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Trips in NH

Mt. Moriah

by Bill Newman

Hike Length: overnight

Trails: Stony Brook Trail to Carter-Moriah Trail

Date: Sept 3 and 4th, 2004

I had a few conditions in mind for a Labor Day weekend hike. I wanted a hike in an area of the Whites I hadnít done and I wanted to avoid major crowds. I was bringing my 13-year-old son, Nick, on his second hiking trip, and he wanted to bring a friend, Steve, on his first hike so I also needed a trail that wasnít too difficult. After looking through the trips on this website and also checking out the topoís, I decided on tackling the Carters. My original plan was to do the Carter Ridge over 2 nights, but by the time the week of the trip came, we had changed it to a single night, and decided that weíd hit the Imp camp via the Stony Brook Trail and choose a single peak to hit once we got there.

Friday, September 3, 2004
The Stony Brook Trail is off Rte 16 on the opposite side of the Androscoggin Ranger Station. We came south on 16 from Gorham and missed the trailhead because we couldnít see a marker. We turned around and found it easily going north. Look for Stony Brook Road if youíre going south. There is parking for about 15 cars and there is a $3 fee per night for parking.

The trail is very nice and wide and flat for the first 2 miles and extremely easy to navigate. After going over 2 bridges, you follow the brook on the right for about Ĺ mile to a crossing (be careful at this one). There is a nice pool here, so it would be great for a picnic lunch. Keep this in mind if youíre looking for a very easy walk. No falls or anything, just a neat place to stop and enjoy a quick dip.

The next 1-Ĺ miles are flat and wide enough for 2 people and is VERY easy. Thereís very little slope but the brook does fall away slightly to your left. The sound of the brook is still refreshing though and there are no rocks or roots on the trail. Once you hit the next brook crossing (not too difficult) there is a decent rest spot before the serious ascent. Stop here for a drink and rest (not that you need it) and prepare yourself for the upcoming trail. The trail does become steep and rocky from here on up.

It wasnít too muddy but there are some wet parts where the brook (now just tributaries) flows along and through the trail. Stony Brook is very aptly named because there are a lot of rocks on this trail, and quite a bit of scrambling from here to the junction of the Carter-Moriah Trail. There arenít any rockslides, just a lot of rocks going uphill. There is one more stream crossing to be careful at because itís a small but sheer rock face with a lot of moss. Nothing too dangerous just something to be aware of in order to avoid slipping.

There is some fuzzy math when it comes to the trail markers on this one. The trail marker at the bottom says 4.1 to Imp shelter from the parking lot, but when you hit the junction of the Carter-Moriah trail the marker says 3.8 to the road and .7 to the Imp Camp. Somehow we lost 4 tenths of a mile. My NG map has it as 3.6 to the junction, so maybe we only lose 2 tenths of a mile. Also, when I was researching this trail, one personís description mentioned that parts of the trail had been changed- maybe the signs havenít been.

Once you hit this junction, the trail goes to the right and hangs just below the ridge at most points (this is now part of the Carter-Moriah Trail). At about 4 tenths of a mile to Imp you get the first great views of The Northern Presidentials from a small out cropping. These are really the first views of any kind along this trail, but there are a lot of trees, so maybe there is more to see during the Fall. Water really isnít a problem along this one although near the ridge, the brook becomes a trickle.

Once at Imp Camp a tent the caretaker will assign site. There are only 4 singles and 1 double platform and all are on a first-come-first-serve basis. There is an $8 fee per person per night for the platform and there is also a small shelter (maybe 12 tightly packed) that is used mostly by AT through hikers. Some other conveniences include: a bear box, dishwashing area, and a compost toilet. The most impressive part of Imp Camp is the observation area that overlooks the Notch and the town of Gorham. Some great views during the day, and even better ones for stargazing at night. A small wooden couch is there for comfort.

Saturday, September 4, 2004
The night was fairly windy and the morning wasnít too much better. It wasnít cold, just windy and very cloudy, and it obscured any views of sunrise. We decided the best thing to do was to head back to the trail junction, drop our packs and hit the summit of Moriah in hopes that by the time we got to it, the clouds would have blown away. I would have tried for Northern Carter (about 2 miles), but based on how cloudy it was, we figured heading back the other way would be best, this way if the weather got bad, we could just head out.

We dropped our packs at the junction and headed the 1.3 miles to the summit. There are some fantastic views of the Carters all along the way and plenty of picturesque spots to stop at, just no water. The trail isnít too difficult just a little muddy, but itís well marked with white/blue paint stripped trees and cairns to follow. It does seem a little longer than the 1.3 miles the marker says (maybe they added that 2 tenths of a mile here). Eventually after many open areas, you trek down into the trees to a marker for the Carter-Moriah trail (this eventually leads to the Kenduskeag Trail) and Mt. Moriah (.1 of a mile from here) and head straight up a small hand-over-hand climb.

The summit is very small but has some more fantastic views to the Presidential Range. Washington, Adams, and Madison call all be seen, but their peaks were in the clouds. You also get some great views of the Carter Ridge and in back of you to the east are the Royce Mountains and Maine. This was both Nick and Steveís first 4,000 footer, so they were pretty excited to have done it and to see these views. Fortunately the clouds opened ever so often to give us some clear 360-degree views. (Only 47 more to go, guys!) Going down this trail can be brutal on the knees and all three of us stopped more than once to give our legs a break from the rocks, but once you hit that rest area at the crossing, itís all easy going from here on in.

This trail is rated as Moderate, but I think itís only because the first 2 to 2 1/2 miles are easy and the balance is difficult, so they average it out to moderate. Just another great hike in The Whites!

Equipment: The essentials...and a camera!

Pictures from the Moriah Hike >>
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