Elevation - 5,384
Posted Distance: 7.2 Miles
Our Time: 7 Hours (with lengthy break)
We made the extended trip to the White Mountains on a weekend get away and decided to take try out hand at our first 5000 footer.
Mount Munroe is accessible from a handful of different access points, all of which are also used to access Mount Washington. So expect people! As we've primarily (exclusively) hiked in Baxter Park we were not accustomed to the foot traffic. It is crazy and not the peaceful natural outing we were used to.
We took the Ammonousuc Ravine Trail, which starts at Marshfield Station and climbs to the Lakes of the Clouds hut. We stayed in North Conway and left our hotel in t-shirt and shorts. The weather in the mountains, however, was drastically different. Mount Washington is well known (albeit no to us) for it's constantly changing weather conditions. I fortunately had a jacket in the car, but Laura went to the gift shop and bought a sweatshirt. Both were worn for the entire hike. It was that cold.
The walk is nothing but inclined. There was no "getting to the trail" portion. You start going up and keep going. There is a ravine that you cross a few times and at one point a waterfall that is quite nice. About 2 miles in, there was a guide turning people around who were under dressed. It was apparently quite a bit colder as you approached the bare rock.
Fortunately we passed the test. There is a challenging portion to this hike where you are rocking on bare rock on an incline, There is a small stream that runs down this rock and, along with the mistyness, that created some really iffy terrain. It was problematic on the way up and more difficult on the way down where we had to be very careful. This section arguably took longer coming back.
It is, however, the start of some very nice views down the mountain, and to the left, of Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in the white mountains (6000+ feet).
Another half mile of steep climb and you reach Lake of the Clouds Hut, an overnight cottage available to anyone who reserves it ahead of time. This hut is the forking point to Mount Washinton, which was the goal for most hikers on the trail. Left to Washington (and other peaks) Right to Munroe (and other peaks). They also serve warm meals, which on a this cold day was something Laura couldn't resist. The wind, by the way, was crazy. It was gusting up to 80 MpH and the guides were strongly suggesting no one continue their climb to Washington. However Munroe was up for grabs. So after a rest we walked on.
The hike to Munroe is totally exposed and the first (false) peak is clearly in view from Lake of the clouds. With the wind almost blowing us off our feat, we slowly made our way up the to the top of Munroe.
The views from Munroe were, in all honesty, not much better than from the hut. The .4 mile ascent was a simple point of pride. Hikers could continue on, 2.4 miles, to Franklin from this point.
But it was too cold and windy for shenanigans. We turned around for our walk down which, included, another stop at the hut. Here, many hikers were told that they could now attempt Washington, which was met with glee for all.
This was a nice hike. The trail starting right at the base of the mountain made the hike shorter and easier than some previous ones, despite the added elevation. It is one of the most popular ways to get to Mt. Washington, so expect a lot of people. There's a decent 9.2 mile loop here that starts and ends at Marshfield Station with Mount Washington as the focal point.
I look forward to returning to the White Mountains, but I will try to stay farther away from Mount Washington and the Appalachian trail on my next visit.