The Alpine Garden – Mt. Washington’s Treasure

The Alpine Garden is an area on the shoulder of Mt. Washington that is above the treeline (about a mile above sea level) and home to some of New Hampshire’s rarest plants.  There is a brief period in early June when the Garden is in bloom and that is what I was aiming to see when I visited on June 1st.

Mt. Washington's Alpine Garden (green area to the right) viewed from the south.

Mt. Washington’s Alpine Garden (green area to the right) viewed from the south.

Looking east towards the Alpine Garden (lower right) from the auto road.

Looking east towards the Alpine Garden (lower right) from the auto road.

The weather report said with temperatures in the high 50’s this could be the warmest day of the year so far, so I was doubly thrilled to see the sign saying visibility would be 95 miles at the summit!IMG_0653There were still skiers in Tuckerman Ravine and on a few other patches of snow but the Garden was thoroughly melted and rapidly warming for it’s brief burst of color.  I took the easy way up the mountain, driving up the auto road to within about a mile of the summit, then hiking down the Huntington Ravine Trail to the Alpine Garden Trail.

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I was probably there a week too early as just a few of the flowers were opening.  Still it was a treat to see the mountain come alive with color.  This trail is the best way to enjoy this area, being about a mile long and nearly flat.

Stunted trees in the Alpine Garden less than a foot tall but with trunks nearly 6 inches thick.

Stunted trees in the Alpine Garden less than a foot tall but with trunks nearly 6 inches thick.

One of the things that surprised me were the trees that spread out horizontally but which were no more than a foot in height.  Considering how slowly things grow here I can’t imagine how long it must have taken them to get as big as they were, with trunks easily 6 inches in diameter and more.IMG_0639It’s fortunate that the Alpine Garden Trail is not part of the Appalachian Trail.  Being less-frequented and a little off the beaten path ensures that this unique area will remain intact for many years to come.

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I made a loop of my hike by continuing past Tuckerman Ravine to Boott Spur and then following the Davis and Crawford Paths to the summit, then following the Nelson Crag back to the car.  What a great mountain and a great 5-mile hike!  Happy travels!

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4 responses to “The Alpine Garden – Mt. Washington’s Treasure

  1. Pingback: Squam’s Crawford-Ridgepole Trail … or What I Love About New Hampshire | The Park Explorer·

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