|View of the Kancamagus Highway from the summit of North Moat Mountain|
The trailhead for North Moat Mountain is the same as the trailhead to Diana's Bath which is a popular hiking destination in all seasons. I'm under the impression that the parking lot could fill up easily during some of the busier winter weekends. It most certainly does in the summer.
Here's the map-
View North Moat Mountain Hiking Map in a larger map
There are a few options for hiking North Moat Mountain. Most people elected to do an out-and-back type of hike using the North Moat Mountain Trail. This is a direct ascent of the mountain but unfortunately it misses a lot of the views you could see on the Red Ridge Trail. If you chose to hike the out and back route (this would be the upper segment on the above map), it is 8.4 miles total. This trail was marked pretty well, even in the winter.
The other option which we found to be more adventurous was the Red Ridge-North Moat Mountain Trail Loop which is shown above on the map. This ends up being 10 miles exactly. Route finding was more difficult on the Red Ridge trail however. I've been told that even in the summer, the trail can be quite ambiguous in some sections. However the views from the almost bare ridgeline were phenomenal and well worth the occasional delays of looking for those blazes.
|Red Ridge Trail, looking towards Middle Moat Mountain|
Taking a left and crossing the stream on to Red Ridge Trail, the route gains and looses little elevation as it circles behind White Horse Ledge. The turn-off to White Horse is 0.8 mile further. There is an option of hiking to the top of White Horse and a sign marks the route. It gently descends again until coming to an unplowed access road which is 0.7 miles from the White Horse Turnoff.
|Summit of North Moat Mountain visible from Red Ridge Trail|
While it is tempting to simply follow the ridgeline up, keep a good eye out for small cairns and trail markers- it is very ambiguous and the trail enters into the pines again before the turn-off. This was difficult to find in the winter.
|Mt Chocorua from the ledges|
Turning to the left (South), will take yo uto Middle Moat Mountain which is also great. We skipped this and headed up North Moat. It is about 1.1 miles to the summit from here. The trail actually dips down a few hundred feet before ascending the final 600ft to the summit. This was tricky as the steep trail was very icy in some sections. Microspikes served us well on the scramble to the summit.
North Moat Mountain stands at an interesting point in the White Mountains where you can see everything on the Kancamagus and everything around North Conway at the same time. It was a unique view and I don't think there's any other mountain with such an opportunity. The cameras were on overtime.
|The Kancamagus Highway|
|North Conway Valley|
What a perfect way to kick off the 2013-2014 winter hiking season! Looking forward to more hikes in the Whites.
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