4000 Footer Club

Mt Monroe
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Elevation:   5384 feet
Summited:  September 10, 2015
Distance:    9.3 miles
Difficulty:    Moderate to Strenuous
Views:         Many, Continuous along Ridge
Route:         Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail → Lakes Of The Clouds Hut → Crawford Path → Mt. Monroe Loop →
                     Crawford Path → Mt. Eisenhower Trail → Crfawford Path → Highland Center

   After being picked up by another club member at the Highland Center, we gathered at the lower parking lot of the Cog Railway. From there, the trail begins at the upper right hand corner of the lot. It starts with an easy stroll along the Ammonoosuc River for about a mile. At .7 miles, you will cross the Monroe River and at 1.1 miles you will reach Gem Pool, a large, beautiful pool at the foot of a cascade. A quick break here is a good idea because the next half will be a bit different. The second mile of the hike up to the Lakes Of The Clouds Hut is steep and rough and potentially dangerous in wet weather. Along the way, do not forget to look behind you as some of the better views are at your back. There are also more falls, cascades and pools to stop at along the way to catch your breath. At 1.3 miles, there is an outlook, reached by steep side path about 80 yards long, that shows an excellent view of the gorge. Today, it was marked by a sapling with a chunk missing. Eventually, around two miles in, the trees start getting smaller, the grade starts to ease and you come up to a sign, barely legible, that has the word TRAIL carved into it. You're almost there. You catch a view of the Hut. This day, as I was approaching the hut, I could hear the strum of a guitar. As I got closer I could hear a young woman singing "Closer To The Heart", by Rush, and doing a good job at it. We took a fifteen minute break here, to get a bite to eat. It took about two and a half hours to hike to the hut with about four stops along the way, about 5 minutes each.

   From the hut we started on our way via the Crawford Path, which at this point is the AT, Appalachian Trail, towards the base of Monroe. Shortly the trailhead for the Monroe Loop Trail approached us. It wasn't long until we started climbing the 350 feet to the summit. After a short quick ascend it leveled off to absolute stunning views of the Lakes and the Hut below. We enjoyed high cloud cover that day after a quick scare of being engulfed in a cloud ourselves at the Hut. Thankfully, the winds from the other side of the mountain were keeping things clear. After a short walk upon the plateau, we came upon a rock with a steel spike in it, presumably the summit. Not to long after that a fantastic view of the sag below. An enjoyable walk down the other side of Monroe and the grassy area on the way to Franklin was a break for my feet. Meeting back up with the Crawford path, it passes up and over Mount Franklin, where I think a summit cairn atop a rock marks the summit. At 2 miles it reaches the base of Eisenhower. We didn't pay attention here and ended up on the wrong path, but noticed not too long before we turned around, a few minutes lost. That's all. The Eisenhower loop starts by a stagnant pond at the base of the mountain and climbs steadily for a quarter of a mile levels off and reaches the summit at .4 miles. The descent involves a few switchbacks. The Crawford Path joins again from the left. The trail descends and crosses a dry riverbed then climbs moderately until you reach the cone of Mount Pierce and the junction of the Webster Cliff Trail. Mistake number two, we didn't summit Pierce while we were right there. We headed down the path as the weather was getting wetter. You soon enter the scrub and before you know it, you're in the woods again. From here, it's a rather boring 3 mile hike back to the parking lot of the Highland Center.