My son would like to get to the half way point on the list before winter, and because we have a vacation and school starting this month, we decided it would be a good idea to bag two in one trip. He decided that he’d like to hike Tom and Field. The trip wasn’t too long and there would be plenty of places for breaks and picture taking.
We parked at Saco Lake, headed across the street, over the railroad tracks and started into the woods on the Avalon Trail.
My son wanted to go to Tom first, and we decided to make a loop from Tom, over to Field, down to Avalon and then back to the car. This is opposite of the loop I did last month. When we came to the junction of the A-Z and Avalon Trails, we continued ascending up the A-Z Trail. The section from the trail junction to the Tom/Field col and Mt. Tom Spur is a steeper section, gaining about 1, 000 feet in about a mile. While it isn’t too bad, it is nice to know that there is an end to the steepness and another trail junction ahead.
Once at the Mt. Tom Spur, we turned right and headed for the summit of Tom. The spur trail is about .5 mile long and not difficult, with only a little elevation gain nearer to the end. We visited the summit cairn first, and looked into the Pemi Wilderness and then went over to the outlook side to look at the Presidentials on the other side of Crawford Notch.
We had some good views, but there was still a cloud layer over the summit of Washington. I was hoping that by the time we got to Field or Avalon that the views would be a little better, although at least the views were not as hazy as when I visited these summits last month.
After heading back to the A-Z trail, we picked up the Willey Range trail and headed toward the summit of Field. I’ve always liked this section of trail for somewhat open and mossy woods which are really vibrant in the middle of summer. This is where we also saw a good sized toad.
This section of the Willey Range trail is a gentle ascent, with just a short little rocky section right before the Field summit cairn. I told my son that as soon as he got to the top of the section, the summit cairn would be right in front of him, and sure enough, it was. We got some nice views down toward the Mt. Washington Hotel from the outlook point near the cairn and then we ate some lunch.
After lunch we headed down the trail to Mt. Avalon, where we were rewarded with the best views of the day. The summit of Avalon, although not as high as Tom or Field has a much better view of the Presidentials and Crawford Notch. By the time we got there the clouds had almost lifted off of Washington and we patiently waited and watched for the them to completely lift, allowing us some nice views and photos.
After a nice long break on Avalon, it was time for the final descent to car, but at only 1.8 miles, it wasn’t too bad! We also had our second wildlife sighting of the day, a small shrew. As we descended we decided to visit the Pearl and Beecher cascades, too, which was a nice way to end the hike.
We had a great day, and an easier hike than some we’ve taken recently because the elevation gain wasn’t as great, there were plenty of rest breaks and our packs were much lighter. Only three more peaks to Cameron’s half-way point – we’re thinking of Tecumseh, Waumbek and Moosilauke.