Member Trip report
Mt Moosilauke via Gorge Brook Slide
Trip Report/Photos from shep5
On July 21st, I decided I would head up to the White Mountains and hike Mt. Moosilauke using the old Gorge Brook Slide Trail. This trail was still detailed in the 1976 AMC Guide, but was discontinued shortly thereafter in the late 1970s. It was described as challenging, steep and rocky and was apparently once meant to be climbed only in the uphill direction. Information about this trail was somewhat sparse on the internet, but some reports had mentioned the trail as difficult to find and the approach on the old portion of the Gorge Brook Trail (before it was re-routed) as being full of blowdown.
As I didn't know what to expect, I decided to get an early start. I arrived at the Ravine Lodge Road at about 7:45AM. Since the upper parking lot by the lodge was closed due to construction, I parked along the road and walked up to the lodge at just before 8AM. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies. It was a bit chilly, but it was forecast to be in the low 60's above 4000-feet. On my way to the trails, I passed the newly constructed Ravine Lodge, which was absolutely beautiful. After walking down to the Baker River, I crossed the bridge and followed the signs for the Gorge Brook Trail. This trail climbed at a modest, persistent grade. After only about 20 minutes at the junction with the Snapper Trail, the trail left the brook for a bit and meandered through mostly open woods. At 8:35 I crossed a bridge, which put me on the eastern side of Gorge Brook. The trail followed the brook for about 10 minutes, when I ran into a memorial plaque for the Ross McKenney Forest and a trail sign which designated the area as the "Last Sure Water". This was the point where the current Gorge Brook Trail had been re-routed away from the brook. The old trail continued along the brook and I jumped into the woods at this point. There seemed to be a faint trail still here, but it didn't really matter as the woods were very open. I followed the herd path for about 10-15 minutes, when I noticed a path and open woods on the other side of the brook. I crossed this and after a short time I ran into a dry drainage area, which paralleled the brook. I followed this, since I felt it might be connected to the old slide. At 9AM, I noticed a thin strip of rocky slide ascending into the woods and began to make my way up this. Immediately this opened up a bit and it was distinctly a slide. It was only a few minutes later that I was starting to get views into the Gorge Brook Valley and where I ran into a orange double-lined blaze. This was a great confirmation, that I was on the right slide and this was indeed the old trail. The trail was steep, but wasn't that difficult. There were a couple of steep granite ledges, which I had to go around, but there were paths which led me around these areas. The slide was getting quite overgrown with scrub, but offered up some amazing views as I climbed higher. I could see Moosilauke's summit as well as the Tripyramids and several other peaks north of the Lakes Region. There were about half-a-dozen blazes still visible and they led me right up to the trail as it entered the woods at the top of the slide (9:35AM). The trail in the woods was amazingly still totally in tact and I easily followed this to where it popped out onto the old Carriage Road, which I reached at about 9:50.
Having made it to the Carriage Road, I just followed this up to the junction with the AT. I reached this point in 10 minutes. Here I met an AT thru-hiker and we chatted a bit, before I took the spur trail for the summit of South Moosilauke (4523'). This was a relatively easy climb and I was atop of Moosilauke's South Peak at 10:15AM. The views were wonderful, particularly of Mt. Moosilauke and of Mt. Clough, Jeffers and Sugarloaf to the west. I stopped to chat with a group of Vermont women on the summit, who had just started climbing the Whites. At about 10:35 I headed back down to the AT and began the final stretch to the summit. This was fairly modest and in 15 minutes I was breaking treeline for the open alpine region atop of Mt. Moosilauke (4802'). It was 11AM, when I reached the top and it's bright orange summit sign. Initially, there weren't that many people there, but it wasn't too long before more and more people began to arrive. This mountain gave an awesome 360-degree views with South Peak prominently to the south and also clearly visible were the Kinsmans, Cannon, the Franconia peeks, South Twin and the Bonds, Carrigain, the Tripyramids as well as Washington and the Presidential Range in the distance. Camels Hump in Vermont could also be seen, as it has such a distinctive summit profile. I hung out for about an hour and a half, hoping to run into Mike's GO group, who were coming up the Gorge Brook Trail. I chatted, had a bit to eat and I checked out the old cabin foundation just to the southeast of the summit. At around 12:30 I ran into Mike's group as they were emeging from the woods and I headed back up to the summit with them for their lunch break. I hadn't seen many of the guys, particularly Mike and Jon in years and it was great to catch up. After lunch I joined Mike's trip for the rest of hike back over to South Peak and down the Snapper Trail reaching my car again by 4:15PM.
The old Gorge Brook Slide Trail was still wonderfully intact despite its falling into disuse about 40 years ago. While the slide was much more open in the past and has started to become more overgrown, it still offers great views into and over the valley below. It provided a nice, interesting alternative to hiking the usual trails on Moosilauke. Another highlight of the day was running into Mike, Jon, George, Bob, John, Robert and newcomer Jim! It was great to catch up and appreciated being welcomed onto the latter part of their hike!
Mileage and Elevation Gain: Approximately 8.75 miles with 2650 cumulative elevation gain.
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