Mount Galehead and Mount Garfield Trail

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Bethlehem, New Hampshire

Mount Galehead and Mount Garfield Trail is a 15.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Bethlehem, New Hampshire that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length15.1 miElevation gain3,946 ftRoute typeLoop
dog friendlyBackpackingHikingNature tripsBird watchingForestViews
Description
Waypoints (4)
Tips
Getting There

This long loop hike will bag you two more 4,000 foot peaks in the New Hampshire White Mountains. This is a long loop hike that brings you to a very cool AMC hut nestled between peaks. Mount Garfield has the best views over the Pemigewasset wilderness to the Franconia Ridge peaks and the Bond Range.

If you park a car it is $3 per day.

Both Trailheads are off Route 3 several miles from where route 3 intersects I-93. This can be done in a loop hike with car shuttling.

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Reviews (41)
Photos (631)
Recordings (34)
Completed (189)
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Robert Couture
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HikingGreat!

Note: I ALMOST missed the summit like this map did, there’s a horrible sign near Garfield that does not list the Garfield summit, it just points to Lafayette. Go up or you’ll be sorry!

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Robert Couture
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HikingGreat!Muddy

Hiked last Sunday: This is a lovely and long trail! I appreciated how moderate the climb was since the mileage was so high, but it took a solid 9.5 hours including a nice long break at galehead hut and garfield’s summit. It was in the 60’s and sunny all day, no snow or wind, and yet the majority of these trails are perpetually muddy or little streams. I kept my feet dry, but just make sure you have sturdy boots. The outlook before Galehead has a great view of the twin mountains and the hut, while Garfield has epic views of Pemigewasset wilderness, owl’s head, Franconia ridge, and the bonds. This is a great view to map out a pemi loop if it’s in your near future. Watch out when you descend the Garfield peak, your two options are Garfield ridge trail or Garfield trail. One leads to Lafayette, and the other goes back to your car. I made a mistake, bushwhacked back to the right trail through INTENSELY thick trees, and could believe how deep the moss and decaying vegetation was (which I couldn’t even see because the branches were that thick). I clocked the loop at 14.7 miles, starting and ending at Gale River Trail parking lot.

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Paul Rollins
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Hiking

Easy at bottom. Needed ice spikes at ridge line. Difficult along AT over to Garfield. Lots of very steep and icy trail. Views were incredible.

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Steve Lynch
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Hiking

Amazingly muddy!! But still great. It came out to an even 15miles for me. I took the road back from Galehead trailhead to Garfield trailhead. Beautiful run 4:47hrs and 4100 elevation gain for total loop. My Fitbit said it was 17.8 miles and 4930 elevation

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Don Rudy
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Hiking
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Sam Rosen
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Hiking
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Sam Rosen
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Hiking
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Andrea Hanson
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HikingRockyScramble

Excellent hike with lots of variety in terrain, breathtaking views and not too hard for a strong beginner/intermediate hiker! •I clocked the full loop - Garfield Trailhead>Garfield Summit>Galehead Hut>Galehead Summit>Gale River Trailhead>Garfield Trailhead at 18.6mi, 8:07hrs and a 9,864ft elevation gain. •Overall, the 18 mile loop is hard. There are easy and moderate spots mixed in which made the trail interesting and fun. •If you only do Garfield out-and-back it’s a pretty easy hike. I clocked 6.1 miles trailhead to summit - one way time: 2:36. I’d rate the first 4-5 miles “Easy” and then some moderate and last .4mi is a scramble but it goes quick and well worth the epic views! •From the crossroads of the Garfield/Gale River Trail to the Galehead Hut it took 2:02. The beginning was the most difficult part of the hike. It’s about 800ft elevation drop quite quickly. Be prepared to be on your hands and feet. After that it’s moderate-hard to the Hut. More beautiful views at the Hut and don’t miss the overlook - there’s a sign - just before the summit (which is just a pile of rocks at the highest point.) •Hut to summit round trip is 1.2mi (13 minutes each way.) Then a “hard” .7mi (22 minutes) from the hut down to the Gale River Trail. Clocked 4.7 miles (1:49) down to the road. It’s hard the first half, then easy/moderate after you cross the river. Then walk almost 2 miles down the dirt road from Gale River Trailhead to Garfield Trailhead. For comparison thought the Franconia Ridge loop was harder at only 11 miles. Overall so worth it!

