Thu, Nov 23, 2017
by Bill Newman
Hike Length: Dayhike (8.0 miles)
Trails: Beaver Brook
Date: June 4, 2005
Having done Cannon and both Kinsmans recently, it seemed only appropriate that Moosilauke was next on my hit list. All we had to do was decide on the best route. In the end, we opted to take The Beaver Brook Trail because we had read some great trip reports here about the cascades and the Hike-NH croo had done this for the Flags and also had a great trip report using this trail.
The trailhead is on the left on the Kanc heading west and just after Lost River and very easy to find. However parking isn’t free so keep your parking sticker visible or pay the 3 bucks. We got a bit of a late start (9:30 or so) but the sun was out in full force with a minor wind so the time really didn’t matter today. We had too many weekends of rain so it was really nice to have the weather gods show us some favoritism.
The trail starts out nice and level with 2 quick stream crossings. Even with all the rain, these were no problem. About the ¼ mile mark the ascent starts and pretty much stays that way for the balance of the trail. The trail follows the cascades for about 2 miles or about to the shelter so we had some great photo opportunities and water was not a problem. However, the black flies were a problem which kinda bothered me as I kept hearing that the Franconia Ridge had no bugs. Apparently they were all climbing Moosilauke with us today.
Once we got a little way past the shelter and the cascades, we were fine, so I think being so close to the water for 2 miles was the key. The trail was in excellent shape and we met Cath Goodwin and Steve Martin who had adopted this trail as part of the National Trail Days. Thank you both for the fantastic job, we still owe you a couple of beers. These trails are not built and maintained by themselves so I hope that anyone else that forgot it was Trail Day but met some of the work crews had a chance to give some props too. Great job by this tandem! There were only 2 blow downs the entire way up and both were gone on descent.
This trail was a lot more challenging that I thought and the warning sign at the beginning that says “you should be in excellent physical shape” isn’t kidding. This is one of those trails that make the summit so worthwhile….the effort is worth the reward. Several areas along the trail have had wooden block steps bolted to the rock face to make things easier, but even a Stairmaster won’t give your thighs this kind of abuse. Once past the shelter the grade declines a little so it’s only some rock hopping and foot grabbing tree roots to watch for. We only encountered a few snow patches on the trail and a minimal amount of mud. Again the trail crew has done a great job with run off.
We took plenty of time to get to the summit. Maybe because it was our first sun filled hike in the last 7 weeks and it drained us, or maybe it was because we stopped to talk to several AT hikers along the way, or maybe we’re getting old. I prefer to think that we did a decent but not quite "book speed" for the entire ascent on this trail and made the summit around 2:00.
I was surprised to see only 15-20 other people on such a wonderful day but it made finding a lunch spot easier and we even had some time to fly our kite (okay, Brownie flew it, we just watched). This has got to be one of the largest summits in the Whites, but you need to stay on the trail and at the areas near the old hotel foundation so the vegetation is not disturbed. This looks to be a very fragile area for vegetation so we made sure to respect this hill by only going to the designated areas and trails and everyone we saw was also observant.
The descent was uneventful but if I ever do this one again, I’d car-spot and take the Benton or Gorge Brook back down. The knees took a beating on the downhill as those stairs seemed further apart than on the ascent, but we were back to the car before 7 and still in great spritis as the sun was just setting.
Equipment: Bug Spray!
Special Equipment: Ben's 100, sunscreen, beer for trail crewPictures from the Moosilauke Hike >>
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