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10 September 2013

A Little Loop Hike to Pine Mountain (Gorham, NH)

Pine Mountain (2,405 ft) in Gorham, NH is one of several short hikes in the White Mountains that provide a big reward for little effort.  A hike such as this is especially nice when you have only a limited amount of time available.  Such was the case for me on 09-Sep-2013!

Before getting into the details of my hike, it should be noted that there is a 100-acre tract at the top of Pine Mountain which is known as the Douglas Horton Center.  It is a religious facility operated by the NH Conference of the United Church of Christ.  A portion of the hiking trails pass through this tract of land.  Hikers are welcome, but are requested to avoid disturbing any religious activities (occurring mostly during the summer months) that may be in progress.

My trek to Pine Mountain was done as a loop beginning at the trailhead located on Pinkham B Road.  The outbound leg involved walking a portion of the Pine Mountain Road to join up with the Ledge Trail, and then hiking the full length of that trail, plus a small segment of the Pine Mountain Trail.  For the return leg, I walked the full length of the Pine Mountain Road back to my car.  This entire loop is only 3.5 miles, and it involves an 850 ft elevation gain. 
Map showing the route used for this hike (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
The Ledge Trail leads you to bare rock ledges that are frequently referred to as the south cliffs.   From here there are expansive vistas to the south and west.  I particularly like the view looking toward Pinkham Notch where the peaks in the Carter Range are fully displayed (next photo).
View from Pine Mountain's south cliffs toward Pinkham Notch; Carter Range on left
At the top of the south cliffs is an excellent example of "glacial striation" (long, straight grooves cut into bedrock by rocks embedded in a glacier as it passed over the surface).
Glacial striation on south cliffs area of Pine Mountain
Another view of glacial striation on south cliffs area of Pine Mountain
The top of Pine Mountain is wooded.  The footings from the old fire tower are still there, but that's all there is to see.
Footings from old fire tower that once stood on summit of Pine Mountain
The summit of Pine Mountain is the terminus for both the Ledge Trail and the Pine Mountain Trail.   At the summit, I picked up the Pine Mountain Trail and hiked it northward for a short distance over to Chapel Rock (sometimes referred to as Pulpit Rock).  Along the route are several side paths leading to outlooks on the east side of the trail.  From the northern most outlook is a nice view of Chapel Rock and the Androscoggin Valley (next photo).
Chapel Rock and the Androscoggin Valley as viewed from an outlook along Pine Mtn Trail
There is an attractive boardwalk along the route to Chapel Rock from the summit of Pine Mountain.
Attractive boardwalk along the way to Chapel Rock from the summit of Pine Mountain
At the top of Chapel Rock you will see a cross, which is in-keeping with the religious nature of the Horton Center.
A cross located at top of Chapel Rock
From the top of Chapel Rock there are views looking toward Pinkham Notch that are similar to the vistas seen from the south cliffs area, and from the various outlooks along the Pine Mountain Trail.   However, Chapel Rock is the best spot for a westward view looking down the Moose River Valley in the Randolph area (next photo).
Looking down the Moose River Valley (Randolph area), as viewed from Chapel Rock
To sum it up, Pine Mountain is near the top of my list of short hikes that provide a big reward for little effort.   Although I don't always write a blog report, I often do short hikes such as this to a variety of locations when my time is limited.

FOOTNOTE: A few years ago I hiked to Pine Mountain from the trailhead at the end of Promenade Street in downtown Gorham, NH.  If you're interested in reading my blog report about that trek, click/tap HERE. Also, I have posted a more recent report describing a hike to Pine Mountain using the trail from Promenade Street in Gorham. Click/tap HERE to view that report.


HockeyPuck said...

I stayed at Horton Center as a kid and long before the hiking bug bit me and I've always wanted to return (via foot) to the summit. This report flooded back a ton of memories. Great photos.

At Chapel Rock it was said the image of a monkey could be seen in the hills across the way. I never did see the image.

1HappyHiker said...

It’s good to read that my report brought back some memories of your stay at the Horton Center.

As they say in the real estate business, it’s all about “location, location, location”! Pine Mountain’s location is certainly favorable for some really nice views, particularly from the south cliffs area.

Regarding your comment about seeing the image of a monkey from Chapel Rock, like you, I’ve never been able to see that image.

Lastly, as a result of posting your comments, I discovered your Blog ( Very nice! I’ve added it to my Blogger Reading List.


Karl said...

Hi John!

Great pictures! I know I've heard of the peak with a cross on it before, and this must be the one I've heard of. It sounds like this hike is right up my alley...being short and a bit off the beaten path. I'm adding to my list (which is getting too lone)...

Those Glacial Striations are very cool! I don't think I've seen any that are that straight and continuous before.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Karl,

Thank you for your comments!

Actually, I think this might be a hike that you could do with a child as young as Lylah, especially if you just stayed on the Pine Mountain Road and bypassed the turnoff for Ledge Trail on your way up to the top of Pine Mountain. Once on top (perhaps with only minor assistance from Mom and/or Dad), it might be within Lylah’s ability to reach many of the viewpoints shown in this report. Since activities at the Horton Center have pretty well wound down for the year, the Pine Mountain Road is basically just a wide hiking trail!

And finally, I completely agree with your comments about the glacial striations. I’ve never come across another spot where they are as prominent as those seen at the south cliff area of Pine Mountain.


Greg Parsons said...

Doing this one on Saturday. Thanks John!

1HappyHiker said...

Happy trails, Greg! Enjoy!


Scaling Mountains said...

Are there any views to the north? I'm thinking of trying to catch the northern lights tonight...

1HappyHiker said...

Sorry I was unavailable earlier today to respond to your question. By the time you receive this information it will be of little value to you for your viewing of the northern lights on 12-September. Anyway, for future reference, I don't recall any vistas that are looking due north, but there are some nice views looking northeasterly and northwesterly. And, for what it's worth, the views to the east are excellent.


Anonymous said...

Just did this hike with my old hiking friends. We are all in our sixties with me being the oldest at 65. This was a great hike with great views. We have hiked the White Mountains for the past 45 years and actually will be hiking Tuckerman Ravine next year to celebrate the 1st time we hiked Mount Washington back in 1976. John, thanks for blogging about this. This will not be the only time we do this hike as it is now one of my favorites. You have some great pictures here. Bill DuFresne

1HappyHiker said...

Bill . . . thank you so much for taking time to post a comment to my blog. It’s very gratifying to learn that you and your friends enjoyed the Pine Mountain hike, and to know that my blog played a role in this outing. Best wishes to you and your hiking companions for a wonderful hike next year on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.


Casey said...

Hey John,

I did this hike yesterday and it was amazing! Thanks for sharing.

1HappyHiker said...

Casey . . . many thanks for taking time to let me know that you did the hike, and that you enjoyed it. It’s always gratifying to receive feedback!


Unknown said...

Some good rock climbing up there too!

1HappyHiker said...

Nice! Thanks for posting this.