Black Mountain: A Hidden Gem in the Shadow of Mt. Moosilauke
With friends in NH for the weekend, I was looking for a short hike with some nice views and not too many crowds. The 52 With a View hiking list has been my go to for shorter hikes, and it definitely delivered with Black Mountain! The New England Waterfalls website has been great for both the NH48 and the 52WAV when it comes to difficulty and crowd levels, and I'm definitely glad I consulted it on this one!
The day started with breakfast at Windy Ridge Orchard in Haverhill, NH. It was my first time there, and I loved it! The cider doughnuts amazing, and we all had a great time wandering around the orchard. We picked Black Mtn because it was so close to Windy Ridge. When we pulled up the road there was a hiker sign pointing to a very rough, narrow dirt road. We drove up it to find a small parking lot at the trailhead. There are two trails up Black Mtn, the Chippewa trail which is a bit more difficult but with amazing views on the cliffs just below the summit, and the Black Mtn trail which is longer but more gentle climbing the other side of the mountain. We decided on the more casual Black Mtn trail.
The beginning of the hike was on an old logging road that climbed at a very gentle grade for about a mile. From there it was a wide hiking trail that got a bit steeper, but there was still good footing. As we moseyed up the mountain we took in the beautiful foliage around us. Lucy loved tramping through the fallen leaves, playing in the little piles around the trail. It was a gorgeous fall day with a crisp autumn chill in the air.
When we got to the summit we were greeted with amazing views of Mt. Moosilauke standing before us. It looked massive from here, with its peaks and valleys towering before us. It's funny to think that Moosilauke can be considered one of the easiest 4,000 footers when ascending Gorge Brook trail, but here it looked daunting. The valley was a sea of color, but I noticed there was a little bit more brown than last weekend. Peak foliage up here was Tuesday through Friday, so we were just past it. I loved the just past peak colors because the reds stood out more than last weekend filled with lighter yellows and oranges.
We stayed up here for a while sipping some ciders that we bought at the orchard. We could see over to Franconia, with Cannon, the Kinsmans, Liberty, and Flume in the distance. Mt. Lafayette was peaking out above Cannon, and I thought about what a great hike that would have been today. After yesterdays thrilling adventure bushwhacking up the side of Lafayette to The Watcher, I was glad to be hiking something a bit less strenuous. To my left I saw two prominent peaks over the border of Vermont. After some consultation with my maps, my assessment was that they were probably Mt. Ellen and Abraham, two peaks that I'll attempt to conquer in the next few weeks.
In the hour that we sat at the summit, we only saw about ten people summit and pass through. I was surprised at how quiet it was on a beautiful holiday weekend. I knew that on any given 4,000 footer there would be lots of people out, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I was glad we didn't have to deal with the crowds. After hanging out we made the easy descent back to the car. This was a great little hike in Benton for a great view and a quiet summit. It was the perfect level for some of my non-hiking friends, and we all had a great time! My sister was skeptical after I took her up Mt. Liberty for her first hike, but this one was much more enjoyable for all of us. Black Mountain definitely didn't disappoint and I can't wait to come back to ascend the Chippewa trail!
Black Mtn via Black Mountain Trail [4.58 mi, 1320 ft, 3:00].