Trail: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail > Mt. Monroe Loop > Crawford Path (Appalachian Trail) > Great Gulf Trail > Jewell Trail
Hours: 5 hiking, 6 total
October 6, 2018
Mt. Monroe (5,371’) is the fourth tallest 4,000-footer and is usually hiked with Mt. Washington (6,289’) which as you probably know is the tallest mountain in the Northeast! You can hike most of the Presidentials with these mountains if you have someone picking you up at the end or have two cars. We met plenty of people who were hiking 4 or 5 of the Presidentials!
NOTE: This is a DIFFICULT hike. The total distance is over 10 miles, and you gain about 4,000 feet of elevation. Mt. Monroe, however, is one of the most beautiful hikes, in my opinion, so it helps distract your mind from the constant elevation gain. Also, as a heads up, the parking lot is on the same road as the Cog Railroad, so the first part of this hike is not quiet or peaceful. We enjoy the peacefulness of nature, so this was a bummer, but the trail heads away from the train eventually.
Alex and I hiked Mt. Monroe and Mt. Washington on a B-E-A-Utiful Saturday. We were camping after our hike, so it was nice to know we could take our time since we weren’t driving two hours home after. Also, the drive up to the mountains was SO GORGEOUS!! Talk about peak foliage! We knew we were in for an awesome hike, and little did I know, this hike would forever hold a special place in my heart.
We began our hike at 9:00 AM on a crisp October morning with about a million other people haha. Because it was peak foliage, there were so many people hiking. We also met a park ranger before starting the hike who advised the higher summits may have winds up to 60 MPH! Crazzzy.
The first mile of this hike was fairly flat, so it was a nice warm-up for what was to come. The second mile followed along a brook that eventually became the Ammonoosuc River and ascended gradually. We then came to the first of many waterfalls on this hike! The Gem Pool was a beautiful spot with a waterfall cascading into a small pool of water.
After taking in the beauty of this spot, it was time to CLIMB! This was where the real ascent began. Luckily, the trail consisted of boulder stairs, so it made for an “easier” ascent. After hiking a short while, we came across the gorge. This was one of the most beautiful parts of the trail. There was a waterfall running down the side of the mountain, and there was a clearing, so we were rewarded with beautiful views! We took a small snack break here while soaking in the beauty of this trail.
Once snack time was over, it was time to continue the climb! Don’t you worry though, the trail only got steeper haha! This was the toughest part of the hike, but the trail was absolutely beautiful, so it helped distract us. After about a mile, we arrived at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. We, unfortunately, were following another couple who happened to take a wrong turn, so we were not on the correct path. And neither were the 10 other people following us lol. But that’s okay! We were good sports about it, and we were above the treeline, so it was hard to get lost. I’m still not sure how we missed the signs!
At this point, our bodies were tired, and we just wanted to get to the summit. We saw Mt. Monroe’s summit to our right and the STEEP incline we had left. It was only 0.4 miles to the summit from here, but it was steep. We moved our butts up the last bit of the trail and were rewarded with beautiful foliage views!
We arrived at Mt. Monroe’s summit around 11:00 AM, so we made great time! We originally were only going to hike Mt. Monroe, but one of the hikers we met recommended hiking up to Mt. Washington and down the Jewell Trail since it’s less steep than the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail was also very wet, so it would have been sketchy going down. We decided to take the woman’s advice and hike on over! I mean, why not?? Mt. Washington was only 1.4 miles from Mt. Monroe!
After eating our lunch and hanging at the summit, we decided at 11:45 AM it was time to start the trek over to the tallest mountain in the Northeast. The trail seemed like a never-ending rock pile, but it went by quickly since we were above the treeline and surrounded by beautiful views! We met another couple from the Boston area and chatted with them until we arrived at Mt. Washington’s summit. Alex kept mentioning having them take a picture for us when we got to the summit, so he wanted to stick with them. He kept mentioning this during the hike, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
When we arrived at Mt. Washington’s summit, it was just about to go into the clouds, so we decided to take a quick walk around before heading inside to warm up and eat more snacks. We really like snacks if you haven’t figured that out already. Sadly, we were separated from our Boston friends and couldn’t find them. Alex still wanted to get a pic of us together, so we went to a secluded part of the summit where the clouds hadn’t taken over yet and set up a self-timed picture. Or so I thought.
The winds were picking up, so all I wanted to do was start our hike back down. I counted down from 10 thinking the picture would have been taken by then and started to turn away from Alex when he grabbed me and turned me to him. (I’m crying writing this btw.) The love of my life, my best friend, my soulmate asked me to marry him. In my favorite place doing something I love. He knew this was going to be our last hike of the season, so he made sure he proposed on the summit. I seriously love this human so much. Obviously, I said yes :)!! The little sneak was recording the whole thing! I literally could not stop crying. I was SO surprised! I was so sure that I would know when Alex was going to propose because he is not good at hiding his emotions lol, but I had no idea! After crying and celebrating, we decided to start our descent down Mt. Washington at 1:00 PM. The winds were picking up SO much and the clouds were moving in quickly, so we knew we had to get moving.
We had to be aware of the signs we were following during our descent because it got tricky. We had to make sure we were following signs for the Great Gulf Trail/Jewell Trail and then turned off towards Jewell Trail. We almost missed the sign for the Jewell Trail because we were engulfed in clouds at that point and visibility was low. Mt. Washington isn’t known to have the craziest weather for nothing! The winds were picking up too, so we hauled our butts quickly down this trail. Once we were below the clouds, we had some breathtaking foliage views. It was amazing!
Even though the trail was a gradual descent, we were still descending for five miles… so it seriously went on forever. Or at least in our minds, it did! It was an uneventful hike down once we were below the treeline. We did, however, step on a ground wasp nest, and got stung, so that was exciting… helped us finish the hike quicker since we were RUNNING haha!
The trial ended at the Cog Railroad Station, so we had a bit of a walk back to our car in the lower lot. At that point though, we didn’t care. We were happy to be off the mountain. Our legs were super sore as you can imagine.
This hike will forever hold a special place in my heart. And besides that, it was a very beautiful hike. Tough, but beautiful. I would highly recommend this hike even if you only summit Mt. Monroe!
Have you hiked Mt. Washington with Mt. Monroe or each alone?