A hiker on the summit of Mt. Eisenhower, March 2011.
Mt. Eisenhower is a mountain in the southern Presidential Range, often hiked in combination with Mt. Pierce and Mt. Jackson. The summit provides outstanding views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Washington, as well as the surrounding White Mountains. It makes an excellent winter hike, as it has outstanding views and above-treeline scenery, yet has minimal danger of falling down a ravine and doesn't require an ice axe.
Take 91 North from Hanover, get onto 93 South near St. Johnsbury. Take exit 40 and get on 302-E. The trailhead will be on your left after about 19 miles (there's a large parking lot with a sign indicating that you're near the Crawford Path). The AMC Highland Center is on the right just past the trailhead and provides a good place to turn around if you miss the trailhead.
Start on the Crawford Path out of the parking lot - it starts just to the right of a few toilets at the edge of the lot. After 0.4 miles, you'll see a spur trail to for Gibbs Falls - it's only a 30 second walk to a pretty sweet waterfall, so definitely worth a look. You'll then climb steadily up a moderate slope for 1.3 miles to the junction with the Mizpah Cutoff - bear left here to stay on the Crawford Path, or go right to check out the Mizpah Spring AMC Hut. From the hut, take a left on the Webster Cliff trail to get to the summit of Mt. Pierce. It's about 1.5 miles to the summit of Pierce, either way you go.
From Pierce you'll be able to see Mt. Eisenhower to the north. Get back on the Crawford Path and head towards Eisenhower - it's about 1.5 miles to the summit, with fantastic views for much of the way. You'll be somewhat exposed to the wind the whole way (especially in the winter when a few feet of snow can put your heads above the treetops), so be sure to put on some more layers before you begin the hike through the saddle. Enjoy the views from Eisenhower, then head back the way you came.
If you're feeling ambitious, you can also combine this hike with a trip to Mt. Jackson.
Advice & Anecdotes
This is a great trip to run in the winter! The saddle between Pierce and Eisenhower has outstanding views of the surrounding White Mountains and gorgeous above-treeline scenery - frosted evergreens, rime ice, rocky crags, etc. Yet there's no technical climbing, you won't need an ice axe, and there aren't any places where you're in danger of falling down a ravine (which means you actually get to enjoy those great views!).
Still, crampons and/or microspikes are definitely required - the final ascent of Eisenhower is fairly steep, and there will likely be a lot of ice on Eisenhower and in the col between the two peaks. You'll also want to have goggles and face protection (balaclavas/scarves/face masks) for all your trippees - a long above-treeline traverse is a great way to get frostbite on any exposed skin!
Group: 6. Georgi Klissurski (Heeler), Charlie Governali (Co-leader). Trippees: Irvin Gomez, Eric Waskowicz, Reed Wommack, Yuxiang Zhou.
Weather: Rainy, overcast, light breeze. Visibility only a couple hundred feet.
Route: From trailhead of Edmands Path on Mt. Clinton Road (paved, summer only), to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower (via Edmands Path and then Crawford Path).
Time: 2 hrs ascending.
Notes: The trail was in good condition, even after Hurricane Irene. There were wood bridges, and crossing the brooks was not a problem. The trail crosses a few streams (and one of them is a small waterfall!), so crossing might be a little slippery in these areas. This is a trip with great views of the Presidential Range and the White Mountains as a whole (weather permitting), and the exposed alpine area around the summit is fascinating with its mosses, flowers, and occasional bogs. You might run into singing birds and lots of hikers.