Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hiking the Moats

Driving to the trailhead through Pinkham Notch I caught an occasional glimpse of white on the highest peaks, snow from last night's passing cold front. The high summits remained in the clouds all day. Today's hike would take me up to the Moats, a beautiful set of mountains that can be seen from North Conway, NH.


First View

Mount Chocorua

Had a late start and got into some of the leaf-peeping traffic but not too bad, I was doing some peeping myself. Drove to West Side Road, turned down Passaconway and continued to the trailhead parking area for the Moat Mountain Trail. There were eight cars already there so it didn't look like I would be alone today. Then a group of ten cars pulled in and I knew I wouldn't be alone.

The air was cool and crisp so I pulled on another layer, strapped on my pack and took off. This is a nicely groomed trail, passes over a foot bridge and shortly after this  bridge takes a sharp left and proceeds up over an ever increasing rocky trail. The trail gets steeper and the rocks get looser.

After the loose rocks the trail turns to ledge and with last night's rain it was a slick trek. There are blazes but there were a few times that the trail seemed somewhat obscured. During this ledge scramble nice views were starting to emerge. The remainder of the trail was ledge and rock all the way to the summit.

South Moat Summit

Up on top of South Moat Mountain the views were fantastic! There were many people gathered at the top and they just kept coming. I waited my turn to to stand on the highest piece of granite. When it cleared I got a nice panoramic movie view with my camera. I looked over to Middle Moat Mountain and decided to wander over, it was not that far.

Mount Cranmore

North Moat from Middle Moat

It was not more than a ten to fifteen minute hike over to Middle Moat. This also has nice unobstructed views and also had many people gathering. I did not stay long and decided to turn around and head back down. Between Middle and South Moat I took a brief break, had a snack and soaked up some sun. As I headed down the trail the people kept coming.

South Moat from Middle Moat

Several times today I seemed to get sidetracked but always managed to end up back on the trail, mostly on the granite ledges. There was one embarrassing moment far down the trail passing over the Dry Brook footbridge. I passed several lady hikers on the bridge taking photos. On the other side of the bridge the trail takes a hard right but I kept going straight out into the woods. I let out an "oops", turned around, came back to the bridge and continued on the trail. It's one thing to wander off trail when there's nobody there but when you have an audience,'s undignified. I could blame it on the leaves being gone, the trail not being marked, or daydreaming but it was a case of just not paying attention.

Slick your step

I have been looking over at these mountains for years and never knew what I was missing. This was a very nice hike with spectacular views and a great Fall day to go along with both!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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