Caretakers’ Favorites: 10 White Mountain Gems

March 20, 2015
Caretakers Favorites - 10 White Mountain Gems
Chris MoodyA panoramic view of Owl’s Head and the Pemigewassett Wilderness.

AMC’s backcountry caretakers spend weeks at a time deep in the White Mountains, so it follows that they would have strong opinions about the best spots in their majestic-but-temporary homes. Here are the places that 10 past and current AMC caretakers identify as their favorites—some of them so spectacular that they received multiple nominations.

Read more about AMC’s Caretaker program, and view a slideshow detailing the life of a caretaker, in the feature Taking Care, from the March/April 2015 issue of AMC Outdoors.

Dylan Summers
AMC Caretaker: 2013-2015 (rotating caretaker)
Favorite Place: Mount Liberty summit at sunset

“Caretakers like to debate which campsite has the best nearby sunset. My favorite is Mount Liberty. It’s an easy half-mile from Liberty Springs (compared to Garfield or West Bond). Arrive early to watch the alpenglow illuminate the Bonds and Franconia Ridge, then settle in for a spectacular display as the sun sets behind the Kinsman-Cannonridge.”

  • How to get there: From U.S. Route 93: 4 miles one way, via the Whitehouse Trail, Liberty Spring Trail, and Appalachian Trail/Franconia RidgeTrail.
  • Nearest overnight options: Liberty Spring Tentsite (0.6 mile away) ,Greenleaf Hut (4.6 miles away)

Chris Moody
AMC Caretaker: 2014 (rotating caretaker)
Favorite Place: Mount Garfield

“Looking into the Pemigewasset from Garfield is mystical, the way the surrounding ridges and summits (Guyot, Bondcliff, Franconia, etc.) create a bowl. Meanwhile, Owl’s Head protrudes from the middle. It’s a bowl full of wild…and while it is always nice being down in the woods seeing the moose,swimming in the falls, or observing the huge mushrooms, looking at it from above at this spot is something else. It’s the view of a god or something similar. Not only do you overlook the Pemi, off in the distance, close to where the sun and moon rise, is Mount Washington. In the opposite direction, looking into Vermont, you can see the sun make its last dance before the day is up.Definitely my favorite place to be in the Whites!”

  • How to get there: Via the Garfield Trail: 4.8 miles one way. From the Lafayette Campground: 8.4 miles one way via the Falling Waters Trail and Appalachian Trail (Franconia Ridge Trail and Garfield Ridge Trail).
  • Nearest overnight options: Garfield Ridge Campsite (0.5 mile away), Greenleaf Hut (4.8 miles away), Galehead Hut (3.3 miles away)

James Vittetau
AMC Caretaker: 2012-2015 (13 Falls Tent site, Mahoosuc roving caretaker)
Favorite Place: The swimming hole near 13 Falls Tent site

“One of my favorite spots in the Whites is the big swimming hole at the bottom of the falls near 13 Falls Tentsite. There is no better place that I know of to take a quick dip after a long day of trail work or composting work. The pool is big enough to do laps and there is a great lounge rock that gets plenty of sun. The water might not be warm (it will be very cold) but it sure is refreshing.”

  • How to get there: From Lincoln Woods Visitor Center: 7.8 miles one way,via the Lincoln Woods Trail and Franconia Brook Trail. Thirteen Falls is also accessible from Garfield Ridge via the Franconia Brook Trail and from Galehead Hut via the Twin Brook Trail.
  • Nearest overnight options: 13 Falls Tentsite, Galehead Hut (2.6 miles away)

Emily Fox
AMC Caretaker: 2013-2014 (Ethan Pond Campsite, 13 FallsTentsite)
Favorite Place: The view of Owls Head from 13 Falls

“The peaceful falls, sun-warmed ledge, and view of Owl’s Head, is my favorite place. Once heavily logged until even Owl’s Head stood bare, today’s beauty is a result of each of our individual actions to follow Leave No Trace, and where I find hope for the future of all of our places. To get here, go across the first crossing on the Lincoln Brook Trail and sit upon the flat ledge where you can see Owl’s Head above and the falls below.”

  • How to get there: See above.
  • Nearest overnight options: See above.

Joe Roman
AMC Caretaker: 2012-2015 (Guyot Campsite, Kinsman Pond Campsite,Field Coordinator)
Favorite Place: West Bond summit

“I enjoy [West Bond] for its isolation from anything man-made. You can truly only see a few man-made things from the summit. Its distance from any trail head will usually give the hiker the solitude they deserve. Not to mention it is a personal favorite for sunsets. Located in the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, it offers a view of over 20 4,000-footers including both the Franconia and Presidential ranges. There are truly few other places like it in New Hampshire.”

