Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower in Winter

Our winter hike of Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower in White Mountain National Forest made for a great loop including some time above treeline and walking literally in the clouds.


Elevation Gain
0 ft


Segment Distance

Total Distance

Route Description

0 mi0 miStart at Crawford Connector Trailhead
0.4 mi0.4 miCrawford Connector to Crawford Path
2.7 mi3.1 miCrawford Path to Webster Cliff Trail
0.1 mi3.2 miWebster Cliff Trail to summit of Mt. Pierce
0.1 mi3.3 miWebster Cliff Trail back to Crawford Path
1.2 mi4.5 miCrawford Path to Mt. Eisenhower Loop
0.4 mi4.9 miMt. Eisenhower Loop to summit of Mt. Eisenhower
0.4 mi5.3 miContinue on Mt. Eisenhower Loop to the trail juncture with Crawford Path and Edmands Path
2.9 mi8.2 miEdmands Path to Mt. Clinton Rd
1.6 mi9.8 miMt. Clinton Rd back to the parking lot


Hiking Pierce and Eisenhower in Winter

Hike Date: Feb 1, 2020

Park at the Crawford Connector Trailhead just up Mt. Clinton road. The turn is located just north of the AMC Highland Center. The lot is plowed in winter, but expect some snow and ice on the ground so drive carefully. We started on Crawford Connector Trail which immediately crosses Mt. Clinton road and continues into the woods. We shortly crossed a well-built bridge, and joined Crawford Path to head uphill toward the summits.

Bridge on Crawford Connector
Bridge on Crawford Connector

That day, the forest was a beautiful wonderland with trees laden heavy from recent snow (Read about the impression trees like these made on me in the poem Snowy Sentinels). We stayed on Crawford Path for the steady climb into the subalpine zone. Don’t take Mizpah Cutoff toward AMC Mizpah Spring Hut (no lodging in winter) and Nauman Tentsite unless you’re backpacking and spending the night there.

Snowy Woods Along Crawford Path
Snowy Woods Along Crawford Path
Crawford Path Trail Sign
Crawford Path Trail Sign

Just before the turn for Mt. Pierce, we got our first views of Mt. Eisenhower flanked with clouds. On this overcast day, everything was steely gray, lending a fierce coldness to the landscape despite the unseasonably warm temperatures.

Crawford Path before Mt Pierce
Crawford Path before Mount Pierce
Mt Eisenhower from Crawford Path
Mount Eisenhower from Crawford Path

We turned onto Webster Cliff Trail for a quick 0.1 mile jaunt to tag Mt. Pierce. The summit is not above treeline, but atop the winter snowpack and with the stunted scrubby trees that brave the wind all year long, we had views of Mt. Eisenhower as the clouds crept higher up its slopes, threatening to obscure all visibility.

View of Mt Eisenhower from Mt Pierce
View of Mount Eisenhower from Mount Pierce

Continuing on Webster Cliff Trail would take you to Mt. Jackson after 2.4 miles and to Mt. Webster (not a 4,000 footer) 1.3 miles further. As we were heading to Mt. Eisenhower instead, we reversed back to Crawford Path and walked 1.2 miles to the juncture with Mt. Eisenhower Loop. The trail went in and out of the trees and the clouds swirled and passed over us, sometimes affording us views, other times collecting us in their misty haze.

Crawford Path between Mt Pierce and Mt Eisenhower
Crawford Path between Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower
Crawford Path in Fog
Crawford Path in Fog

Mt. Eisenhower Loop led us 0.4 miles to the summit. The trail was very steep and included some wood ladders for help, which were mostly buried in the snow in winter. We enjoyed views back toward Mt. Pierce as the clouds continued to float up the slope and drift over the peak.

Eisenhower Loop Trail Sign
Eisenhower Loop Trail Sign
View of Mt Pierce from Eisenhower Loop
View of Mount Pierce from Eisenhower Loop

Small cairns marked the way to the enormous cairn marking the summit of Mt. Eisenhower. It’s one of my favorite cairns in the Whites, taller than a person and visible from miles away atop the bald summit. The clouds were starting to engulf the peaks by now, but we got a couple fleeting views of the Northern Presis in the distance.

Last Cairn Leading to Mt Eisenhower
Last Cairn Leading to Mount Eisenhower
Mt Eisenhower Summit Cairn
Mount Eisenhower Summit Cairn

The day was pretty mild in terms of wind and temperature, so we sat by that monumental cairn and enjoyed lunch on the open summit. Then, we headed down the other side of Mt. Eisenhower Loop 0.4 miles to the juncture with Crawford Path and Edmands Path. It was immediately clear that most hikers did not travel this route. The well-packed trails we had followed up Mt. Pierce and over to Mt. Eisenhower were replaced by deep snow drifts and windswept tracks. 

Cairns Leading Down from Mt Eisenhower
Cairns Leading Down from Mount Eisenhower
Edmands Path Trail Sign
Edmands Path Trail Sign

We started down Edmands Path, which was barely discernible above treeline, and GPS was helpful in confirming we were on the correct route. Once below treeline, we switched to snowshoes to avoid sinking in the deep powder. It certainly felt like a fun adventure being off the beaten track and mostly breaking trail down the mountain (we were following a couple sets of post holes in the unconsolidated snow most of the way). Snowshoeing down reminded me of a poem I wrote a while ago to capture the feeling of winter hiking: Snow-Covered Wood.

Start of Edmands Path
Start of Edmands Path
Edmands Path Snowshoe Trail
Edmands Path Snowshoe Trail

The trail descended quickly and then flattened out to a pleasant stroll through the woods. Eventually, we emerged onto Mt. Clinton road and an empty snowbound parking lot after 2.9 miles on Edmands Path. The road is closed in winter, so we still had some walking ahead of us, but it is used by snowmobiles which pack down the snow and make for easier footing. After 1.6 miles on the graded road, we were back at the parking lot having completed two more 4,000 footers in winter!

Hiking Mt Clinton Road
Hiking Mt Clinton Road

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One Comment

  1. Terry Blackburne-Lee
    April 1, 2020

    I am just so amazed how gorgeous the scenery is on your winter treks. Many people don’t think about trekking in winter but I think it looks like more fun and more beautiful than during the summer. Keep posting. I love reading about your adventures.

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