Saturday, July 2, 2016


I enjoyed early summer sun and views galore on a traverse of this ledgy mountain, the northeastern outpost of the 4000-footers. I went up the Carter-Moriah Trail from Gorham, and down Carter-Moriah Trail (southbound) and Stony Brook Trail, with a 1.7 mile road walk back to my car.

The trailhead at the end of Bangor Rd. in Gorham is in a residential neighborhood, with limited and (to me) somewhat uncomfortable parking. I parked at the powerline clearing 0.1 mile back down the road.

At 13.8 miles end-to-end, this is one of the longer trails in the Whites.

Nice woods on a shoulder approaching the little bump known as Mount Surprise.

A fern glade.

Mossy woods on the way to the Mount Surprise view ledge.

Presidential view from a ledge a few yards to the right of the trail, just below the summit of Surprise.

Sheep laurel lines the trail.

Sheep laurel blooms.

A mini-flume at the 2194-ft. summit of Mount Surprise.I grabbed a cool geocache here.

Above Mount Surprise the trail ascends many steep ledge slabs. Some are slippery when wet.

Presy view from the most open of the ledges above Mount Surprise.

Mount Washington, with the Irene slide on Hillman's Highway visible under Boott Spur.

NW vista to the Pliny, Pilot and Crescent Ranges. Pine Mountain is on the left.

Scrub, lichen and ledge.

Log bridges provide passage through a boggy flat.

At about 3380 ft. the trail passes a huge erratic known as "Quimby's Pillow," named after professor Elihu T. Quimby of Dartmouth College, who led a survey party that occupied the summit of Moriah in 1879 for the U.S. Coastal Survey. Moses Sweetser's late 19th century White Mountain guidebook gave its dimensions as 25 feet high and 15-20 feet square, with a weight of 500-600 tons.

The backside of Quimby's Pillow. A ledge at the base provided a nice spot for a break.

Typical scene on the upper part of the trail, which bobs and weaves over a number of bumps before the final climb to the summit.

Ledge slabs on the last steep pitch up the summit cone.

The sign for the summit side path.

The summit is a reward worthy of the long climb.

Fair skies over the Carters.

The summit benchmark, placed in 1958 inside the triangle etched by the 1879 survey party.

One of several iron pins in the summit ledge - perhaps related to a small log building that stood here for a short time in the 1850s.

Southbound AT thru-hikers taking a break.

Presidential view from Moriah.

Looking north to the Mahoosuc Range and beyond to the Maine 4000-footers in the Rangeley area.

The Baldface Range to the SE.

North & South Baldface, Sable and Chandler Mountains.

Ledge-dotted Shelburne Moriah Mountain and its eastern spurs.

East to the mountains around Evans Notch and distant Maine horizons.

View from a northern outlook across from the summit side path. This path has been little-used of late.

The ledge scramble dropping down to the Kenduskeag Trail junction. Tricky in winter.

Important junction with the Appalachian Trail.

The section of the Carter-Moriah Trail from here down to the Stony Brook Trail junction is one of the most scenic walks in the Whites.

Shelburne Moriah and the Bull Brook valley from a perch just a few yards off the trail over ledges.

Looking towards East and West Royce.

The Baldface Range rises from the Wild River Wilderness.

Magical ridge walk.

Looking back to the summit of Mount Moriah.

More ledgy vistas.

Looking NW, with Moriah's summit block up on the right.

And more vistas.

The top of Moriah's south cliffs is one of my favorite spots in the Whites, looking over the Moriah Brook valley and out to the Carter and Baldface Ranges.

This ledgy spur ridge of Moriah was bared by an 1895 forest fire. It's a most rewarding bushwhack destination.

Full view of the Carters.

Peering into the upper Moriah Brook valley.

Looking back at this premier perch.

Farther down the trail, another great spot.

Side view of the ledgy spur.

The Moriah Brook Trail meanders up through there.


Heading down towards the Moriah-Imp col.

View from the first of two lower outlooks, just above the col.

The south cliffs of Moriah.

A closer look. Almost looks like a scene from out West.

The last outlook, just above the Moriah Brook Trail junction.

The 3.6 mile route back down to the Peabody River valley.

The upper half-mile of Stony Brook Trail is fairly steep and rocky. This surprised me, as the last few times I've done this trail I was wearing snowshoes. But good footing prevails the rest of the way.

Crossing of a major branch of Stony Brook. It was smooth sailing from here, and the road walk on the shoulder of Route 16 and Mill Street wasn't bad at all. The trek ended with a crossing of the Peabody River on a public foot/snowmobile bridge, which brought me right back to my car at the powerline.