Mt. Moosilauke via Glencliff Trail #23 of 48
Don’t be deceived by the beautiful summit shot I teased this write-up with, there were no such views to be had on this day.
Now, no matter how you pronounce it… and make no mistake, it’s a something of a hotly contested topic (btw: I am on team “Moose-il-ock”, as many old maps have the name printed as “Moose-hillock”, so that’s good enough for me), you spell this hike via Glencliff Trail “FUN”.
Ethan and I met up at the Glencliff trail head at 7am sharp…ish and didn’t delay long before getting under way on this hike that is now one of my fondest hiking memories.
Alltrails and others rate this trail as “Hard” but rating trails is very difficult, because it’s so subjective. I found this hike significantly easier than the last hike (Tripyramids via Pine Bend Trail) and had a much more enjoyable hike. Granted it wasn’t nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit on this day, but the Glencliff trail is give or take a steady 1,000 feet per mile, which is right about my current conditioning level without needing to stop frequently.
It was a cool, damp day, with a light drizzle coming down from time to time; not enough to require breaking out the raincoat, just enough to make things wet. We both felt pretty good today and we made comparatively excellent time to our last couple of outings. As we got higher and entered the Alpine zone we started to climb into the deck which was slammed right in on the mountaintop, and we were hiking in a thick, soupy fog. We abandoned hope of any views earlier in the hike, but this drove the point home, we would not see any of the (reportedly) spectacular views the summit affords on a clear day.
We saw only one other person on our way up and he was on his way down having presumably section-hiking the AT and had camped somewhere on or near the mountain, as the only other car parked at the Glencliff parking area was occupied by a woman waiting for an AMC-led, guided group hike.
Once we reached the intersection of Glencliff and Carriage Road it was a lovely path walk over to the summit of Moosilauke. We made excellent time across the ridge between South Peak and Moosilauke proper, arriving at the summit approximately 2.25 hours after setting out. There were several people at the summit having a snack and talking, but all had come to the peak via other routes.
We sat and had a quick snack, and then decided to try to beat the rain that we had seen forecast to start between 1-2pm that day.
Out and Back – Attempting a Good Trail Time
The “book time” for this trail is ~5.5 hours, and some sick part of me always wants to do hikes in under book time, so we decided to move as quickly as we safely could on the way back down. We were able to run / jog a good portion of the ridge back to Glencliff Trail and then we realized we wouldn’t be making as good time down as we envisioned; the drizzle and fog had been accumulating on the rocks all morning and the trail was steeper than it felt going up. Still, we pressed on and made up time where we could, jogging briefly here and there and just generally trying to keep our average moving pace up. Over all it went smoothly, with me doing a butt-plant only one time when I slipped on a mossy rock.
So how did it go? We made excellent time on the way down, all things considered. My conditioning has improved, but I was left wanting more. We finished in 4:10:04 – obviously well under book time, though I was a little disappointed to be over 4 hours. We decided that we could probably have done it in ~3:45 with a combination of better weather/conditions and a shorter stop at the top.
I did feel better on this hike than the last few, which is encouraging, but again I arrive at my conditioning not being what it was last year at this time. I’m dead set on improving that, because I know I’m capable of so much more than this.
What a glorious hike. I loved every aspect of this trail and I can only imagine how gorgeous the views will be the next time I do this mountain, which I will save for a blue-bird day. This goes down as one of my favorite hikes of the lot so far.
This marks number 23 of the 48 NH 4Ks, and I’m planning the next hike now. I would love to be in the mid 30s before snow flies. We’ll see how that pans out.