HURRICANE COUNTRY: 5/20/11
On a day that had a few rare breaks of sun, I drove over to one of the most scenic trailheads in the Whites: Breezy Point, the one-time site of the Moosilauke Inn at the southern base of Mt. Moosilauke. This area, located at the end of Breezy Point Rd. off NH 118, is the trailhead for the Moosilauke Carriage Road. It was acquired by the Forest Service a few years ago and features open fields with fine views. Behind the sign is the South Peak of Moosilauke.
The long ridge of Mt. Kineo is seen to the SE.
To the south is the hulking mass of Carr Mountain.
I did come here to hike as well as admire the roadside views. The plan was to check out the lower section of the Carriage Road, take the Hurricane Trail to the crest of Moosilauke's south ridge near the little bump called Hurricane Mountain, and poke around a little bit in the valley of Big Brook.
The Carriage Road is a "trail of many uses."
Parts of the Carriage Road up to the first Hurricane Trail junction provided very nice walking through the freshly greening hardwoods; other stretches were unpleasantly mucky, not surprising given the late snowmelt this year and recent soggy weather.
There were many of these [northern?] white violets in bloom.
And trout lilies were still on display at this 2000-ft. elevation.
I turned L onto the Hurricane Trail (opened about 1935 by the DOC) after 1.3 mi.
The first short section of this route was smooth and level, leading to a meadow-like area.
Clusters of wood anemone were in flower here.
Above the meadow the Hurricane Trail climbed moderately; higher up it passed through a Kilkenny-ish birch patch.
The trail ran alongside Litttle Brook for a while, crossing it twice.
There was a lot of wet footing on the second half of this climb, some of it probably chronic, and some perhaps due to the late, wet spring.
The upper part of this trail had a wild, remote feeling, enhanced by some rumbles of thunder that were rolling around the hills.
The trail leveled at about 3000 ft. and ran across the mossy, densely conifered ridgecrest.
Based on a Google Earth study, I went in search of an open ledgy patch near the "summit" of Hurricane (I never did hit the off-trail high point). I found the ledges about where expected.
The view was limited, but interesting, looking to the south.
The main features visible were nearby Chokecherry Hill in the foreground and a socked-in Carr Mountain in the back. With the thunder continuing to sputter, my visit to the ledges was very brief.
After descending well down from the ridgecrest, with the thunder subsiding, I bushwhacked across to Big Brook, which drains a basin on the south slope of Moosilauke. Here I found a suitable sitting rock for a late lunch.
Upstream I came upon a nice set of cascades.
Then I whacked up to the Carriage Road through a spectacular open hardwood forest.
In places the forest floor was carpeted with wood anemone and bellwort. I skirted around these luxuriant patches and placed my steps carefully in less-populated spots to minimize plant trampling.
Spring might be the most beautiful season in these woods, though a fall foliage visit, or a winter snowshoe ramble, might be equally rewarding.
The Carriage Road passes through the heart of this forest, with trout lilies growing right in the trail footbed.
A wonderful stretch of walking.
On the way down I made a side trip most of the way along the section of the Hurricane Trail that leads towards the Ravine Lodge.
Most of this mile is easy, smooth walkin'.
Near the Lodge, the trail briefly dips beside the Baker River, which was rocking today from snowmelt up high and recent rain.
Just upstream is the confluence of the Baker River (R) and Gorge Brook (L).
Back on the Carriage Road, this bridge led across Big Brook. It was named for a DOC lean-to located near here from 1932 to the early 1940s. Don't know what was so miserable about it.
Near the trailhead was this old foundation - perhaps an outbuilding for the Moosilauke Inn?
This is an interesting area with a lot of history, and merits additional exploration in the future.