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Hiking Mount Moosilauke - A Mountain to Love

Aug 29, 2016 02:04PM ● By Ryan Frisch

Story and photos by Lisa Densmore Ballard

If one can fall in love with a mountain, Moosilauke, the western-most 4,000-footer in the White Mountains, is my beau. It’s a tall, handsome peak whose 100-acre bald pate draws caresses from the sun on a bluebird day. It gives me gifts of wildflowers in spring, tart cranberries in summer, and bouquets of red, orange, and gold in fall. It stands strong against the elements that frequently pound it regardless of the season, yet it welcomes me whenever I visit. After 50 hikes to its lofty summit, a trek up my favorite mountain might wear me out, but I never tire of it, and I eagerly accept every invitation to hike it again.


  • Mount Moosilauke is the western-most 4,000-footer in the White Mountains and the dominant mountain along the upper Connecticut River Valley.
  • The Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) maintains the trail network on Moosilauke, as well as the 50-mile stretch of Appalachian Trail from Hanover to Moosilauke.
  • The Appalachian Trail traverses the summit of Mount Moosilauke.
  • The first official ascent of Mount Moosilauke was by the moose hunter, Chase Whitcher, in 1773.
  • The name “Moosilauke” has nothing to do with the large ungulate common to its slopes. It is derived from the Abenaki Indian words “moosi” and “auke”, which mean “bald place”.
  • About 100 acres of the upper mountain is in the alpine zone above tree line. Always bring warm clothes on this hike, even if it is 85 degrees and sunny at the trailhead, as the summit is exposed to extreme weather conditions and usually windy.
  • The lower Gorge Brook Trail was part of the famed Hell’s Highway ski trail where the first U.S. Downhill Championships were held in 1933.
  • Mount Moosilauke is located in White Mountain National Forest. The ravine lodge and the lower mountain is owned privately by Dartmouth College, but the summit is public land transferred to the government by the college many years ago. All hikers are welcome.

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