A couple of months ago, we intended to peak bag Mounts Willey, Field, and Tom to knock three more 4000 footers off our to-do list. It didn’t happen. We hiked up Willey and then over to Field, but by then it was too late in the day and the dark clouds churning in the sky told us to not push our luck, so Tom remained free of our bootprints. There was also the little issue of starting on the more difficult side, on the most difficult trail. I hate leaving things unfinished, so this past weekend, when we finally got the time to hike, we returned to Crawford Notch State Park to conquer Mount Tom.
The trail for Mount Tom, which is also the MUCH easier trail to take if you want to peak bag Tom, Field and Willey, can be found at the Crawford Depot Station, a tiny yellow building where the train stops in Crawford off of 302. The beginning of the Avalon trail is home to several trailheads, which makes it a great path for people watching. Men in loafers, women carrying purses, tourists not accustomed to traveling far from their car – these are not the type of characters you usually see on a trail leading up a mountain. Listening to people complain about the dirt, the rocks, the bugs, the trees – basically everything that makes a wooded mountain trail a wooded mountain trail – makes for some amusing eavesdropping.
The Avalon leads to the A-Z trail which will take you to the Mount Tom spur. At 4052 feet, Tom was one of the easiest 4000 footers I’ve hiked to date. There are several shallow river crossings that can easily be traversed without getting wet. The trail is almost entirely wooded, leading to lovely, if limited, views. The true summit is marked by a stone cairn and can be found by taking the path to the left. We took our time, had a snack break, and were trapped several times behind slow moving groups of sightseers, and still made the hike in less than four hours. I would recommend this hike to those looking for an easy introduction to the White Mountains.