  • How to get there: From Lincoln Woods Visitor Center: 11 miles one way via the Lincoln Woods Trail, Bondcliff Trail, and West Bond Spur. From the Zealand Trail head: 7.7 miles one way via the Zealand Trail, Twin way, Bondcliff Trail, and West Bond Spur. From the North Twin Trail head: 8.9 miles via the North Twin Trail, North Twin Spur, Twin way, Bondcliff Trail, and West Bond Spur.The Gale River and Garfield Trails can both be followed to the AppalachianTrail/Twinway to reach West Bond.
  • Nearest overnight options: Guyot Campsite (1 mile away), Galehead Hut (4.5miles away)

Justin Martin
AMC Caretaker: 2014-2015 (Guyot Campsite)
Favorite Place: West Bond summit at sunset

“The West Bond Trail is a 0.5-mile spur off the Bondcliff Trail. From the GuyotShelter, one can get to the summit of West Bond in about half an hour. The summit provides some of best and most expansive views of uninterrupted wilderness in the White Mountains region. The views are particularly breathtaking around dusk when you can watch the sun set behind Franconia Ridge to the west. On a clear night, bring a snack, warm layer, and a headlamp, and stick around to watch the stars come out. It’s amazing.”

  • How to get there: See above.
  • Nearest overnight options: See above.

Kate Orlofsky
AMC Caretaker: 2013-2014 (Guyot Campsite, Speck Pond Campsite)
Favorite Place: Bondcliff Trail

“Hiking this section of trail for the first time is something I remember vividly. It was my first day as a caretaker at Guyot Campsite, and I felt overwhelmed—so I decided to go on a hike. I found not only incredible views—from the peaks and the ridge, out into the distance, and deep into the heart of the Pemigewasset Wilderness—but also an amazing clarity that left me in awe of the place and in awe of my responsibility to protect it.”

  • How to get there: Follow the directions from Lincoln Woods above, orfollow the Zealand or North Twin directions and continue past West Bond to Bondcliff (1.7 miles one way).
  • Nearest overnight options: See above.

Declan Scannell
AMC Caretaker: 2014-2015 (rotating caretaker)
Favorite Place: Wild River Trail

“The Wild River Trail, just south of the Imp Campsite on the Appalachian Trail, is both beautiful and challenging. It is not a trail for the weak-willed—it is steep, gnarly, blow downs abound, and it is deep in the woods. It is a trail less traveled which follows a vibrant stream complete with waterfalls, crystal pools, and extensive beaver ponds. The low use of this trail certainly has helped protect the beauty and serenity of those 4-ish miles, and I encourage travelers to experience that essence with only their eyes, ears, and noses—and not to mar it with clumsy footing.”

  • How to get there: From NH Route 16: 9.5 miles one way via the StonyBrook Trail and Moriah Brook Trail.
  • Nearest overnight options: Wild River Campsite and Spruce Brook Campsite (on the trail), Blue Brook Shelter (2.3 miles away), Imp Campsite (6.7 miles away)

Bobby Haran
AMC Caretaker: 2013-2014 (Garfield Ridge Campsite, Imp Campsite)
Favorite Place: Shelburne-Moriah Mountain

“It may not be a 4,000-footer, but that makes it all the better in my mind. It’s 100 percent secluded so you’re guaranteed the summit to yourself. Make sure you follow the little footpath to the north from the summit cairn to get an unbelievable view of the Wild River Wilderness. It’s probably one of the most peaceful spots in the area. It’s on the edge of the Wild River Wilderness and is easy to find on a map; just make sure you’re prepared for a bushwhack! The trails are very grown in.”

  • How to get there: From US Route 2: 5.6 miles one way via the Rattle River Trail and Kenduskeag Trail. Or, follow the Appalachian Trail/Carter-Moriah Trail over the Carter Range.
  • Nearest overnight options: Rattle River Shelter (3.9 miles away), Imp Campsite (4.2 miles away)

Sally Manikian
AMC Caretaker: 2007-Present (Imp Campsite, Mahoosuc roving caretaker, Backcountry Resource Conservation Manager—Campsite and Caretaker Program Manger)
Favorite Place: Mahoosuc Trail near Trident Col

  • “Trident Col is a tiny, low-use site in the southern Mahoosucs. I spent two summers responsible for its direct maintenance,and have since then continued to make at least one trip there every summer.Trident is a wooded-in site, but a short walk to the spur brings you to some magnificent ledges on the Mahoosuc Trail. Sitting there at noon, on any day of the week, you won’t see a soul. It’s a gift in the busy White Mountain summer.”
  • How to get there: From Lead Mine State Forest: 12.9-mile loop via the Appalachian Trail/Centennial Trail, Mahoosuc Trail, Peabody Brook Trail,and North Road.
  • Nearest overnight options: Trident Col Tent site (0.2 mile spur from the Mahoosuc Trail)

Plan your trip to these or any other spot in the White Mountains with the aid of the White Mountain Guide, 29th ed. (AMC Books).


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