For this hike, I was going to take a new route to Moriah. I would take the Stoney Brook Trail up to the Carter-Moriah Trail a little over a mile South of Moriah, take that trail to the summit, and return the same way. Stoney Brook is a popular approach in winter (though Carter-Moriah from the North is too), and I had seen a few cars in the lot on my way South the day before. Thus I knew it had been broken out since the last storm, though there was 3" of new snow on the ground in Pinkham Notch in the morning of this hike. But just up the notch where the trailhead is, there was less than 1" of new snow.
Crossing the bridge just past the trailhead with snowshoes in hand, I was surprised to find not only the mere 1/2-1" of new snow, but there was also a very hard-packed trail underneath. Shrugging to myself, I put the snowshoes on the pack for the moment, figuring I'd be putting them on soon enough anyway.
The early part of Stoney Brook Trail has a couple of footbridges over stream crossings, and an overall gentle grade on old road grades to the main unbridged crossing at 1 mile in. This one had a solid snow bridge across it. Just past this, another road comes in from the right, and the trail hooks a left onto this road and follows it for a while longer (until it basically ceases to look like a road). Here I put on the snowshoes as there was now over 2" of new snow, and I expected it to get a little deeper yet.
|Old woods road down low on Stoney Brook Trail|
|Fresh tracks in a couple inches of snow|
|Not much left to the snowshoe track here!|
|Breaking trail in several inches of snow|
|Beautiful woods in here though, have to love that snow on the trees|
|Sign at the Stoney Brook/Carter-Moriah Trail junction|
|Looks like some traffic to/from the South on Carter-Moriah Trail yesterday|
|A large trail-side boulder coated in a thin coating of snow|
|Wintry wonderland on the Carter-Moriah Trail|
|Not much visibility on these ledges|
|Trail junction just below the summit of Moriah - the Appalachian Trail bypasses the summit via the Kenduskeag Trail|
|View from Moriah...|
|In clear weather, you have great views from Moriah, including the Northern Presidentials (picture from Nov. 10, 2012).|
The descent, as is often the case in winter, was fast, even in the drifted section of Stoney Brook Trail. A few spots on the ridge had drifted back in again since I headed up earlier, but only a minor amount. I did my best throughout my descent to break out the other half of the trail (the spaces between footprints) for those coming later, but with a couple more inches of snow likely falling in the late afternoon and evening, who knows how much re-breaking was needed come Monday morning. With the lightly falling snow and soft trailbed, it was definitely a nice descent, and in what seemed like no time at all I was back at my car with only one hike left to finish the Winter 4000-Footers!
|Rimed + Snowed-on trees near the Moriah summit spur|
|Lots of snow up near the summit here|
Peaks: Moriah (4049', NH4K)
Trails: Stoney Brook Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail
Mileage: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 3400 feet
Book Time: 6hr 40min