Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Garfield, Owl's Head, Galehead Mountain, NH
Trails: Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Franconia Brook Trail, Lincoln Brook Trail, bushwhack, herd path, Twin Brook Trail, Frost Trail, Gale River Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 21, 2020
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Second car in the Gale River lot at 4:30am. Two others when we returned around 7pm. Room for between a dozen and two dozen I’d say. First car in the Garfield lot around 5am. Room for about a dozen. Only one there upon our return around 7pm.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Ice - Black, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Wet Trail, Ice - Blue, Wet/Slippery Rock, Ice - Breakable Crust, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Snow - Spring Snow, Snow/Ice - Small Patches 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: The crossings on Garfield and Gale River trails were all rock hopped easily enough. The 13 Falls crossing and the Lincoln Brook Trail crossing were a little challenging with dry feet. If you had high enough boots that were waterproof, you could step in the water on the 13 Falls crossing and then take a long step across. Otherwise, you’d be leaping across or getting a foot wet. The Lincoln Brook Trail crossing shortly thereafter was rock hoppable but required a little bit of searching and use of a wet log.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Garfield and Gale River Trails are both blazed in blue. Since we did a good portion of both in the dark it’s hard to say how frequently they were blaze but I’d say they were blazed regularly but not frequently. Blazing was fresh enough on both. Both are easy to follow (even in the dark). Occasional older blazes on Lincoln Brook Trail but nothing much. I don’t recall any blaze on Twin Brook Trail, Franconia Brook Trail, or Frost Trail but the latter is very well travelled and easy to follow and although the former two aren’t terribly well travelled they aren’t hard to follow. The only issue is that there is a large blowdown obscuring the trail partway up Twin Brook Trail. I don’t recall exactly how far into it was but I’m guessing it was between 0.25-0.5mi from 13 Falls. Some people may have trouble seeing the trail here as the trail does bend to the right at this point too. Only one other small, new, pine blowdown that’s no issue further up the trail I believe. Surprisingly, the trail with the most blowdowns was actually Garfield Trail. Some newer, some older but several. Not quite as many but at least a few on Gale River Trail as well. I don’t recall any on Frost Trail, Franconia Brook Trail, or Lincoln Brook Trail although there were likely some on the latter two I’m forgetting about. Lots of annoying blowdowns on the bushwhack ;P  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Would not recommend this hike for dogs given the current icy conditions and the steep section of Garfield Ridge Trail we were on. Of course you’d need to be able to trust tour dog on a bushwhack too and it would need to be fit enough to handle a 20+ mile day. We didn’t see any.  
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: None 
Comments: A great hike with Heat Lightning to get my 27th-29th 4000 footers for this month bringing my total # of November 4ks to 37. 10 more to go to grid out the month!

Not as cold as I thought it would be (but just as windy) and I spent most of the day in just a fleece. Started out in the mid 30s I believe and we finished in similar temps I think. Only saw 3 people all day.

Took us just over 2.5hrs to make it to the summit of Garfield. We put microspikes on well before reaching the jct of Garfield Ridge Trail (maybe 0.5-0.75mi before the jct) probably around 3500ft or a litter higher and we could’ve put them on sooner. It’s definitely boney so your spikes will get beat up but they are necessary. Rock beaters are probably okay if you’re fairly sure footed and experienced so long as they aren’t TOO dull. A little kore actual snow and less ice once at the ridge jct. Moderate temps but pretty windy and cold at the summit which was totally in the cloud. A short ways descending along Garfield Ridge Trail though and we began to get views toward Galehead and the Twins so the clouds weren’t too low. I was a bit concerned about the waterfall section and how icy it mighh be but it was actually running water at the top which turned to ice near the bottom. A somewhat tricky spot or two but I was able to do it in my microspikes which are pretty dull. After dulling our spikes some more, we took them off at the jct of Franconia Brook Trail although we could’ve left them on as we soon encountered more ice where they would’ve been helpful. This ice is near the top of the trail though and it disappears for good not long after so I’d recommend you keep your spikes on until partway down Franconia Brook Trail.

Once at 13 Falls we took a quick water and food break and continued on Lincoln Brook Trail. We started our bushwhack at 2800ft and headed southwest for about a quarter mile to 3000ft where we hit the old logging road which I’d hit once before while bushwhacking this. We followed this old road for nearly 0.75 I’d say to about 3500ft at which point we took a right and started bushwhacking south/southwest steeply up the slope to gain the ridge at about 3900ft. So this was about 400ft I’d gain over 0.3mi. The footing wasn’t terrible (it was meh) and the woods were descent. I’d be interested to continue following this old road but it did seem to become a bit more obscure at this point, we figured we’d milked as much elevation out of it as we could, and I suspect that if we travelled too much further along it that we’d hit VERY thick woods bushwhack up to the ridge/summit from that point. The road is followable and has a nice grade though (we were suspicious at times that it was contouring too much but you continue to slowly gain elevation). Once on the ridge we headed south along it toward the summit. At times, the woods become thick here so you’ve got to keep an eye out and try to pick yourself best route. I’ve heard that staying just a little west of the ridge helps to avoid some of the terribly thick stuff (not that it’s really that bad) but I never seen to do this. You’ll pick up a herd path somewhere around the north peak. Lots of blowdowns obscure it though and we got on/off it a lot. Some of the same blowdowns were on it when I last did this bushwhack in September but it definitely seemed harder to follow this time. It got colder and we definitely felt the wind kore once on the ridge.

We met Addy and Scott on the summit and enjoyed some nice conversation with the first humans we’d seen all day ;P We followed the same route down with two exceptions: 1) I started dropping off the ridge to the northeast right around where the second highest contour line around Owls Head ends fo the north. A very small deviation from what we did on the way in but holy hell did we hit some awful woods...we corrected our course and wasted only 15-20min in impenetrable woods but man was that horrific. 2) we dropped off the old road maybe 0.1mi sooner and bushwhacked about 0.1mi-0.2mi to the east of where we began our bushwhack in an attempt to save some time/distance. Same difference.

The trip up back up to Galehead was uneventful. Not much of a need for microspikes anywhere on Twin Brook Trail. Would’ve been helpful on Frost Trail to Galehead but I managed without. Same headed down Garfield Ridge to Galehead Rievr for a stretch, and to a lesser degree, a small portion of Gale River. My recommendation would be to put them on at Frost Trail and leave them on until past the icy sections on Garfield Ridge Trail. If you’re not sure where that is, then just take them on at the jct with Gale River Trail. The icy portions on that weren’t as bad. We put on our headlamps somewhere along Garfield Ridge Trail I believe. Gale River Trail was a mostly nice descent. Had some bad mud down low though. Ran into Bob who was night hiking which was nice.  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2020-11-23 
Link: https:// 
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