At 4,802 feet, Mount Moosilauke is the 10th highest summit of New Hampshire. It is also the westernmost of New Hampshire’s 48 peaks over 4,000 feet. It is well worth a visit as the summit is completely treeless for a long stretch and offers fantastic views in all directions. Mount Moosilauke can be approached by four directions, but this outing scales the mountain by the south.
This snowshoe starts at the Ravine Lodge Trailhead. The Ravine Lodge offers food and lodging, but it closes down during winter. After a period of renovations, it is set to open again in the fall of 2017.
The Gorge Brook Trail is the most direct way to the summit from this trailhead. It follows a dirt road shortly at the start before diving into the forest. The ascent is very gradual at the start and follows the Gorge Brook until it reaches an elevation of about 3,200 feet. It then takes a 90-degree turn to the right (east), and that’s when the real ascent begins. It doesn’t let up until the summit ridge is reached.
From the treeless ridge, views are fantastic in all directions, most notably east toward the Franconia Ridge. The last stretch before reaching the plateau crosses a field of snowy shrubs before arriving at large cairns that lead the way to the summit. Take the time to walk around on the ridge and soak in the scenery. On a clear day, one can even see the Green Mountains of Vermont and some peaks of the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
The wind can be quite strong and the snow can become very solid on the bare ridge, and the conditions are sometimes icy. Bringing traction in addition to snowshoes is a good idea. As this is a popular outing due to the excellent views-to-effort ratio, the trail is usually well broken.
This outing is an out-and-back, but there is an opportunity for a loop by going over the summit to South Peak and descending to Ravine Lodge by using the Carriage Road and Snapper Trail.
Mount Moosilauke is also popular with backcountry skiers and splitboarders due to the great exposed ridge, so share the trail with respect and avoid postholing.
Note: A gate on the Ravine Lodge road may be closed during the heart of winter. Parking is available at the gate if it is closed, but a parking pass is required and it will add about 3 miles of walking on a dirt road to the outing. Other trailheads are also available. In any case, don’t pass on this fantastic mountain!
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.