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Great Hikes: Mount Morgan and Mount Percival Loop

Squam Lake from Mt Morgan
Squam Lake from Mt Morgan

Mount Morgan (2220′) and Mount Percival (2212′) overlook Squam Lake in southern New Hampshire on the southern border of the White Mountain National Forest. These two small mountains make a popular loop hike, great for kids, with good scrambles and expansive views. Save this one for a sunny day and you won’t be disappointed.

There are four trails that make up this easy to follow loop hike, which is 5.1 miles in length with 1550 feet of elevation gain. The best way to hike the loop is clockwise, along the following trails (listed in order).

  • Mt Morgan Trail
  • Crawford Ridgepole Trail
  • Mt Percival Trail
  • Morse Trail

The Mt Morgan Trail leaves from a trail head parking lot off NH 113, just opposite the East and West Rattlesnake Mountains, another very popular hiking destination, which also has fantastic views of Squam Lake. See The White Mountain Guide for driving directions.

Ladders on Mt Morgan. An optional bypass trail is also available
Ladders on Mt Morgan. An optional bypass trail is also available

The trail climbs through open forest, arriving at a set of wooden ladders, that you can use to climb up to a viewpoint over the lake. (These ladders are entirely optional and you can bypass them by hiking up the Mt Morgan Trail to the same viewpoint.) The ladders lead to a small cave that you need to climb through, followed by a short scramble over open ledge, but are not recommended for people who have a fear of heights or tight spaces. I wouldn’t recommend climbing down the ladders.

The viewless summit of Mt Morgan is just a short side trail
The viewless summit of Mt Morgan is just a short side trail

Once you arrive at the view-point, the views of the lake and surrounding mountains are expansive, with a large open ledge that makes a great place to picnic or rest in the sun. The true summit of Mt Morgan is just footsteps away on a short side trail.

Philip on the summit of Mt Percival
Philip on the summit of Mt Percival

Next, take the well-signed Crawford-Ridgepole trail from Mt Morgan to an even large open ledge on Mt Percival. Percival makes an even nice lunch spot than Morgan.

View of Mt Morgan from Mt Percival
View of Mt Morgan from Mt Percival

Descend via the well-graded Mt Percival Trail to the Morse Trail, a short trail that returns you to the parking lot at the base of Mt Morgan.

Morgan and Percival Loop (Click for Map and GPX on Caltopo.com)
Morgan and Percival Loop (Click for Map and GPX on Caltopo.com)

The Morgan-Percival Loop is an excellent day hike, and a great introduction to the pleasures of hiking the southern half of the White Mountain National Forest.

Total Distance: 5.1 miles w/1550′ of elevation gain.


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2 comments

  1. What timing! I was thinking of doing this hike this coming weekend.

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