Trail: Gorge Brook
Hours: 6:15 of hiking; 7:30 total
August 28, 2016
Mt. Moosilauke (4,802’) is the 10th tallest mountain in New Hampshire and has one of the best summit views! “Moosilauke” translates to “bald place” which is an accurate description of its summit. There are a few trails leading to the summit, but Gorge Brook Trail is one of the easiest with the least mileage.
NOTE: Gorge Brook Trail is an out-and-back trail, so you will be descending the same way you ascended. The trail gains over 2,500 feet of elevation in 3.1 miles, so it is very steep at times.
Alex and I began our hike at 9:00 AM on a warm, low-humidity August morning. It was partly cloudy, so we were hopeful the clouds would disperse by the time we reached the summit. We were mentally prepared, however, to have the summit in the clouds since it is one of the tallest mountains. The trailhead was at Ravine Lodge, so it was hard to miss once we were in the parking lot. We didn’t do too much exploring at the Lodge, but we knew from research that it was open to the public for rooms and meals. From what we saw, there was an event with a summer camp, so the parking lot was very crowded. We ended up parking about a half mile from the trailhead.
The beginning of the trail descended a bit following along the Baker River where we crossed a small bridge. The ascent was gradual with switchbacks- nothing too crazy. The trail began to ascend more steeply crossing over two more bridges. We weren’t sure if it was because the trail follows along streams, or if it had rained the day prior, but the trail was very wet and muddy. This didn’t cause too many issues as there weren’t any rock scrambles to deal with, but it made for some messy hiking boots! After about two miles, there were two cleared viewpoints that would usually have a nice view of the White Mountains, but the clouds were low that day.
Continuing past the viewpoints, the trail went in and out of the treeline and became steeper with lots of rocks in the path. This was where the ascent became more difficult. The rocks were on the larger side, so at times it was hard to find secure footing. Soon after, we finally broke through the treeline to a bald patch and made it to the summit! JUST KIDDING – it was a fake summit. The clouds were hiding the real summit from our view, which was better since we couldn’t see how much longer we had.
We hiked another half mile up a steep, rocky incline until we reached the summit around noon and WOW. What beautiful views the clouds gave us!! We were super ecstatic that we could see the AMAZING view we climbed for! I hope you can sense my sarcasm lol. As you can see in the picture below, there was absolutely no view. We normally don’t take a picture with the summit sign but decided to just in case the clouds didn’t disperse.
We stayed on the summit for an hour hoping the clouds would disperse. As we were about to start our descent, the clouds began to move! We never had a complete 360° view, but the clouds moved enough that we saw the entire view in sections. The photo at the top of the post shows what I mean. Although this trail isn’t the most difficult, we struggled a bit once we broke the treeline, so we were excited that we were rewarded with some views! The best views are looking East towards the rest of the White Mountains.
After we took pictures and enjoyed the view, we began our descent. I believe you can make this a loop by descending via Carriage Road > Snapper Trail, but we decided to stick with what we knew. The beginning of the descent was tricky navigating around the larger rocks, but after that, it was much easier. I’m not sure if we were taking our time descending or if we wanted to hurry back to the car, but the descent seemed to take FOREVER. We were becoming antsy. At every flat section we encountered, we began to run lol! I guess this trail tired us out. It wasn’t really difficult but was challenging enough to have our bodies tired and sore. Once we saw the first bridge we crossed, we took off! We ran past the trailhead and lodge and didn’t stop until we reached our car at 4:00 PM. We just wanted to head home lol.
I wish we had a clear view at the summit, but even with what we had, we could see how beautiful the views were. If you want to conquer one of the tallest 4,000-footers with a moderately challenging hike, this is for you! If you are looking for an even bigger challenge, I would recommend hiking Beaver Brook Trail. I read that it is a strenuous hike made for people looking for a tough challenge.
Have you hiked Mt. Moosilauke? Was the summit in the clouds, or were you rewarded with beautiful views? If you have any questions/comments, please leave them below!