TRIP REPORT: Mt Moriah via Stony Brook Trail – White Mountains, NH 8-13-16
Hiking stats at a glance:
Trailhead: Stony Brook (Rt 16)
Miles Point to Point: ~10
Hike Highlights: Mount Moriah (4,049 ft)
I only needed one more day in NH to finish up my research work so my buddy Sam joined me for a hike on Mt Moriah to finish things off. I was looking forward to this hike for its views but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate so we had to settle for cloudy views and rain. It was kind of a bummer considering the 6.5 hour drive needed to get up to the Whites in the first place, but what can you do. We still ended up having a great day in the mountains.
We got up at a reasonable hour since the hike was not going to be very long and got to the Stony Brook trailhead on Rt 16 a little bit before 9am. The lot is actually on a small road off of Rt 16 so you want to make sure you aren’t driving too fast or you might actually miss it as you drive down the road.
It was actually drizzling a little bit before we started hiking but once we walked down the road a short ways and into the woods the canopy stopped whatever rain was falling. Before too long the rain stopped completely and wouldn’t bother us again until we finished. The weather was otherwise not too bad with temperatures in the 60’s but it felt like close to 100% humidity which wasn’t great.
The start of the trail consisted of mostly flat trail with only minimal ups and downs. The trail was well defined and we didn’t have any problems with navigation throughout the day.
The beginning of the trail followed the brook as it wound its way up the slope towards the ridge and Mt Moriah beyond. The brook was very beautiful and made for a nice highlight to this otherwise boring section of flat trail. The trail also crosses the brook a few times early on but bridges make this no problem at all.
After a little while on the mostly flat trail we came to a more significant brook crossing which required a little bit of rock hopping. However, the water level was quite low so it was no trouble to get across.
Once we passed this crossing the trail opened up onto a wide and flat trail that seemed like it might also serve as an atv/snowmobile trail during other times of the year due to its size and smoothness. However, I really don’t know if this is really the case. Either way this section of trail was very easy and flat so we were able to pick up the pace.
After a little while we reached the last major brook crossing which is at about the halfway mark on the trail to the top of the ridge. This crossing also marks the end of the mainly flat trail.
After crossing the brook the grade of the trail became significantly more steep but we were feeling good and warmed up at this point so we were able to keep up a good pace.
As we gained elevation and began to get closer to the top of the ridge the mostly smooth trail began to give way to large rocks and boulders which we needed to navigate. This section wasn’t particularly hard but it did take a little more effort to navigate.
The rocky trail continued more or less uninterrupted from this point to the ridge. Despite slowing us down slightly it was nice to get a little bit of variation on the trail up to this point.
Once we reached the top of the ridge we were greeted by a trail sign marking the way towards the Carters to the right and Mt Moriah to the left. We made the left towards Mt Moriah and quickly came to another junction. At this second junction we continued straight along the ridge. From this point on the trail became much more interesting with many rock slabs to navigate and other interesting features. This was definitely the most challenging section of hiking on the day.
This section of trail is about 1.5 miles long so it did take a bit of time to navigate but the varied terrain made the time go by a bit faster. In areas where the trees open up to open slabs, cairns mark the way.
From here we were hoping to have amazing views in every direction but unfortunately we were stuck in a cloud so the views were non existent.
As we progressed the slabby sections got larger and more open, but the grade was always pretty mellow so it was not particularly challenging. We just kept following the cairns as we snaked our way in and out of the trees between short rocky sections.
There were also a few short wooded sections which had some nice muddy sections that the Adirondacks would be proud of! This really made me feel at home!
As we got higher the trees got quite a bit shorter and I can only imagine these views would have been amazing. After a few more short sections of wooded trail we reached a fairly open clearing that only had very short spruce trees on top. This seems like it would be the summit but don’t get too excited because it is not!
We stopped here for a quick break before continuing on down the trail which snaked its way around a bend on boards and back into the woods.
Another short section of trail through the woods and a couple of small ups and downs took us to another junction marking the trail to the summit of Mt Moriah (The Carter-Moriah Trail).
From here one longer scramble and a short walk took us to the final sign marking the true summit of Mt Moriah up on a large outcrop.
Once we reached the top of the summit outcrop we were greeted by at least some partial views of the surrounding area. The views were far from optimal but it was nice that it opened up at least enough to see more than just the white of the clouds.
The summit also does have a benchmark on it for anyone that is working on their Operation Alaska Benchmark Challenge!
We didn’t linger long on the summit before heading back down the way we had come. Luckily the weather held so we were able to make very quick time on the way back down. Since I had just done the Carters last week we didn’t take the time to tack on any other mountains while we were up here. The hike out was uneventful except for our run in with the infamous spruce grouse! He wanted to have a standoff with us but he eventually conceded the trail and let us pass. This was the first time I have ever run into a spruce grouse so it was pretty awesome to see one in the wild.
Mt Moriah was a fun short hike but I would really like to come back to enjoy the views. With clear skies I can imagine it being a very memorable experience but like the cliche goes, a day in the mountains is always better than a day at the office!