Sunday, August 15, 2010
AL MERRILL LOOP: 8/12/10
My brother Drew was up for a visit, and the mellow 5-mile loop on the Asquam-Ridge Trail and Al Merrill Loop on the east side of Mt. Moosilauke fit the bill for a morning hike. This route features beautiful woods the whole way, and near the top of "Mt. Kirkham" on the Blue Ridge an outlook provides an interesting view of the main mass of Moosilauke.
We parked on Ravine Lodge Road and walked up through the cul-de-sac at the end where this Dartmouth Outing Club sign gets its message across in entertaining fashion.
We continued a half-mile ahead on the old logging road to a footbridge over the Baker River.
On the far side we joined the Asquam-Ridge Trail, a lovely route that passes by some small meadows.
This gentle trail leads up a corridor through the deep Moosilauke woods.
Turtleheads were blooming in the wet areas.
The trail recrosses the Baker River as it tumbles down out of lower Jobildunc Ravine.
After a moderate climb, the Al Merrill Loop diverges R as the Asquam-Ridge Trail bears L to head up towards Mt. Jim.
Named for a longtime DOC Director of Outdoor Affairs, the Al Merrill Loop was originally opened as a ski trail in 1983. It turned out to be a fine hiking route as well.
Just down from the high point of the trail, at about 3350 ft., is the cleared 10th Mountain Division Outlook, named in honor of Dartmouth men who served with the famous ski troops of World War II.
The viewpoint is growing in from below, but still offers an unusual and interesting view of the east side of The Moose, with the main summit on the R and South Peak on the L.
The view into Gorge Brook Ravine and its slides is especially good. The old, long-abandoned Gorge Brook Slide Trail went up the largest of the slides.
Smooth footing for the descent along the switchbacks on the south side of Al Merrill Loop.
After our hike, we paid a visit to the DOC's Ravine Lodge, one of the neatest places in the mountains. From the porch there's a nice view up to the mountain.
A wonderful collection of retired DOC trail signs adorns the wall of the main room in the Lodge. One of these days we'll go there for dinner; if space is available and you make reservations, the dinner meal is open to the public. The food is reported to be excellent, and a few years ago I bought the Ravine Lodge cookbook for Carol. It's an entertaining volume packed with good hearty recipes.