The Last Presidential: Mount Monroe

When you think of hiking the last presidential in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, you might think Mount Washington. It is the tallest and most well-known of the bunch. However, for this post and hike, the last presidential for this lady means Mount Monroe.

Mount Monroe, at an elevation of 5,384 feet, is the fourth highest mountain of the 4,000-footers of New Hampshire. It is in the Presidential Range, located just ¼ mile down the road from the Mount Washington Cog Railway. It is probably one of the few hikes where you hike parallel to water almost the entire way.

This hike would be with the usual suspects plus a friend, PJ. The day started off early with a 3-hour drive from Boston to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail parking area located off of Base Station Road in Bretton Woods, NH. It rained most of the drive but cleared up once we hit the parking lot. The cloud cover remained which meant the heat we were expecting had yet to arrive. There was a National Forest Service pop-up tent with a ranger letting people know of what to expect on the day’s hike including the chance of thunderstorms. He even had a pop quiz! What do you do if one hits? Immediately return below the tree line, don’t lie down among the open rock above tree line, and stay flat on the soles of your feet.

With the appropriate gear packed and parking paid, we headed off on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The first 1.5 miles is fairly flat but rocky and with the previous day’s rain, it was muddy and slippery. The flat hike wouldn’t last long. Soon after, we hit very steep, rocky terrain. This would last for another 1.6 miles. Much of it laden with rock steps but a good portion, as you near the summit, just sheer rock which requires some skill, balance, and the occasional scramble. We weren’t the only ones feeling the steepness of the trail. There were a good amount of people on the trail, in both directions many returning home from a stop off at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut the previous night, who were taking breaks every so often. At this point, Chris, PJ, and Milo were a good 10-15 minutes ahead of me. [If you’ve read my previous posts, I like to take it nice and steady.] Once I hit the Forest Protection Area sign, it seemed like a long ¼ mile to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. I was relieved once I saw the hut and went around to meet the boys sitting on the bench. We sat there, catching our breath and took in the gorgeous day. Some of the hikers we passed eventually made it up, with many continuing on to Mount Washington (only 1.8 miles from the Hut). We even encountered an Appalachian Trail hiker named Sir Eats-a-Lot who had been on the trail since March.

After our break, we followed the Crawford Path for 0.1 miles to the Mount Monroe Loop. From there, the summit is only 0.3 miles away. This part was the easy part as the trail was a gradual grade and fairly dry as it was an open summit. Once at the summit, we were only the second group to stick around. There were a pair of men who crept past me but continued on to Mount Eisenhower. The other man on the summit was an older gentleman who seemed to have been there awhile with lots of camera equipment taking in the views. We found a nook just below the summit and made ourselves at home, eating lunch and enjoying the view towards Mt Washington. It definitely was a hot day now as the cloud cover had burnt off at this point and the sun beat down on us.


Family photo on Mount Monroe.

We decided to head down after 30 minutes or so. Good thing too as it started sprinkling and eventually down pouring as we descended Monroe. It was a treacherous descent with so many now soaked rock slabs to maneuver. I did a fair amount of butt sliding and we all took it slow. I was surprised at how many people were still making the trek up! We told them all to be careful as the rain seemed like it wouldn’t let up. I had Milo with me and it definitely didn’t help me as he did not like Chris and PJ leaving him behind with my slow self. The rain eventually let up and the rest of the hike was a bit better with more mud to contend with.


The boys.

From start to end, hiking Mount Monroe is 7-miles roundtrip. It took us about 6.5 hours and could’ve been shorter had it not been for the rain and slippery rocks. It’s certainly a good day hike and could be made longer to include Mount Washington or Mount Eisenhower as many others were doing it. 44 down, 4 to go!

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:
Mount Monroe is a moderate to difficult hike. The first 1.5 miles on Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is fairly easy, flat and rocky while the rest of the hike (1.6 miles) is a bit more difficult with plenty of rock stair climbing and scrambling to contend with. The last 0.3 miles to Mount Monroe’s summit is an easy ascent. Overall, just your typical New England trail conditions. It is a short strenuous hike for humans and dogs alike, maybe slightly easier for your four-legged friend as they have the advantage of four legs. Milo had no trouble with the trail and didn’t look like he was tired after a full day’s hike. Remember to check your dog’s paws and keep them hydrated (water runs along the majority of the trail) on these hot summer hikes!



Into the 20s: Mount Eisenhower and Mount Pierce

This past Saturday brought us to #20 and #21 of the NH 4,000-footers: Mount Eisenhower (4,780 feet) and Mount Pierce (4,310 feet). Both are located in the Presidential Range in the White Mountains and are often combined in a one-day hike. There are two options when bagging the 2 mountains in one hike: The first option is to use one car and park at either the Crawford Connector (Pierce) or Edmands (Eisenhower) parking lots and hike the loop, including the 2.3 miles on the road – about 10 miles. The second option is to use two cars and park one at the Crawford Connector parking lot and continue on to the Edmands parking lot to start at that trailhead – about 8 miles. We opted for the latter (with Chris’ dad joining us) as the additional 2+ mile hike on the trailhead didn’t seem appealing.


