View Full Version : Falling Waters Trail to Galehead Hut

06-02-2005, 05:34 PM
I,m leaving tomorrow morning for Galehead Hut, starting at the Old Bridal Path trail head going up Falling Waters trail and across Franconia and Garfield ridge. How much time should it take following this route? I've done the Franconia ridge loop a number of times but I have never done the Garfield Ridge trail. Also, am I correct in assuming there is no charge for parking at the Old Bridal Path trail head sence it is in Franconia Nothch State park, not in the National fortest? Final question, are the black flys out in the Whites yet? or have they been delayed because of the cold spring?

Papa Bear
06-02-2005, 05:54 PM
I always found the Garfield Ridge Trail to be harder than I thought it would be, even after remembering it would be harder than I thought. :D For some reason it's milage and elevation gain numbers don't do it justice. I've hiked from Greenleaf Hut to Galehead hut a number of times. Last time we started at 8:30 AM and got to Galehead at 3:30. That's 7 hours for 7.7 miles, so go figure.

I've also done the OBP to Greenleaf Hut several times, typically around 2 hours. This is shorter and easier than you route so if the weather doesn't look good consider this alternative.

So start early and rest on the summits. Enjoy the views. Pray for sunny skies.

06-02-2005, 05:55 PM
Haven't been there yet this year, but I see you are leaving in the morning so I thought I'd post. Time, of course, depends greatly on your speed and tolerance for ups and downs. There are many on this section, and I would give it a good long day. Many who do the Greenleaf to Galehead hut section find it the most tiring of all the hut-to-hut sections, because between Lafayette and Galehead the trail is pretty rough. Tomorrow is supposed to be a great day, though, so you should have a good time. Arrive early, bring about 25 gallons of water (only a small exaggeration :) ) or pop down to Greenleaf to tank up part way, and take your time. If you have the White Mountain Guide and know how fast you hike compared to book time, that will giuve you a rough estimate, but then I'd add about an hour to your result. You may also encounter a small amount of residual snow.

You are right, parking is free at that trailhead, lock valuables in trunk or bring with you. And the flies are likely to be out below 4000 ft- yes they were late, but now out in force. But above treeline, probably not so much. Enjoy!

David Metsky
06-02-2005, 06:19 PM
I went from Greenleaf to Garfield and back this weekend, the snow will still be a factor though a small one. The trip from North Lafayette to Galehead is much rougher than it looks on the map, it takes more out of you than the distance would suggest. And you'll be dealing with snow for a good chunk of the ridge.

OBP will definately save you some time and effort, it's worth considering if you have any doubts. It'll be a long day either way. And yes, parking in the OBP lot is free (for now, it might change this summer).


06-02-2005, 06:24 PM
I,m leaving tomorrow morning for Galehead Hut, starting at the Old Bridal Path trailbtw, not to criticize or anything but for the record it's the Old Bridle Path. Lots of people seem to use the "alternate" spelling, which I prefer if only for the imagery.

06-02-2005, 08:37 PM
I would second the comments on the difficulty of Garfield Ridge Trail. last summer, on a rather warm day, I went up to Garfield, then across to Galehead Hut and was going to head up to South Twin as well. I made it to the summit of Garfield in about 2 hours. But the hike across the ridge pretty much wiped me out and my water supply. I refilled at the hut and then gave up for the day and went down Gale River Trail and down the road back to the car.

It won't be as warm on Saturday as that day was, but it will probably feel like it, given the weather lately. And I would expect you'll find a decent amount of snow and ice, too.

having said all that, its still a nice hike and there should be lots of good views

06-03-2005, 08:52 AM
I did your trip last summer with a cousin who was thru-hiking the AT. I ascended Falling Waters around 8:00am while he headed up Liberty Springs and we met at Little Haystack, although he arrived an hour and a half before me. We then both headed towards Garfield with our final destination hoping to be the Guyot tentsite. Long story short, we arrived at Gailhead Hut around 5:00pm and I was a sniveling puddle of humanity. After some discussion and a little crying, we decided to stay at Gailhead for the night.

Although I am an above average hiker and can hike a good distance, trying to keep up with my thru-hiking cousin took ever ounce of energy I had. If you do this trip, take your time and make sure you drink and eat enough to maintain your strength. And go at your own pace and not someone else’s.

To give you some idea of the difference between our hiking speeds, we both left Gailhead around 5:00am the next morning. I arrived at my car, which was parked at the Ethan Pond Trailhead on Rt 302, around 3:00pm. My cousin arrived at Lakes in the Clouds around 5:20pm.

06-03-2005, 10:06 AM
The word "relentless" keeps ringing a bell in my mind every time Garfield Ridge comes up. The reason I found it so ... well, let me put it this way, I think it was the only trail that ever p***ed me off and I don't p*** off easily ... the reason was the size of the rocks in the trail were too small to scramble and too big to get up any rhythym in our pace. The trail is not that long, just #&@*$#@ relentless.

Jim lombard
06-03-2005, 11:30 AM
Yes it is relentless (http://www.seekingthepeakforkenya.com/garfieldridge.html)

06-03-2005, 04:52 PM
btw, not to criticize or anything but for the record it's the Old Bridle Path. Lots of people seem to use the "alternate" spelling, which I prefer if only for the imagery.
It used to be that on the campground side of the culvert under I-93, there were 2 trail signs, one with each spelling. My photo did not come out, perhaps someone else did better.

Dr. Dasypodidae
06-03-2005, 08:00 PM
I agree with everyone about the difficulty of Garfield Ridge Trail, as whenever I hike the Pemi Horseshoe Loop, in either direction, I find the GRT harder than anything on Franconia Ridge or the Bondcliff Trail. Thank goodness that Galehead Hut is now open as a primo water stop.

06-04-2005, 02:36 PM
In my younger days, when I could shave at least a third off the book time of just about any hike, Garfield Ridge was always the exception. From Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut, with a 25-lb pack, always takes me 7 hours. The book's way too optimistic, in my opinion!