Sunday, May 24, 2015

Livermore Trail - Easy Multi-use trail in the White Mountains

Stopping along the Livermore Trail in Waterville Valley
Sign off of Tripoli Rd directs you to trailhead
A couple weeks ago, Summit and I headed up to the Waterville Valley area to tackle Mt. Osceola - a popular 4,000 footer in the White Mountains range.  Unfortunately, when I got there, I discovered that although it was May 9th, the access road was still closed for "winter".  Hiking the road would have essentially doubled my hike, so I decided to try the Livermore Trail head, which I had passed on my drive up.  

My plan was to take the Livermore Trail and try to possibly summit South Peak of the Tripyrmids.  I felt the loop would be too challenging for the dog and on this day, hadn't allocated enough time to finish the loop.  As it turns out, I got bogged down by multiple stream crossings on the Mt. Tripyramid trail and ended up turning around.  On the bright side, I discovered that the Livermore trail is a wonderful family-friendly trail for hikers, bikers, and skiiers.  The wide-gravel trail proved to be a perfect day with the dog including multiple views of forests, streams, and cascades.  Read on below to recreate this adventure...

Livermore Trail is more like a road...
Adventure:  Livermore Trail in the Waterville Valley

Getting there: From Boston/Southern New Hampshire.  Take I-93 N to Exit 28 in Campton.  Follow Rt 49 East towards Waterville Valley.  Before you reach the town center, take a left onto Tripoli Rd.  You will pass Ski Area Rd on the left and soon after there will be a turn off onto Livermore Road Parking area on the right.  Turn here and park in the lot.  This is a White Mountain National Forest trailhead so you will need a National Park pass or $3 cash/check to pay for parking.  There are privy toilets at the trailhead.

Trail:  The Livermore Trail is more like a road than a trail.  This multi-use path is used as a ski trail for the Waterville Valley Ski Resort in winter and for hikers and mountain bikers in summer.  I'm not accustomed to seeing such wide, graded paths in the Whites and kept expecting it to narrow, but it didn't until it reached the Tripyramid loop.  The trail was a pleasant uphill and gradual climb.  It serves as a main vein for a number of smaller trails including Greeley Ponds Trail, Big Pines Path, Boulder Path, Kettles Path, and North Rapids Trail.  I stayed on the main drag - hoping to get to one of the Tripyramids.  Along the way, I enjoyed the hardwood forests and the many interactions with the Cascade Brook.  Summit enjoyed splashing in the water.  This trail had bridges and culvert crossings so no worries about wet feet!
      At 2.6 miles there is an intersection for the south end of the Mt Tripyramid Trail.  The Tripyramid loop is
Black Cascade off of Mt. Tripyramid Trail
not recommended for the casual hiker.  I've done this once before and it is a gnarly climb including a scree slope and plenty of bouldering.  I decided I'd take a right at the fork and see how far Summit and I could get up the South Tripyramid before we needed to turn around.   Right away, we had a wide river crossing across Avalanche Brook.  Unfortunately, the river was high and there were no dry crossings.  I gave it my best shot, but...SPLASH... I slipped on a rock and ended up submerged to my shins.  After wringing out my socks, I continued.  The trail narrowed and meandered up into the woods.  It was evident that the trail had not been frequented and was in need of trail work.  Heading up the path, I saw no blazes (unusual for the Whites), although on the decent I saw some.  Also, the deeper we hiked, the more moose droppings we encountered. At about 1 mile in, I think we encountered what on the map is labeled as "Black Cascade".  It was a beautiful spot - rushing cascades and small waterfalls.  I could see the trail on the other side of the cascade but with high/fast water I decided it wasn't worth the risk to cross (and then cross again on my return).  It was here that we turned around and hiked the 3.6-ish miles back to the parking lot.

Junction for Tripyramid Loop
Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.6 miles one way to Mt.Tripyramid junction.  I continued another ~1 mile on Mt. Tripyramid Trail before turning around at Black Cascade.  (~7 miles total)


- This is an easy climb and a nice wide/graded trail - perfect for families with young children or people who need an easier hike but still want to see the White Mountains.

Views of Cascade Brook
- The Livermore trail does not provide mountain views- although it had lovely streams and forest.

- Try one of the short offshoots to elongate your hike.

- Make sure to bring a National Park Pass or $3 exact so you can park in the lot.

