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Galehead Hut (elevation 3,800 feet) is in the col between Galehead and South Twin, with views to the south over the vast Pemigewasset Wilderness. With its strategic location at the junction of the Garfield and Twin ridges it can be used for a great variety of trips. Two day trips can include, in addition to Galehead Mountain, Mount Garfield or one or both Twins, or possibly all three peaks. The hut can also be used as a "base camp" for a three day (two night) trip to the Bonds. It is also often combined with Greenleaf and/or Zealand Falls huts for a traverse of the northern rim of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

The AMC web site has a page on the Galehead Hut, with information on the hut, season of operation and rates. Here I give hiking information that supplements what they offer, describing the most frequently used access routes (with distances, elevation gains and book time), and some of the trips that can utilize the hut, including hut to hut trips.

Getting to Galehead Hut and Back

Gale River and Garfield Ridge Trails

The usual route to the hut is by the Gale River Trail (ow: 4.6 miles; 2,200 feet, 3:25). For the first three miles the trail follows the North Branch of the Gale River, crossing it on a bridge at 1.7 miles and recrossing it, on stepping stones (may be difficult at high water) at 2.5 miles. About a half mile beyond the second crossing the trail steepens, and there is a very steep section going up rock steps to the junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail. That trail leads to the hut in a little over half a mile. The return trip is downhill all the way (ow: 4.6 miles; 2:20).

Garfield and Garfield Ridge Trails

For peakbaggers intent on bagging Mount Garfield on a Galehead Hut trip can go up the Mount Garfield Trail to Mount Garfield, then follow the Garfield Ridge Trail to the hut (ow: 8.1 miles; 3,700 feet; 5:55). The Mount Garfield Trail has easy grades all the way, and the lower part goes through very pleasant open hardwoods. The Garfield Ridge Trail is very rough and has steep sections. The reverse trip involves a steep climb up to Mount Garfield (ow: 8.1 miles; 1,400 feet; 4:45).

North Twin and Twinway Trails

Like all trails approaching the northern rim of the Pemi from Rt 3, the North Twin Trail starts out with gentle grades through open hardwoods (ow: 6.4 miles; 3,450 feet; 4:55). It follows the Little River for about two miles, crossing it three times (crossings may be difficult at high water). Soon after the last crossing the trail becomes steeper, and eventually reaches the summit of North Twin. While North Twin is wooded there are two good outlooks in the summit area. The ridge between the two peaks is quite gentle, and South Twin has excellent 360° views. The return trip involves a very steep climb from the hut to the summit of South Twin (ow: 6.4 miles, 1,450 feet; 3:55).

Routes to Galehead Hut and Back
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Up Gale River Trail 4.6 2,200 3:25
Up Garfield Trail 8.1 3,700 5:55
Up North Twin Trail 6.4 3,450 4:55
Down Gale River Trail 4.6 0 2:20
Down Garfield Trail 8.1 1,400 4:45
Down North Twin Trail 6.4 1,450 3:55

Hikes from Galehead Hut

Peakbaggers with two cars may want to go up one trail and down another, to bag multiple peaks. An easy way would be to go up the Gale River Trail the first day, bagging Galehead Mountain later that day. Next day descend either over Mount Garfield or over the Twins. A more ambitious approach would be to go over Garfield on the way up, and over the Twins on the way down (or vice versa).

Below I describe trips suitable for those with only one car. I assume a one night stay at the hut, except for the Bonds trip, where I assume that most people will want to stay at the hut both before and after the trip.

Galehead Mountain

The Frost Trail starts near the hut, and goes to the viewless summit at a moderate grade (rt: 1.0 mile; 250 feet; 0:40). Galehead is the kind of summit only a peakbagger would visit, a cairn surrounded by trees with only a moderately good outlook on the way up!

South Twin

A short but very steep climb rewarded with some of the best views in the Whites (rt: 1.6 miles; 1,150 feet; 1:20). South Twin in the most northerly of a series of summits stretching over Guyot, Bond and Bondcliff with 360° views into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Peakbaggers with only one car may want to lengthen the trip to include North Twin (rt: 3.2 miles; 1,900 feet; 2:30), those with two cars may prefer to do a loop.

Mount Garfield

Peakbaggers with only one car can make a side trip on the Garfield Ridge Trail to the summit of Mount Garfield, preferably on the way down. The trail is steep and rocky (rt: 5.0 miles; 1,700 feet; 3:20). It is probably easier, after reaching the summit of Mount Garfield, to return by the Mount Garfield Trail and walk along the road to your car.

The Bonds

This is a spectacular trip in good weather, going up the Twinway from the hut to S. Twin, then down over Guyot to either Bond and West Bond, or over all three. The climb up to S. Twin from the hut is very steep, the climb back from Guyot is much easier. The round trip to Bond and West Bond is 9.2 miles with 2,950 feet of elevation gain, book time 6:05, while adding Bondcliff makes it 11.6 miles with 3,600 feet of elevation gain with a book time of 7:35.

Hikes From Galehead Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Galehead Mountain 1.0 250 0:40
South Twin 1.6 1,150 1:20
North and South Twin 3.2 1,900 2:30
Side Trip to Mount Garfield 5:00 1,700 3:20
Bond and West Bond 9.2 2,950 6:05
Three Bonds 11.6 3,600 7:35

Routes to Neighboring Huts

Routes to Greenleaf Hut

There is only one way of going from Galehead Hut to Greenleaf Hut. Take the Garfield Ridge Trail, with its many ups and downs, over Mount Garfield (and many smaller bumps) to the summit of Mount Lafayette, then take the Greenleaf Trail down to the hut (ow: 7.7 miles; 3,450 feet; 5:50). The Garfield Ridge Trail is notorious for being steep and rocky, and to be more difficult than the numbers might indicate.

The last mile of the Garfield Ridge Trail as well as the entire mile on the Greenleaf Trail are above treeline, with excellent views but great exposure to the weather.

Routes to Zealand Hut

The Twinway goes from Galehead Hut to Zealand Hut (ow: 7.0 miles; 1,750 feet; 4:25). After a very steep climb to the summit of South Twin it goes mostly downhill, with a minimal climb up to the summit of Guyot, and a short but steep climb up to Zealand Mountain. There are 360° views from the summits of South Twin and Guyot, and excellent, though partial, views from Zeacliff.

Peakbaggers will get both South Twin and Zealand Mountain this way. They can add North Twin for an additional 2.6 miles and 750 feet. Alternately, they can swing to the south and do West Bond and Bond, adding 3.6 miles and 1,000 feet (including a steep climb up Bond!). The really motivated can add Bondcliff to the trip, for a total of 13 miles and 3,400 feet, with a book time of 8:10.

From Galehead Hut to Neighboring Huts
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
To Greenleaf Hut 7.7 3,450 5:50
To Zealand Hut, Direct 7.0 1,750 4:25
To Zealand Hut, add N. Twin 9.6 2,500 6:00
To Zealand, add two Bonds 10.6 2,750 6:40
To Zealand, add three Bonds 13.0 3,400 8:10