Mt. Garfield, located just miles east northeast of Mt. Lafayette and Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire's White Mountains is the 14th highest among the four thousand foot peaks in the White Mountains. What makes this mountain stand out from many of the other White Mountains is 1) the relative ease of the hike to the top via the Garfield Trail (class 1) from Gale River Loop Road (off Route 3), and 2) the grand view from the from the top looking at the Pemigwasset Wilderness towards the south.
Mt. Garfield can also be approached by the west from Mt. Lafayette (distance from Mt. Lafayette is 3.5 miles) and the east from the Galehead Hut via the Garfield Ridge Trail as a multiple day and multiple summit hike. The Garfield Ridge Trail is though especially from the west can be a steep and rocky climb.
The Garfield Ridge Trail at the time it summits Mt. Garfield is considered park of the Appalachian Trail link from Georgia to Maine.
The most popular route to get to the top is hike the easy (class 1) Garfield Trail (4.8 miles) to it T-junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail (0.2 miles) which is a steep climb and at parts easy scramble to the summit. The Garfield Trail is well-known for it's relative ease to dayhikers due to the fact that it follows old fire roads and tractor road to the top. Though the hike is ten miles, a hardy hiker and summit Mt. Garfield in four to six hours due to the ease of The Garfield Trail.
GARFIELD TRAIL 4.8 miles one way
TRAILHEAD ELEVATION: 1500'
GARFIELD RIDGE TRAIL 0.2 miles one way (Scramble)
TRAIL INTERSECTION ELEVATION: 4180'
10 miles round trip
Take I-93 north to exit 36, Route 3 toward Twin Mountain. Stay on Route 3 until you see a sign for Gale River dirt road on your right just before the Gale River. If you pass the first intersection there is another road intersection across the Gale River which is better marked. (Gale River Road is closed for snowmobile travel in winter but is usually a plowed section off of Route 3 where hikers can enter). Take Gale River Road to the Garfield Trail parking area (fee).
Gale River Road is closed in winter. Fee at parking area.
Mt. Garfield is best hiked during the late summer and early fall after the black fly season and before Gale River Road is closed. Because of the relative ease until the very end Mt. Garfield also attracts some winter hikers and snowshoes but the winter hike goes up from 10 miles to 12.3 miles, the bulk still being relatively easy. To prevent trail erosion avoid this and other of the higher peaks of the White Mountains due to mud season. June is a decent time to hike this mountain but wear serious bug repellent due to black fly season.
The Garfield Ridge Campsite which is maintained and staffed by the AMC is located just 0.4 miles east if the summit of Mt. Garfield. Campsites have a charge in during the summer and fall seasons.