Mount Moosilauke via Beaver Brook

Mountain:  Mt. Moosilauke (4802')
Trails:  Beaver Brook Trail, Benton Trail, Appalachian Trail
Region:  NH - Central West  
White Mountain National Forest, Moosilauke Region
Location:  Benton, NH
Rating:  Difficult  
Features:  Summit, views, cascades, brook, 4000-footer
Distance:  7.6 miles  
Elevation Gain:  3100 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 6:18   Typical: 6:30  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 9:00   Typical: 9:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  08/10/2002 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  01/25/2008  
Weather:  About 80 degrees, humid
Author:  Webmaster
Companion:  Tom S.

Route Summary   

Follow Beaver Brook Trail for 3.8 miles all the way to the summit of Mount Moosilauke and descend using the same route.

  • Start on Beaver Brook Trail, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail.
  • Head up the very steep path alongside the beautiful Beaver Brook Cascades.
  • After 1.5 miles, a spur trail leads right (in 80 yards) to the Beaver Brook Shelter.
  • Continue straight up Beaver Brook Trail and after 0.4 mile, bear right to stay on Beaver Brook Trail while Asquam Ridge Trail goes left.
  • After another 1.5 miles, during which the trail skirts just below Mt. Blue's summit, you will reach the junction with Benton Trail.
  • Bear left/straight to follow Benton Trail which is also Beaver Brook Trail which is also the Appalachian Trail.
  • Follow this combined trail for 0.4 to achieve the summit of Mt. Moosilauke.
  • Return via the same route, bearing right at the junction with Benton Trail, and later turning left upon meeting Asquam Ridge Trail.

Place         Split
Beaver Brook (AT) Trailhead (1870') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Beaver Brook Shelter (3750') 1.5 1.5 1:36 1:36
Jct. Beaver Brook Trail (AT)/Asquam-Ridge Trail (4050') 0.4 1.9 0:21 1:57
Jct. Beaver Brook Trail (AT)/Benton Trail (AT) (4550') 1.5 3.4 1:12 3:09
Mt. Moosilauke summit (4802') 0.4 3.8 0:16 3:25
Jct. Beaver Brook Trail (AT)/Benton Trail (AT) (4550') 1.9 5.7 1:10 4:35
Beaver Brook Shelter (3750') 0.4 6.1 0:17 4:52
Beaver Brook (AT) Trailhead (1870') 1.5 7.6 1:26 6:18



Map of hike route to Mount Moosilauke (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

Beaver Brook Trail is one of many approaches to Mount Moosilauke; it is part of the Appalachian Trail (AT) which is why I chose to do this challenging hike on such a hot, humid day (about 80 degrees) - I wanted to surprise a friend who was hiking the AT. I knew she would be descending this trail at some point during the day so I loaded my pack up with junk food for her and her AT trail mates. Since undertaking the AT in March, she kept commenting on all the "trail angels" that left food along the trail for the thru-hikers. Unfortunately, the farther north they got, the less "angels" they encountered so I decided to do my part to show some northern hospitality.

The trail was very steep for the first 1.5 miles as it ran up along beside Beaver Brook Cascades. There were hand rungs, and railroad ties bolted into steeply sloping ledges to form staircases, to assist in the climb. The pretty stream and cascades provided a ready excuse to stop and rest and enjoy the scenery. Looking back, there were a few glimpses out to the mountains, including a view of Mount Lafayette's peak was which nicely illuminated by the sun.

Beaver Brook Cascades (photo by Webmaster)

I did this hike with my neighbor who was kind enough to carry the cookies in his pack - mine was stuffed full and would have resulted in crushed cookies if I had forced them into my pack. The care package consisted of oreo cookies, chocolate chip cookies, raspberry licorice, jelly beans, and chocolate candy. When hiking the AT, everyone goes by trail names instead of real names. My friend's trail name was "Not Here" and her hiking companion went by "Ripple". And basically every thru-hiker knows every other thru-hiker in the vicinity.

This trail was lightly traveled but the first guy we met coming down was obviously a thru-hiker. I asked him if he knew where Not Here or Ripple were. Much to the surprise of my neighbor, who thought this random guy wouldn't know my friend, especially by that name, the hiker told us that her and Ripple were about 20 minutes behind him.

We continued laboring up the steep terrain and when we got through the worst of it, we decided to take a little break. Then another thru-hiker came down the path and I asked her if she knew where Ripple or Not Here was. She looked surprised and told us that she was Ripple. I informed her that we had food for her and Not Here so she sat down and we visited. Not Here was only a few minutes behind her. It was fun relaxing and listening to their tales while they appreciatively dug into the junk food. Their friend Spot, a "repeat offender" (having hiked the entire AT multiple times), joined us also. Two thru-hikers from Pennsylvania stopped briefly to visit and partake of some of the goodies.

After the ATers continued on their descent (and then an ascent over another mountain), we resumed our climb and shortly reached the spur trail leading to Beaver Brook Shelter where many thru-hikers spend a night. By this point the steepness had eased a bit and later turned into a more moderate grade. The upper part of the trail seemed darn easy compared to the terrain we started off with.

View from the summit of Mt. Moosilauke (photo by Webmaster)

At one point on the trail, we looked up to see a big, field-covered, peak. This could only be Mount Moosilauke but it looked depressingly far away. From this point, the cairns looked like tiny shrubs. However, looks were deceiving; only half an hour later, we had reached the summit. There were 360-degree views. We could see Franconia Ridge, South Peak of Moosilauke, the Connecticut River, Vermont, and more. Several towns were also visible including Lincoln and Haverhill.

We got to the summit at 3:20 p.m. and at this point there was only about a dozen people there. There is an old, crumbled-down foundation at the top that serves as shelter on colder days but the weather was beautiful, although a bit hazy. The summit was covered with gorgeous fields of golden-reddish grass swaying in the wind and was punctuated by many boulders. Hugging the ground, was a lot of mountain cranberry. There was a raven and a little junco hanging out too. We reluctantly left the summit at about 5:00 p.m. so we could get back to the car before nightfall. I often enjoy hiking the latter part of a trail in the dark, but with the beginning of the trail being so treacherous, I wasn't willing to navigate it with a flashlight.

We were surprised on our descent to find even the upper parts of the trail were steep. We had to take care and go slowly to avoid falling but we still managed to complete the descent about a half hour faster than the ascent. It goes to show how relative everything is: hit us with super steep at the beginning and we are fooled into thinking the remaining, less-steep stuff is actually easy.

Raven on Mt. Moosilauke's summit (photo by Webmaster)

Tom on the summit of Mt. Moosilauke (photo by Webmaster)

View from the summit of Mt. Moosilauke (photo by Webmaster)

AT thru-hikers:  Ripple, Not Here, and Spot (photo by Webmaster)

View from the summit of Mt. Moosilauke (photo by Webmaster)


NH - Central West

  Driving Directions   

The trailhead is located on the west side of Rt.112, in Woodstock, NH, in a parking area in Kinsman Notch.

Note that Beaver Brook Trail leaves from the parking area wheras the Appalachian Trail also continues to the opposite side of the road.


Outhouses at the parking area.

Other Notes   

WMNF Recreational Pass

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

  • $5 per day
  • $30 for a year-long pass
  • $40 for a year for a household

View from Mt. Moosilauke summit to its South Peak (photo by Webmaster)


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