Monday, January 6, 2014

Mt. Roberts in Winter! (Moultonborough, NH), 1/5/14

Mt. Roberts (2,582') via Mt. Roberts Trail January 5, 2014.

Mileage:  5.2 miles (RT) 

Elevation gain:  1,300'

Trailhead:  Trailhead parking is located on Ossipee Park Road, Moultonborough (a mile past the Castle in the Clouds entrance).  Parking is near the Castle Springs bottling plant. Lot is maintained in winter. 

Hiked with Rich.  The forecast called for warm temps and cloudy skies and since we planned to hike on Sunday, we were hoping someone else would break trail on Saturday so we wouldn't have to.  

The drive to Moultonborough is almost an hour less than the drive to the White Mountains. And, since this hike is just 5 miles, we took our time getting ready that morning. 

Parking lot is large and well maintained.

There were a few parking spots left when we arrived.  After we got our snowshoes on, we headed past the kiosk through the gate and down the road toward Shannon Pond. We went left at the fork toward the horse barn and just kept following the signs which took us to the broken-out trail.

Follow the orange markers and blazes, and occasional cairn.

From the looks of it several snowshoers, two skiers (tracks), a postholer and one dog had hiked the trail the day before.  The recent storms left about two feet of snow on the trail; we were glad someone forged the way before us.

It was colder than predicted but there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The trail skirts the paddock and then heads into the woods.  The ascent is gentle but it had been a while since we'd done any hiking and we were feeling it in our legs.  

Mellow trail, well broken out.
A little over a mile in we reached the lower rock slabs and stopped to enjoy the breathtaking views. 

The first view (of the lakes and the Belknap Range).  There would be others.

We wound back into the woods before popping out onto more snow covered slabs.  The wind had swept the snow from the rock, leaving a thin crust.  The trail became narrow and snowy, only one or two of yesterday's hikers had continued on toward the summit.

Higher up yields an even more beautiful view. Clouds are showing up!

Past the slabs we got into a more wintry, summit-like environment.  Snow clung to the trees making for lazy, heavy white branches, we ducked and weaved as we trudged through the snow.

Snowy entrance to the summit.
The summit area circles around and back onto the Mt. Roberts trail - with the High Ridge trail branching off toward Mt. Faraway.  No one had gone beyond the Mt. Roberts summit since the snow storms.  

Beautiful day (Mt. Washington in the distance).

We changed, had a bite to eat, took a few photos and headed back down the trail.  Down was considerably easier than up (isn't it always!).  We met several couples and their dogs heading up. The afternoon was high and as we shuffled down the air became warmer and the snow cake-like.

Sun was low, giving the snow a satin finish.

This is the perfect hike to take friends with different hiking abilities and experience. There are at least four viewpoints before the summit and many make those points their destination which allows those out in the sun to choose how long and how high they go. The trail is so well marked and well traveled there's little left to chance.  

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