Crawford Path, White Mountains

Sign in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA near the Highland Center. Crawford Path is the oldest continuously used mountain trail in America.
Crawford Path Sign – White Mountains, New Hampshire

Crawford Path, White Mountains – Crawford Path, located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is the oldest continuously-used mountain trail in America. And for a period of time, it was used as a horse trail to Mt Washington. This eight and half mile historic path came to be in 1819 when Abel Crawford and his son, Ethan Allen, began building a trail to the summit of Mt Pierce, formerly Mt Clinton. Once north of Mt Pierce, the Crawford Path follows the famed Appalachian Trail corridor to the summit of Mt Washington.

The entire eight and a half miles of Crawford Path is a photographer's delight. Landscape photographers will love the bold mountain scenes, while macro photographers will enjoy the variety of alpine flowers along the trail. If a photographer plans accordingly, he or she can spend a full day shooting along this historic path.

An old dam on Gibbs Brook in the New Hampshire White Mountains during the spring months. This dam, rebuilt in the 1960s, and piping system (out of sight) supplied water to the old Crawford House. The Crawford House was located where the AMC Highland Center is today. Crawford Path, the oldest continuously used mountain trail in America, passes by this dam.
Gibbs Brook Dam – Crawford Path, New Hampshire

Gibbs Brook, named for J.L Gibbs, an earlier proprietor of the Crawford House, travels on the side of Crawford Path. This brook supplied water to the Crawford House. And just above where the Crawford Connector crosses Gibbs Brook, at its junction with Crawford Path, the abandoned dam (above) can still be seen in the brook. The Crawford House was a grand resort that burned down in November 1977. Today, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center occupies the site of the Crawford House.

Gibbs Brook Scenic Area - Gibbs Falls which is located along Gibbs Brook. These falls can be found just off the Crawford Path in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Gibbs Falls – Crawford Path, New Hampshire

For photographers, Gibbs Falls, located just off Crawford Path, will be of interest. During the dry months, this waterfall is not very picturesque, but after heavy rains and during spring snow-melt it looks excellent. Gibbs Falls is only about .5 mile up Crawford Path from the Crawford Connector parking lot on Mt. Clinton Road so you can reach them rather quickly if this is your only destination.

Appalachian Trail - Mount Washington during the late months of summer in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Alpine Zone – Crawford Path, New Hampshire

History books suggest Crawford Path has been rerouted to some degree since the 1800s. Regardless of reroutes, after years of continuous use, you would think that the portion of Crawford Path in the alpine zone would be nothing more than a five-foot deep trench. It’s not a five-foot deep trench yet. But in the 21st-century, heavy hiker traffic is creating serious erosion issues along this historic path.

Appalachian Trail - Mount Washington during the late months of summer in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Lakes of the Clouds- Crawford Path, New Hampshire

Between Mount Monroe and Mount Washington are two tarns, Lakes of the Clouds. In the early years, Lakes of the Clouds was called “Washington’s Punch Bowl”.  And the larger tarn was called “Blue Pond” at one time. As you can see in the above photo, the view is incredible from this spot.

A hiker on the Appalachian Trail in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, New Hampshire during the winter months. Mount Monroe is in the background.
Winter – Crawford Path, New Hampshire

While some trails in the White Mountains see little foot traffic during the winter season, Crawford Path sees use year around. And during the winter season, the landscape of the Presidential Range is transformed into a winter wonderland.

Appalachian Trail - Lakes of the Clouds from the summit of Mount Washington in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, New Hampshire during the summer months.
Crawford Path – Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire

One of the best views (above) of this scenic path is from the summit of Mt Washington. From this view point. you can see Lakes of the Clouds and the outline of Crawford Path twisting through the alpine landscape. I look at the above image and am fascinated by the fact that Crawford Path has been in use since the 1800s.

All of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can see more images of this historic path here.

Happy image making..


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2 Responses to “Crawford Path, White Mountains”

  1. Brian Rogers

    Hi Erin,

         Great photo work you have.

         I wondered if you could answer a history question regarding the lower portion of the Crawford Path.  I believe it is below Gibbs Falls.  When hiking there yesterday there seems to be the remains of an old water reservoir…a small concrete damn (which is now breached)…an old 6" iron pipe that goes underground just a short ways downstream of the old damn.  Do you know what this damn and watersource was used for and how long ago it was discontinued ?

          It sounds like you know all the twists and turns of this trail.  My partner and I really enjoyed all the wonderfully scenic photo opps of the greenery.  It almost seemed like we were hiking in the rain forests for all the ferns, mushrooms and other water loving plants.  When the late afternoon sun filtered through the trees and illuminated all the greens, it was amazing.   Keeps shooting.



    • Erin Paul Donovan

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your comments. Crawford Path is beautiful!

      I believe that dam and piping system supplied water to the old Crawford House. The Crawford House was located where the AMC Highland Center is today. And the dam may have also been the site of the Gibbs Brook Gaging Station (part of the 1911-1912 U.S. Geological watershed survey).

      Hope this helps


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