out on the Willey Range Trail. Once on the Willey Range Trail it starts to head back uphill steeper again. It isn't too bad to start, but soon gets to some much steeper and washed out sections as well as coming to a series of wooden steps built into the trail made of old trees. Shortly after this you come to a series of 10 wooden ladders built going up the trail. From the base you can only make out about 6 of these before you see the trail turn to the left. One wouldn't think stairs/ladders would be hard, but with gaining almost 100 ft of elevation in a very short distance isn't easy any way you do it.
About the first half of the ladder section
After the ladders, the trail continues to stay quite steep and a bit rocky. After leaving the ladders around 3500 ft of elevation, this section of trail seems to just keep going on with no real breaks. But all of a sudden you will come to a path at a small unreadable sign that leads to the right and to a very rewarding view. This makes the hard climb all worth it.Just up the trail from this is the summit and just on the other side of the summit is another smaller view to the west.
A great view to the East across the notch
Heading down from Mt. Willey the trail is pretty easy and gentle with no real hard spots. Once it reaches the low point of the saddle and starts heading back up, it does get rockier and a little steeper. Shortly before the summit you will also come to one steep rock scramble and climb. When you reach the summit there is a small path leading to an opening on your right with views to the north and the presidential range. There is also a more limited view through a couple trees to the west a few feet past the summit on the trail.
View to the North from the small opening on Mt. Field
The trail going down Mt. Field again is quite easy not being very steep and only have a few rocky sections. You gradually work your way down in and out of some thick trees until you come to the A-Z Trail and turn right for a couple hundred feet. The Mt. Tom Spur leaves to your right and is marked by a small sign on the other side of the trees you are facing. The Mt. Tom Spur is pretty easy as well with only one steep rocky section. Today it was a bit muddy for the length of it, but not too bad. Near the summit I first took the trail to the left to get to the actual summit before going on the trail to the right to the view point.
The only harder section on the Mt. Tom Spur
Almost as soon as I had my bag down on the ground at the summit, I heard something. When I looked, it was the first of what was going to be 3 Gray Jays checking me out. Having plenty of experience with these guys from snowmobiling, I knew they wanted a snack. So I got out some of my cookies and started making friends. After going through some cookies and taking some pictures, I headed over to the view point on the Eastern side of the summit.
The Gray Jays like cookies as much as I do
The view over here is another one of the great views of whites in my mind. Where you are standing you can't make out any roads and the only civilization you can see is the observatory on Mt. Washington. It is hard not to enjoy a site like that.
Great view from Mt. Tom
After having something to eat, taking in the view, and chatting with three hikers that are studying to be catholic priests (there was a group of them scattered all around hiking) I headed back down. Starting back down the A-Z Trail, it was a little steep and rocky with many stone arranged as steps in the trail. None of them were overly big so it wasn't too hard going though. After getting onto the Avalon Trail the hiking got even easier and continues to do so the closer to the end you get. After coming out at the Crawford Depot, now I had to do was walk the about 3 miles back to my truck.
The summit of Mt. Washington finally came out of the clouds by the time I got to Mt. Tom
Looking down into the notch at Mt. Webster
Mt. Willard Section House foundation
Willey Brook Bridge overlooking the notch
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE