Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Loop Hike On Mount Moosilauke!

Jill and I picked a day last week and headed up north to hike. It has been way too long since the two of us have hiked together and it was nice to get back out on the trail with each other. Since it had been almost a year since Jill's last hike, she wanted to hit something big, but not too challenging. For that reason, I chose Mount Moosilauke with an ascent up Gorge Brook, Snapper, Carriage Road and Glencliff, and a descent down the full Gorge Brook Trail. We also made a detour up to the South Peak because I’ve heard good things about the views…and, if I ever decided to do Trailwrights, I can cross that one off!

We got to the trailhead a little later than we normally like to on the weekends because we needed to make sure Lylah was squared away with the babysitter (Grammy) for the long day. When we arrived at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, we were able to find parking close to the turnaround and trailheads, even though there were a lot of cars there. When walking to the trailhead, I did notice they removed the sign of the bus eating the car…I was bummed about this as I wanted to snap a picture of it.

Signage at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge

Bridge over Baker River near the beginning of the trail

I think the one thing I don’t like about this hike is the fact that you have to climb so far down into the ravine before you start heading up. Each time I hike this loop, I think to myself…”the hike back up to the parking area will be torture”…and it usually is!

 New sign on the Wales Carter Connection Trail

Once down in the ravine, the trail crosses Baker River and swings to the left through a few trail junctions. We continued up the Gorge Brook Trail for a short way and crossed the brook over a bridge. We quickly came to a “trail closure” sign which informed us that a portion of the Gorge Brook Trail had been closed due to flood damage. A detour for this closure had hikers follow the Snapper Trail (which we were planning on taking anyway) a quarter mile up, where the new connector to the Gorge Brook Trail entered on the right. This trail sign for this new trail was in the shape of a whale and was called “Wales Carter Connection”. We continued past this junction and headed up the Snapper Trail.

Green on the Snapper Trail, the photo doesn't do this view justice

Looking back on the Carriage Road to views to the South

The Snapper Trail is one of my favorites in the Whites. It’s hard to explain why since it doesn’t have any brooks or rivers, rock scrambles or views. It is pretty gradual and has good footing. One of the best ways I can describe it is that it’s very green. The vegetation on the trail just makes it pleasing to the eye.

The Snapper Trail went quickly and we came to the Carriage Road. It’s hard to believe that people got a team of horses up that road with a stagecoach full of passengers years back. It’s pretty rough and at times, has a decent grade. At just about any point on the trail, you can look behind you and get great views to the south and east. A bulk of the ascent is on this trail but it does go by quickly. A sure sign that you’re almost to the next trail junction is a large rock barrier across the Carriage Road which is there to hinder snowmobiles from passing any further.

Cool old sign on a gnarly tree 

Boulder Gate to Hinder Snow Machines

View toward Moosilauke's summit from South Peak

Cairns on South Peak

We finally came to the end of the Carriage Road which exited onto the Glencliff Trail. At this point, there’s a short spur trail which leads up to the South Peak. This peak is over 4,000 feet but does not maintain the minimum elevation drop/gain with the main peak to make it onto the 48/4K list. However, it does make it onto the Trailwrights list. The spur path was mostly flat but did climb over some larger rocks and boulders near the end. The South Peak gave some great 360 degree views and was well worth the short excursion.

View to the west from South Peak, over to what I think is Mount Clough

Once back on the Glencliff, Jill and I made very quick time to the main peak. It was about a mile more of travel, but was the fastest mile of the day. The ascent to the bald summit was as I remembered, being dramatic…and windy. We shared the summit that day as there were a lot of hikers up there. But it wasn’t so crowded that we couldn’t enjoy the views. I was also able to find the US C&GS Benchmark that I had missed on previous summit visits.

USC&GS Benchmark on the summit!

Bird on the summit!

Views to the northeast

After we had a well-earned lunch, we headed down the Gorge Brook Trail. The top portion was tough going down as there were some steep sections and I have a Posterior Tibial Tendon issue that has been acting up. The lower portion of the trail wasn’t bad at all and followed the Gorge Brook much of the way. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the worst part was hiking back up to the parking area from the Baker River!

The Franconia Ridge

 Foundation of an old building the Dartmouth Ski Team used to use to store possessions and stay warm.

 Part of the Summit House Foundation, still on the summit

View of the Ravine Lodge as we head out of the Ravine to the parking area

It was great to get out and tackle a 4K. We had great weather and great views. You really can’t ask for more than that in the Whites! Previous Mount Moosilauke trip report from 2010 here.


  1. That is a great loop Karl. I've done it a couple of times. Love the veiw from South Peak in the early morning. The last time I did the Glencliff trail I met 11 NB. It was nice to think of what they have already seen and what laid in wait for them. Good to see you on the trails again.


  2. Always enjoy account of yor hike. You write so well and pictures are great!

  3. That looks like an amazing hike. Where are those benchmarks placed just on random rocks?
    Beautiful place!

  4. Beautiful mountain pictures! I've only seen the souther half of the Appalachians I need to come up there! You should check out the Appalachians in the south http://smokymountainstraveltips.blogspot.com/