We really wanted to get in our first Moosilauke hike this fall but the recent weather combined with our schedules made it look like it might be waiting for next year. When we saw the forecast for this week and I realized that I could squeeze out another vacation day things started looking up! This was our seventh trip to NH this year (plus one to VT and one to ME) and day trips for hikes are now starting to feel normal. We hit the road in RI at 4:30 this morning and had smooth sailing all the way up (nice beating the Boston morning rush). We were at Ravine Lodge a bit before 8:00 and ready to hit the trail.
It was a frosty, clear morning with the temp at about 29 when we started. We headed up the Gorge Brook trail and quickly warmed up in the sun filtering through the trees. Within 1/2 hour I was down to my last layer - just a perfect fall day for hiking. The trails were in perfect shape - dry with just a few muddy spots that were easily avoided and no ice or snow. The Gorge Trail was a beautiful walk in the woods following the brook and wandering back and forth across it through the pine forest. Before we knew it we were heading into the alpine zone and on toward the summit. The skies were clear with just a few clouds drifting around and barely a hint of breeze. The views were amazing with all the White Mountains layed out to the east and the Green Mountains in VT to the west. Definitely one of the best 360 panoramas we've ever seen. We hung out on the summit for quite a while wandered out north on the summit ridge to check out the rest of the views.
We headed down the Carriage Road intending to stop at the South Peak before heading down. When we got to the Glencliff junction we saw two paths heading off in parallel with no markers. Couldn't fingure out what that second trail was. After heading another 1/4 mile down the Carriage Road we realized that the second path was the South Peak spur. Duh! Oh well, another time. The walk down the Carriage Road and Snapper Trail were nice, fast and easy. The Moosilauke trails almost don't feel like being in the White Mountains (there just aren't enough rocks and roots ). We were back at the lodge a little after 1:00. This hike just did't feel like it was 7.5 miles and 2,600ft. Maybe because the trails are so great or maybe because every step of this route is so enjoyable. This is definitely one of the nicest hikes we've ever done. We also had the mountain to ourselves today - we didn't see a single soul the whole day (other than a couple of ravens and a very agitated red squirrel that was sure we were invading his space).
I had expected to pay the price for a weekday trip to NH with rush hour Boston traffic on the way home but we lucked out again. Since we finished so early we beat rush hour and hit nothing all the way home. We were back in our driveway at 5:00 after another perfect day in the Whites. One thing for sure is that we'll be back to Moosilauke again. And who knows, maybe there's still a fall hike or two left this year (not to mention winter...)
First views from Gorge Brook Trail
Starting up the summit ridge
Still frosty on top
Summit marker in view
At the top
Nat heading down the Carriage Road toward South Peak
Views west to the Green Mountains (Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield in the distance)
Gorge Brook and bridge to Ravine Lodge
Complete photo album here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman4...osilaukeNov09#