Few White Mountain hikers realize that there are sections of the White Mountain National Forest far to the west of Mt Moosilauke, as far west as Hannover, New Hampshire on the border with Vermont. Mt Cube is one of these western sections along with Smarts Mountain and Moose Mountain, both on the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail. While these western peaks aren’t 4,000 footers, the trails that run over them are quite pleasant, including their own share of sublime viewpoints.
I revisited Mt Cube recently, a mountain that I’d hiked last in 2009, when I was systematically section hiking the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail. But this time, I approached the peak on the Cross-Rivendell Mt Cube Trail, which is maintained by the students of a regional school.
The bottom of the trail is reached by driving down the gravel topped Baker Road off NH25C to a trailhead sign, which has space for two or maybe three cars on the side of the road. Being April (mud season), the lower stretches of the trail were a bit soggy, but the worst mud was avoidable by rock hopping. Once, I gained some elevation that trail became considerably steeper and rockier, eventually topping out at a series of viewpoints with excellent views of nearby Smarts Mountain and nearby Sunday Mountain.
There I met two locals from the nearby town of Etna, who were eating lunch on the ledges and enjoying the sunny day. We chatted for a while and then I continued on, bushwhacking past an icy section of trail that was protected from the sun by shade.
I popped out a short distance later at treeline, following blue blazes painted on the rock scramble up to the summit. These summit rocks are easy to see from the highway and make Mt Cube look far more formidable than it actually is.
The summit area, looked just as it had in 2009 when I last visited the peak, but it took a little while for me to find the spur trail to the north peak, which was my primary objective on this hike.
I found it by hiking a short distance north from the summit on the AT itself…I’d be ready to give up actually…when I spied the sign to the spur. The trail is easy to follow from this point on but peters out when it arrives at the northern ledges. No matter. Once you arrive at the ledges, there is a vast expanse of open slab that you can explore.
While hiking up Mt Cube is a treat, the views from North Cube take the cake.
Round trip distance – about 5 miles with 1500 feet of elevation gain.