Saturday was a gorgeous day for a hike, minimal clouds and high 60s climbing to 70 by midday and we weren’t the only ones who had the same mindset. When we arrived at the Crawford Connector parking lot at 8am, it was packed! We barely got the last parking spot as there were more cars coming in. There was even a park ranger, ready and waiting to ticket those who didn’t have a recreation parking pass or pay the required fee. Once we parked one car, we headed on over to the Edmands parking lot. Again, there were one or two spots left and we were able to snag one. Once we got our butts into gear, we headed off on Edmands Path. It’s a moderate hike and is about 3.3 miles to Eisenhower’s summit. Along the way, we encountered several hikers as well as their dogs. There would be plenty for the rest of the day. As we ascended, we got a chance to see the train climb the Mount Washington Cog Railway. We pretty much kept pace with it on the way to Eisenhower. Once we got to the Crawford Connector intersection, we decided to take a snack break. Several groups came by, as they either headed to the Eisenhower loop or to Mount Monroe. There was an AMC-led group that took a break nearby. The AMC leader wanted to give pets to Milo but for some reason he shied away and hid behind Rob’s bag – a little unusual for him as he loves people. Before too many people we passed on the trail caught up, we made our way to the summit. It was a gorgeous 360-degree view of the surrounding White Mountains including Washington taking a dominant position. As it was a bit windy, and no shelter to shield us from it, we opted to hike down lower and enjoy lunch in a windless, open rock outcropping.



Mount Eisenhower and its summit cairn.

From Mount Eisenhower to Mount Pierce, it is about 1.5 miles on a relatively flat ridgeline – we found a great lunch spot just at the beginning. We basked in the sun and ate our food while we enjoyed the views and oncoming hikers. Once lunch was over, we trucked it to Pierce, encountering muddier trails (and of course, plenty of hikers and dogs). It didn’t take long to reach Pierce. We took our obligatory summit photos with the USGS marker and cairn and decided to make our way to the Mitzpah Spring Hut via the Webster Cliff trail. Why? Because we happened to have an old friend working at the Nauman tent site at Mitzpah Spring Hut for the summer. It’s about 0.8 miles to the hut and boy, was it long, steep and muddy. I was much slower than the rest when getting to the hut but as I neared, I could hear some growling between dogs and thought, oh boy what did Milo do this time? Well when I arrived, lo and behold, I saw another Shiba Inu! And it wasn’t Milo giving his Shibatude, it was Isis. I guess Milo was giving her the funky eye from afar and Isis didn’t like it so she told him. It was a great surprise seeing another Shiba on the trail as we don’t encounter many that hike.


Mount Pierce’s USGS marker.


Cairn on Pierce.

Once at the hut, we took a break, filling our water bottles and making our way to the tent site to see if our friend was around. Unfortunately, she was not so Rob ended up writing a note for her and leaving it at her tent station. We moved onward via the Mitzpah Cutoff (0.7 miles) to get back on the Crawford Path and eventually the Crawford Connector to get back to the car. Compared to Edmands Path, these trails were muddier and more of the typical rocky granite footpath you get in the Whites, so be careful of where you step! No one came out clean on this hike. It was interesting on the descent as we encountered several AMC works carrying supplies up to the hut. If you ever wondered how they get supplies to the hut, well now you know, volunteers get to hoof it up on wooden frames. Each worker had supplies tied boxed up and roped onto a wooden frame (kind of similar to a folded beach chair) on their back. It was top-loaded with the ability for them to hold on to the bottom to help balance the load. It was interesting to see and made me exhausted just looking at them lug those things up.

We eventually made it down Crawford Path/Crawford Connector (2 miles) to the car. I was a bit confused when I encountered the road but Rob whistled and signaled me to cross and keep on the trail. We made it to the parking lot and hopped in the car to head back to the Edmands parking lot to retrieve the other car. As we were driving on the road, we kept commenting on how much longer it seemed and very glad we didn’t opt to hike it with one car in tow. There were a few people walking back and we decided to stop for a pair of boys who had some distance to go to their car. When we asked if they wanted a ride, one of the boys had a look of hesitation on his face while the other was happy to accept. It didn’t take long for them to accept the offer. If it was me, I would’ve hitched a ride to save the time and my feet. Hitchhiking has a bad stigma now versus back a few decades ago. I’d like to see it as fellow hikers helping each other out. On our short car ride, we found out they were hiking all the NH 4K’s too, with 19 under their belt so far. It seems like a lot of people are doing that and not a surprise as the Whites are such a popular hiking destination. Once you have the experience of one, the itch to get them all grows.

Well, all in all, it was a great hike on a beautiful day. I don’t think I have to tell you that I highly suggest this hike as there are plenty of people we encountered that would say the same.

[Fun Facts: Mount Eisenhower is formerly named Mount Pleasant but was renamed after President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Mount Pierce is formerly called Mount Clinton for 19th century governor DeWitt Clinton of New York but was renamed after President Franklin Pierce, the only president born in New Hampshire.]


32px-Black_Paw.svg  A Dog’s Walk

It is a dog-friendly hike for dogs of all sizes. On our hike, we encountered many on the trail from a Bernese Mountain dog to another Shiba Inu!

Edmands Path to the summit of Eisenhower is a fairly easy to moderate hike with little rocks and roots to navigate on and around. There is a scramble here and there but do-able for dogs of all sizes. From Eisenhower to Pierce, the ridgeline walk between peaks is easy, as is the climb to Pierce’s summit. Though, the ridgeline on a sunny day can quickly take its toll. From Pierce to the Mitzpah Spring Hut and eventually back to the Crawford Connector parking lot is a moderate to difficult hike down as there are much more rocks (and mud at the time) to navigate. Be sure to give your pooch breaks and keep them hydrated (you can refill at Mitzpah Spring Hut)!  And as always, keep in mind their ability as you don’t want to wear them out!



© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2017