OverviewAppalachian Mountains > White Mountains > Twin Range > Galehead Mountain
The White Mountain Guide
calls this mountain a "wooded hump", and indeed at a mere 4024 feet Galehead Mountain is dwarfed by South Twin
's nearly 5000-foot mass, separated from Galehead by only a short col. The summit is treed in, but there are some viewpoints along the short trail up from Galehead Hut.
Westernmost mountain of the Twin Range, Galehead extends west from South Twin where it is met by the Garfield Ridge, a series of small bumps joining it to Mt Garfield
, the northernmost mountain of the Franconia Range.
Galehead is visited by peak baggers intent on completing the White Mountain 4000 Footer List
, by overnight visitors to Galehead Hut seeking an easy stroll, and as a side trip for Appalachian Trail through-hikers.
The origin of the mountain's name is obscure. Local tradition favors the idea that the Gale River (at the head of which the mountain is located) was named for one Susannah Gale, on whose land the river began. Another theory invokes a Mr. Gale who "sent a gun to Ethan Allen Crawford." I'm told the name Gale was used (at least for the river) on maps as far back as 1853.
Galehead Mountain is located near the northern border of the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest. The shortest approach is from the Northwest. From Interstate 93, take route 3 east about three and a half miles to the Five Corners intersection (Trudeau Rd) to reach Gale River Rd and Gale River Loop Road (FR 92) leading to the Gale River trailhead.
$3/day WMNF parking, or get a discount pass
Usual WMNF restrictions on fires, camping, etc.
Additional restrictions on camping within the Pemigewasset Wilderness.
The Gale River trail lies within a municipal watershed, so be extra careful not to pollute the streams.
The only route to the summit is the Frost Trail
, a half-mile, 250-vertical-foot jaunt up from Galehead Hut.
The hut is located at the juncture of two major east-west trails (both of which are part of the Appalachian Trail):
The Garfield Ridge Trail
extends over Mt Garfield to the west and continues to Mt Lafayette.
climbs nearby South Twin Mountain and continues over Mt Guyot and Mt Zealand, all the way to the Zealand Falls Hut in Zealand Notch.
The Gale River Trail
reaches the Garfield Ridge Trail not far from Galehead Hut, and is the easiest approach to Galehead Mountain. Note: in August 2011, a one-mile section in the middle of this trail was relocated
, avoiding two stream crossings by remaining on the west side of the river.
A longer approach is possible using the Garfield Trail
and more of the Garfield Ridge Trail, and this makes a good loop since the trailhead is near the trailhead for the Gale River Trail.
Various approaches from the east are also possible, though all involve a thousand-foot drop from South Twin Mountain. The most promising eastern approach for a day hike is over the North Twin trail. Longer variations would probably involve a stay at Zealand Hut or Guyot Campsite.
Finally, the Twin Brook Trail
reaches the Galehead Hut from Thirteen Falls tentsite, low in the Franconia Brook basin to the southwest. Except for the Thirteen Falls trail, which descends from the Garfield Ridge a bit further west, the only routes to the Thirteen Falls Tentsite require a very long (though basically flat) hike from the Wilderness Trail far to the south, so this is not a popular route.
Camping, Huts, etc
AMC High Mountain Huts
is located just east of the summit. Open mid-May to mid-October, reservations required.
The next hut to the east is Zealand Falls Hut
The next hut west is Greenleaf Hut
The nearest are the Garfield Ridge Campsite & Shelter, located near the summit of Mt Garfield, and the Thirteen Falls Tentsite, located in an out-of-the-way spot southwest of Galehead Mountain.
Galehead Mountain can also be reached from Guyot Campsite & Shelter, located south of Mt Guyot's summit not far from the midpoint of the Twinway.
These are plentiful in New Hampshire. SP member Whitelief informs me that there are some located on Gale River Rd. Another that may be convenient is Lafayette Campground
in Franconia Notch State Park.
Here's a NH Directory
with some more.
Allowed, subject to the following rules:
Unless otherwise posted, you may only camp:
* Below treeline (where trees are 8 feet or taller).
(exception: in winter you may camp above treeline if there is at least three feet of snow under your tent (but you may not camp over bodies of water).
* At least 200 feet from the trail and water sources.
* At least a quarter of a mile from any road or facility (ie, campsite, platform, shelter, hut).
When To Climb
Year-round. In winter, access to the trailheads can be a problem, since the smaller roads (eg, Gale River Rd) will be closed. Current road status