Even though it wasn't the 4,000 footer I had planned on tackling when I got in the car that day, the dog and I enjoyed this forest hike among the trees and water.  It's always exciting to discover another trail.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mt. Moosilauke - Moderate Hike for Major View

View from Summit of Mt. Moosilauke
Approaching the summit of Mt. Moosilauke
It's been far too long since I wrote a post.  I partly blame the long winter that kept me from my traditional early spring hiking, but I also blame this wonderful spring weather we are currently experiencing.  The long-awaited spring weather caused me to fling myself into outdoor adventures and I've been reluctant to sit inside writing.  As a result, I've had quite a few hiking adventures this month and find myself having to "catch up" on sharing them.  Where do I start?  How about with last weekend...

Over the past couple months, I've been mostly hiking small, close peaks to my house - Pawtuckaway, Mt. Major, Mt.Cardigan, and Gonic Trails, but last weekend I told Matt I needed to get up to the White Mountains and tackle a 4,000 footer.  To ease into larger hikes, I decided to go with one of the easier 4,000 footers - Mt. Moosilauke.  I haven't done this peak in probably six years, but I remember it has a wide open summit and multiple choices for ascents - ranging from moderate to very challenging.  Read below on how to replicate my adventure...

The trail is well signed
Adventure: Mt. Moosilauke via Gorge Brook Trail

Getting There:  The Gorge Brook Trail leaves from the Dartmouth Outing Club's Moosilauke Ravine Lodge.  To get there from Boston, take 1-93 North and get off at exit 32.  Turn Right onto Rt 112 West.  This will take you into the town of North Woodstock.  After 3 miles, take a left onto Rt 118 South (we missed it the first time - so if you pass Beaver Brook parking lot you've gone too far). Rt 118 winds up the mountain. After 7.2 miles, turn right on Ravine Road.  Take the dirt/gravel road to the end and park along the road. Parking is free. Once parked, walk down past the lodge toward the river.  Here you will see signs for Gorge Brook Trail.  The drive took me two hours from southern New Hampshire (2.5 from Boston).

Trail:  Although there are multiple ascents up Mt. Moosilauke, we chose to go out and back on the Gorge Brook Trail because it is one of the easiest approaches as well as the shortest (3.7 miles each way).  The trail leaves from the lodge, crosses a bridge over the brook, and meanders up through hardwood forest. Due to it's high
Crossing Gorge Brook Trail
elevation start, the forest soon turns to evergreens.  The trail is easy to moderate as it climbs near the brook.  We discovered that it was re-routed onto the Snapper trail for a short piece but then reconnected with Gorge Brook Trail.
     Along the hike, you get a few peaks of views where the trees have been cut back.  As you climb, the evergreens get shorter and shorter. We were surprised to still have snow and ice on the trail over 4000 feet on May 17th!  Once above treeline, you can see the summit for the last quarter mile of trail.  Unlike most other White Mountain 4,000 footers, there was no slab hiking or bouldering near the summit.  It was a smooth hike (with some rocks and roots) but nothing technical.
     The summit is beautiful!  At 4,802 ft, you get 360 degree views of the surrounding valley and White Mountains.  The wind whips over the bald peak, but thanks to rock shelters, we were able to sit and enjoy our lunch with a view.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Distance: 3.7 miles one way.  7.4 miles out-and-back

- This is a perfect way to start back up on big hiking in the Whites.  The distance is substantial but the hike is
Still snow in mid-May!
only moderate difficulty.  If you had plenty of time, it would also be a great way to introduce a child or teen to big mountain hiking.  What's more, is that with relatively easy hiking, you get a top-notch view!

- Surprisingly, there was still significant snow and ice over 4,000 feet in mid May!  We were not prepared for this - and as a result got some wet ankles when we post-holed through the snowy trail.  It also made the trail slick.  In retrospect- trekking poles or microspikes would have prevented my three falls on the way down.

- The summit is completely exposed - bring multiple warm layers/windbreaker to stay warm.

- Before heading back home, stop in at Woodstock Inn and Brewery in North Woodstock for a beer and bite!

Lunch break on the summit of Mt. Moosilauke
Although it had been a few months since I tackled a 4,000 footer, I had no problem summiting Mt. Moosilauke.  Just as I remembered, the hike was pleasant and the views amazing on this beautiful New Hampshire peak!

 Please leave comments or questions below and feel free to like us on FACEBOOK!

Summit loved our hike!

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