Hiking the Westernmost 4,000 footer in New Hampshire in the Winter
|The icy summit of Mt Moosilauke in January|
I'm on a roll! Just because its winter doesn't mean the peakbagging slows down! I really do love living only about an hour and a half from the White Mountains and Northern Appalachians of Maine. This day's ascent was the westernmost 4,000 footer of New Hampshire; the 4,802ft Mt Moosilauke. This perhaps one of the most climbed mountains in the state but nevertheless can be a challenge at any time of the year.
This mountains can be hiked from any cardinal direction. Its a steep trek any way you slice it. From the West, there's the 7.8 mile Glencliff Trail, from the South, there's the Gorge Brook Trail which is 7.9 miles and from the North there's the 7.6 mile Benton Trail. I thought the East approach was the most fun- the Beaver Brook Trail because it essentially paralleled a frozen waterfall. The Appalachian Trail traverses this peak. For northbound hikers, it is the beginning of one of the most challenging and scenic sections of the AT. Here is a map
|One of many frozen waterfalls on the Beaver Creek Trail|
Did I mention that Beaver Creek is steep? The 1.9 miles from the trailhead on highway 112 to the notch are relentless. Fortunately there's great views of the cascades which I imagine are just as glorious in the summer as they were in the winter. After about 1.5 miles of hiking, there's the Beaver Brook AT hut which serves as a nice resting point. In just another 0.4 miles, you'll come to the turnoff between Moosilauke and Mt Jim. Heading to the right (West) will take you to the summit.
This part was the highlight of the trail. Its about another 1.9 miles to the summit through a mostly alpine landscape. The Krummholz (stunted alpine trees) is a starkly different landscape than the hardwood forests below. Interestingly enough, the vegitation gets denser and denser until you get past the treeline. I find it interesting that the treeline in New Hampshire is abrupt, like a boarder. There's no transition between the Krummholz and the alpine zone.
|The alpine zone on Mt Blue|
As soon as you pop out of the trees, the summit of Moosilauke is just a short hike. This is, of course, the most scenic part of the hike and due to its isolation, this summit provides unique views of New Hampshire and Vermont. One can easily see the Green Mountains and Mt Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont. Franconia Ridge and the Kinsman's are very easily seen to the North. Mt Moosilauke is a unique part of the Whites due to its isolation and I can see why it is so often climbed.
|Treeline on Moosilauke|
|The Kinsmans and Franconia Ridge- a notoriously difficult section of the AT|
|More summit views from Moosilauke|
Usually I try not to climb the same mountain twice but I would love to do another route up Mt Moosilauke. Its a real challenge but worth it from any direction. The trails are well-marked and easy to follow, even during the winter.
The quests to climb New England's 50 Finest and 4,000-footers continues!
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