Al Merrill Loop

A quiet, snowy day for a snowshoe.

As I rounded the corner on the broad turn east of Orfordville I could see that the summit of Mount Moosilauke was in the clouds, consistent with the mountain forecast. The NH summit forecast was for clouds, plummeting temperature, and hurricane-force winds, so I’d chosen instead to snowshoe the Al Merrill ski loop on the east side of Mount Moosilauke. It turned out to be an excellent choice – with plenty of untracked powder and not another soul in sight. Read on and be sure to check out the gallery for full-size images and more.

Ridge trail, upper bridge over the Baker River.
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Pico peak

A glorious afternoon snowshoe up to Pico Peak.

I count myself lucky to spend a day snowshoeing through fantabulous deep powder snow in the Green Mountains of Vermont, as I did last Thursday on Worcester Mountain. But I count myself uncommonly lucky to spend another day snowshoeing through spectacular deeper powder snow, exactly one week later, as I did today on Pico Peak in Vermont. Read on, and don’t miss the photo gallery!

The trail up Pico Peak crosses an access road and dives back into the woods in deep snow. Photo by Ken Kaliski.
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Worcester Mountain

A snowshoe hike in to-die-for conditions.

Since the impressive snowfall we received in mid-December, I’ve been dreaming about another opportunity to snowshoe in deep powder through a forest of snow-covered trees. Today my dreams came true, in an absolutely incredible hike on a mountain I’ve never visited before. Read on… and be sure to check out the photo gallery!

On the summit of Worcester Mountain, Vermont.
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Ascutney

A fine hike in fine winter conditions.

The snowstorm five days ago brought us a sudden beginning for winter, laying down deep powder across the mountains and trails. I’ve been out every day to enjoy the snow, prime conditions for skiing and snowshoeing. With bad weather looming for tomorrow and the next day (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), Andy and I set out today to make the most of the snow before the rain spoils it.

Tracks in deep snow on Mount Ascutney’s Windsor Trail.

Although we were interested in a return to Moosilauke, the favorite, the forecast showed morning sun with increasing clouds and I feared we’d simply climb into the clouds. So I selected Ascutney; it has lower elevation but 360-degree long-distance views. And heck, it’s been more than four years since I was last there in winter.

The Windsor Trail is very popular, so it was not surprised to see it broken out. Indeed, it had clearly seen a lot of traffic… skiers, snowshoers, and bare-booters. Andy and I made good time in bare boots for the first half of the climb, passing only three other hikers, and then switched to snowshoes as the snow became deeper and softer.

Andy hiking up Mount Ascutney on a snowy winter day.

Soon we were at the summit, climbing the observation tower. There’s really no way to capture the scene with a mere smartphone camera, but the 360-degree views span nearly all of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Andy surveys the wintry view from Mount Ascutney.

Clouds were moving in, pulling us under an overcast sky… but to the northeast, the summits of Moosilauke, Franconias, and Presidentials were blindingly white in the afternoon sunshine. (No wonder the range is called the White Mountains.)

Our descent was speedy, boot-skiing down the trail, passing only two other hikers. A fine hike indeed. A few more photos in the gallery.

Hike stats: 5.6 miles (per the guidebook), elevation gain 2,800′ (per Apple Watch). 4 hours.

The Windsor Trail begins at Parking in the upper right and ends at the summit (the middle yellow peak).

Enjoy the snow

The day after a snowstorm can be a wonderful thing. Today was bright and sunny, the trees were covered in snow, and the meadows glistened with fresh powder. I had a little time to explore the yard this morning, and I went out snowshoeing with the kids in late afternoon. I’ve added a few photos to the gallery, starting here. Here’s just one:

Andy and Mara snowshoe on the trail around Crossroads in Lyme.

We ended the day in the center of Lyme, outside the home of the Lyme Historians, where they had decorated an antique sleigh and invited families to stop by. It was a photo op not to be missed!

Mara and Andy in an antique sleigh in Lyme NH.