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varma saripalli
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Hiking
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Lori Gress
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HikingGreat!RockyScramble

One of my favorite hikes! Started (and ended) at Galehead parking lot, headed up to Galehead. Hut is beautiful - nice to use a bathroom and grab a bite. Peak is just a cairn in the woods but worth the hike for the views at the hut, lookout, and of course to peak bag. Hiked over to Garfield. Trail was pretty easy much of the way but had a really steep, rocky final ascent that personally I prefer to climb up vs. down. Garfield summit and views are breathtaking! Great perspective on Lafayette Ridge. Easy descent down Garfield Trail back to the Galehead Parking lot. Although 15 miles long, legs still felt good at the end thanks to this easy descent. Would recommend this way!! Enjoyed long breaks, sunshine, food, company, and views at both mountains.

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Kristen hartley
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Hiking
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Nathan Levad
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Hiking
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Eric Cunningham
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Hiking

Went up Garfield first and got tricked by how easy the hike up was that it would be just as easy to get over to Galehead. Wrong! The Garfield ridge trail had some not impossible but pretty serious ledges that I was glad were dry, then drops you down 1,200 knee smashing feet and forces you to ascend back up to the summit of Galehead. Then hammers the knees again on the descent down the Gale River trail until the last leg. Once you reach the Gale River trailhead it's about 1.5 miles uphill on the dirt road till you return to your car at the Garfield trailhead. This started as an easy hike and turned into something pretty serious with no quick way out. Definitely a challenging hike!

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Ben Pease
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I'd recommend two vehicles. Drop 1 car at Galehead parking (Gale River Trail end) and carpool to the Garfield trailhead to start (same dirt road). This will save you about 1.5 miles of walking on the road (or through the woods) after a VERY long day. This was a great hike and Garfield is 360 degrees of beauty, but this was also a long and tiring day. Even though it was closed, the view and lunch at the Hut with other hikers was fun.

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Alex Acevedo
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BackpackingBlowdownScrambleSnowWashed out
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Jason Parkhurst
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Hiking

I measured 16.5 miles using gps data and taking the road back (which should’ve been a hair shorter). Otherwise great day on the trail! Not you’re standard ridge line hike - lots of going downhill between Garfield and Galehead. Glad to do Garfield first as doing Galehead first would have been far more difficult.

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Alex Acevedo
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HikingMuddyRockyScramble
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Kristen Richard
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Hiking

This was my first 4000’ hike and definitely won’t be my last. Even on a cloudy day, view was gorgeous! Challenging for sure, but well worth it.

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Katie L
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HikingRockyScramble

The hike up to Garfield was fairly easy, took less time than planned. It was very foggy but I'm sure the views would have been amazing. The trail from Garfield to Galehead consists of scrambles down large boulders, it seemed to be never-ending. My dog was great at this but it did a toll on my knees. Galehead Summit has no views but the Lookout Point is worth stopping at. We walked from Galehead down to the parking area and then walked the mile and a half on the road. I ran out of water on the descent but there were numerous stream Crossings so I was able to filter and refill supply. Calculated a little more than 15 miles and took us 8 hours overall, with about 20 minutes at each Peak and lots of breaks.

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Seth Bean
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HikingMuddyRockyScramble

This is a tough hike, I started up Garfield first and that was pretty easy, only took me a little under two hours and has one of the best views around. I would say the hard part is the ridge, you’re constantly descending and ascending, makes for a longer hike than it is. By the time you get to Galehead you’re pretty tired and it’s a steep rocky climb to the summit and it’s a closed summit. That’s about 9 miles, then you have to head back down which is another 6 miles if you have walk the road back to your car. Still fun though.

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