Summer Solstice Hike in the Willey Range

View from Mt. Avalon.

I had Friday and Saturday (summer solstice) off this week so I decided to go have a camping adventure. Friday morning I ventured off to Crawford Notch where I planned to summit Mt. Avalon, Mt. Field, and Mt. Willey and end my day at Ethan Pond Campsite and Shelter. I hit the trail by 10:30am, excited to summit three mountains I had never explored before. In addition to the excitement of new territory, it was also the christening trip of my new backpack, a Gregory cairn 58; which I am happy to report did its job wonderfully as all good backpacks should. I started out on the Avalon Trail, which took me all the way to the summit of Mt. Field. The trail was well maintained with no downed trees across the path and only a few muddy places. It was steep and rocky in places but I managed to make it to the summit of Mt. Avalon in good time where I came upon a school group eating lunch. I couldn't help but laugh and also agree with their teacher's comment that other students where in classrooms taking exams, but they were lucky enough to be on top of a mountain.

Looking back on Mt. Avalon on the trail to Mt. Willey.
Ladders on the Willey Range Trail coming down Mt. Willey.
As we all sat taking in the sweeping landscape of Crawford Notch and the Presidentials in the distance I certainly felt lucky. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. After a snack, I continued on to Mt. Field where I also stopped to take in the view. Mt. Field's summit is actually in a circle of trees but there was a look out from which I could see the Mount Washington Hotel and its bright red roofs. From Mt. Field I took the Willey Ridge Trail to Mt. Willey. The trail was narrow and branches constantly tickled my sides and arms. It was along this trail that I saw a beautiful Luna Moth as well as beautiful views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness to my right. Other than the trail being narrow, it was well maintained and a steady descent down Mt. Field then a slight ascent up Mt. Willey. From the summit of Willey down to Ethan Pond Trail junction was a different story. The trail went steeply down often using ladders.
View of the Pemigewasset Wilderness from the Wiley Range Trail.

Luna Moth on the Willey Range Trail.
The ladders were scary at first but I learned to appreciate them since they helped me go down more quickly and safely. After about a mile of hiking down, the trail leveled out a little more and I was able to hike very quickly to the Ethan Pond Trail. The last mile to Ethan Pond Shelter on the Ethan Pond Trail was very quick as well. It was flat often using bog bridges to surpass marshier areas of the trail. When I arrived at the campsite I was actually able to help Dylan, the caretaker, open up the site for the summer. It was really exciting actually being able to get an inside view of how the caretakers live out in the mountains for the summer. I stayed up late talking to the wonderful people I met at the campsite and woke up early, excited for my summer solstice hike. I left the campsite by 7:30am and hiked down the Ethan Pond Trail to the Arethusa Ripley Falls Trail to Arethusa Falls, the tallest water fall in New Hampshire (174ft). The hike was quick with both ups and downs and I was able to make it to the falls by 10am. When I arrived it was warm and sunny. The falls were magnificent. I hiked right up to where the water cascaded down and let it pour over me. I napped for a while just taking in the sun and cool mist from the falls. On my way out via Arethusa Falls Trail and the Bemis Brook loop, I swam in Fawn Pool, a little pool in Bemis Brook. It was extremely chilling but refreshing. It was my first mountain stream plunge of the season and it felt only right for me to do it on solstice. Once to the road I hitchhiked back to my car at the Highland Center bringing my expedition full circle. It was a wonderful solo hike to celebrate the coming of summer. I can't wait to get out there again this weekend. Hopefully the skies will clear! Until then, Happy Trails!
My tent site at Ethan Pond.
Arethusa Falls.

For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk. We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm. Be sure to check weather conditions before you come and call us here with any questions! We'll see you up here!

Happy Adventures!

Backcountry Information Specialist
Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center

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