Davis Path, White Mountains

Crawford Notch State Park - Bemis Bridge, which crosses the Saco River along Davis Path in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.
Bemis Bridge – Crawford Notch, New Hampshire

Davis Path, White Mountains – Davis Path, completed in 1845 by Nathaniel Davis, son-in-law of Abel and Hannah Crawford, was the third and longest bridle path built to the summit of Mount Washington. The path was in use until about 1853-1854, and then it was neglected and became unusable. In 1910, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s legendary Trail-builder Warren W. Hart (AMC’s councilor of improvements from 1908-1910), with the help of volunteers, re-opened it as a footpath. Today, the path is just over 14 miles long with most of it being within the Presidential Range – Dry River Wilderness.

The Davis Path begins in Crawford Notch, near the Notchland Inn, and crosses the Saco River by use of the 168 foot long Bemis Bridge (above). The Bemis Bridge, named after Samuel A. Bemis, is considered to be an asymmetrical cable stay bridge, and is also the start of the 165 mile long Cohos Trail.

Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness - Newly built stone steps along the Davis Path during the summer months in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This is an example of how a professional AMC trail crew does low impact stone work.
Stonework – Davis Path, White Mountains

In 2012, I documented some of the best stonework I have ever seen in the White Mountains along Davis Path. A professional AMC Trail crew, with the help of volunteers, worked on a large project repairing heavy erosion damage along a section of the trail. The care and time that has been put into repairing the trail is impressive. If you want to see what professional quality stonework should look like, I recommend hiking this trail. You can see more images of the stonework here.

Scenic views along the Davis Path in the  White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.
Scenic view – Davis Path, White Mountains

The views along Davis Path are some of the best in the New Hampshire White Mountains. And on bluebird days, hikers can enjoy endless views from the ledges on Mount Crawford.

Crawford Notch from the summit of Mount Crawford in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. The Maine Central railroad travels through this notch.
Crawford Notch from Mount Crawford, White Mountains

For hikers who plan on following Davis Path all the way to Mount Washington, make sure you visit Stairs Mountain, Mount Isolation and Boott Spur for more awe inspiring views. Even though the views are excellent from Mt. Isolation the alpine flora always catches my eye.

Alpine Tundra System  - Labrador Tea-Ledum groenlandicum- during the summer months on Mount Isolation  in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This plant can be found on the rocky slopes of the alpine zone.
Labrador Tea – Mt Isolation, White Mountains

For the backcountry photographer, Davis Path is the kind of trail you can spend days on creating imagery, and the best approach maybe a 2-3 day photo excursion to properly document the entire trail. The only drawback is water sources are hard to find, and during the wet season some sections of trail are real muddy. Personally, I have found the two day excursion more enjoyable than doing it all in one day.

A hiker on Davis Path with Mount Washington in the background during the summer months. Located in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Mt Washington – Davis Path, White Mountains

No matter if you’re a backcountry camper looking for serenity or a day hiker just out exploring the mountains, Davis Path should satisfy your needs. Some of the rock cairns along the trail are pretty impressive. The care taken to build them is obvious and shows true craftsmanship.

A hiker on Davis Path with Mount Washington in the background during the summer months. Located in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Mt Washington – Davis Path, White Mountains

One of grandest views (above) of Mount Washington is from along Davis Path. This breathtaking view never gets old. A day on Davis Path reminds me as to why land conservation is so important. The effort being put forth to conserve this trail is special.

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more images from along the Davis Path here.

Happy image making..


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“Reports of the Councilors for the Year 1912 Improvements by Harry W. Tyler.” Appalachia Journal, Volume XIII, No. 1, May 1913, p. 90.

Sweetser, Moses Foster, and Nelson, John. A Guide to the White Mountains. Boston, MA, and New York, NH: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1918.

“The Davis Path Reopened by William W. Hart.” Appalachia, Volume XII, No. 3, July 1911, p. 262.

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer, writer, and author who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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