Mt. Hale, New Hampshire
If you happen to be up in New Hampshire heading to the Mount Washington Inn for an afternoon adult beverage why not stop at one of the many trailheads and do a quick 4000 footer hike first? Earlier in the day Jayne and I had hiked Mt. Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch, but finished it quickly and wanted something to do before meeting up with my family and some friends at Mount Washington Inn. I suggested that we do a quick hike up Mt. Hale since we had a few hours to spare and the trailhead was along the way. Having previously done Mt. Hale as part of a longer hike I remembered it being a rather quick hike up and didn’t remember it being very difficult so Jayne agreed.
The Hale Brook trailhead parking can be accessed via Zealand Road. We pulled in, paid the National Forest Parking fee, and headed up Hale Brook Trail a little before 2:00PM. Mt. Hale is one of the 48 New Hampshire 4000footers. Coming in at 4054 feet the Hale Brook Trail gains 2300 feet in it’s 2.2 miles to the summit. I guess I had forgotten that it would be pretty steep since the first time I hiked Hale it was at the beginning of a 15 mile hike that day. Oops, sorry Jayne. Truly though, the first 0.8 mile is pretty easy with nice footing. At this point you have to cross Hale Brook. I got a bit distracted by some cool ice right next to the brook and managed to slip and fall hard. At least I didn’t fall into the brook. I got up, dusted myself off and kept going.
In about another half mile you have to cross Hale Brook again. Being higher up in elevation there was more ice around and we took this crossing much slower. As we continued to hike up we encountered some switched backs, more ice, and even some snow along the trail. I could tell we were nearing the summit and turned around to see how Jayne was doing and was pleasantly surprised to see a view of the Presidential Range. With almost all of the leaves off the trees you could see the snow covered, bare peaks. Being that the summit of Hale is surrounded by evergreen trees and you get no view it was nice to stop and enjoy this on the way up.
Hale’s summit use to be the site of a fire tower. The tower was used from 1929 until it was officially removed from service in 1950. It remained standing until 1972. Today all that remains there are some concrete footings. Now there is a large cairn at the summit. It was only fitting that we found a mini pumpkin on the summit cairn since we were hiking on Halloween. It defiantly brought a smile to both of our faces. I climbed up on top of the cairn to see if I could get a better look out to other mountains, but there still wasn’t much of a view.
The way down went pretty smoothly. We were a little concerned with some of the ice along the trail that we might have to slow down a significant amount. Jayne also wasn’t wearing waterproof boots so she had to be careful on the brook crossings and some of the mud along the trail. Our whole round trip only took us 2.5 hours. Granted, I was setting a pretty decent pace, but 2.5 hours for a 4000footer is pretty good. Even with our fast pace we missed out meeting my family and friends at the hotel. This of course did not stop us from still going and getting Irish Coffees to help warm us up after our day outside. It was no tricks and all treats on this Halloween hike.