For a second year, REI is supporting our work on Crawford Path, the oldest recreation trail in the White Mountain National Forest. This National Forest in New Hampshire draws millions of visitors from New England every year to hike, backpack, ski and snowboard and enjoy this green oasis of public lands. Spread across roughly 750,000 acres of New Hampshire and about 37,000 acres of Maine, the “Whites” are the epicenter of Northern New England’s burgeoning outdoor adventure scene.
As a hiking destination, the Whites are unparalleled, offering 1,200 miles of non-motorized trails including more than 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. But don’t be fooled by the relatively low elevation of these mountains (at least compared to Western peaks), as the trail builders of yore did not believe in switchbacks – be prepared to huff your way up steep, rocky trails to bald, windy and incredibly scenic summits. There are more than 48 peaks in the Whites above 4,000 feet and the Appalachian Mountain Club maintains a list of the folks who hike them all – both in summer and in New Hampshire’s notoriously cold, long winters.
Crawford Path was first established in 1819 and the work we do with our partners on this trail is a perfect way to commemorate its 200th anniversary. The trail ends on top of the region’s highest peak, Mount Washington. The 8.2 mile (one way) trail winds past Mount Pierce, Mount Eisenhower, Mount Franklin and Mount Monroe.
Crawford Path constitutes a significant portion of a “Presidential Traverse” through the Presidentials, a sub-range of mountains named after former Presidents. The section of Crawford Path between Mount Pierce and Mount Washington is a key part of the famous Appalachian Trail.
Crawford Path receives heavy recreational traffic due to its popularity. Unfortunately, it hasn’t received maintenance to adequately hold up to the high volume of use it receives, which has resulted in a degraded trail and adversely impacted habitat adjacent to the trail. In 2019, with REI’s support, the NFF will again work with local groups and the Forest Service to rehabilitate the trail and ensure that it will endure for another two-hundred years.