Mount Morgan and Mount Percival

The Mount Morgan and Mount Percival loop is a nice moderate hike with rewarding views of Squam Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee.

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Route Description

0 mi0 miStart at Mt. Morgan Trailhead
1.6 mi1.6 miMount Morgan Trail to Crawford-Ridgepole Trail
0.3 mi1.9 miCrawford-Ridgepole Trail to the summit of Mt. Morgan
0.8 mi2.7 miCrawford-Ridgepole Trail to the summit of Mt. Percival
2.5 mi5.2 miCrawford-Ridgepole Trail to the summit of Mt. Doublehead
0.1 mi5.3 miDoublehead Trail to viewpoint
0.1 mi5.4 miDoublehead Trail back to Crawford-Ridgepole Trail
2.5 mi7.9 miCrawford-Ridgepole Trail back to Mt. Percival
1.7 mi9.6 miMount Percival Trail to Morse Trail
0.5 mi10.1 miMorse Trail to Mount Morgan Trail
0.1 mi10.2 miMount Morgan Trail back to the parking lot

Map

Note: Map mileage does not match stats because Gaia GPS tends to undercount it. Mileage stats were calculated using the White Mountain Guide and Trail Maps.

Hiking Mount Morgan and Mount Percival

Hike Date: November 14, 2020

This loop hike starts at Mt. Morgan trailhead, which has sizable parking lots on both sides of the road. People also park along the side of the road if the lots fill up. Mt. Morgan Trail started out as an easy walk in the woods along a slightly inclined grade. It eventually climbed a steep, but short stretch to gain the ridgeline where we turned right on the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail.

Start of Mount Morgan Trail
Steep section of Mount Morgan Trail

As one of the fun features of this hike, you can choose to bear left at the next juncture and climb some challenging ladders up a rock face to reach Mt. Morgan. Hikers can also reach the summit by staying on the main trail, so it’s always an option to bypass the ladders if they don’t sound like a good time to you. We opted for the ladder route, climbed carefully up, squeezed through the small rock cave at the top, and emerged for our first views of Squam Lake below. Also, just a quick reminder here to wear orange during hunting season – hunters don’t hunt on hiking trails, but it’s best to be bright and be seen!

Climbing the ladders up to Mount Morgan
Trail through a rock cave

Just after the ladders, we reached a large open ledge with great views towards the lakes. After enjoying that for a few moments, we hiked the super short spur trail to the actual summit of Mt. Morgan, which is viewless with a small metal survey marker.

View from Mount Morgan
Summit marker on Mount Morgan

Leaving Mt. Morgan, we continued on the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail toward Mt. Percival. This ridgeline trail was incredibly pleasant to hike. It was beautiful and not too strenuous. It felt like we reached Mt. Percival in no time at all. The summit is marked by both a trail sign and a large cairn on a rocky ledge with sprawling views of Squam Lake. For being so moderate, this hike offers some great rewards in terms of scenery and topography. It’s well worth the effort!

Crawford-Ridgepole Trail
Sign on Mount Percival
Cairn on Mount Percival
View of Squam Lake from Mount Percival

From here, hikers can choose to either descend on Mount Percival Trail back to the parking lot for a 5.2 mile loop or continue on the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail for a longer day and a few more miles. We added those miles and really enjoyed the extra 2.5 miles of trail over Mt. Squam to Mt. Doublehead and back. Immediately past Mt. Percival, it was clear that the trail is much less traveled. It’s still easy to follow, but it feels much more like a wilderness trail than the popular highway of the popular loop. We particularly liked the open rocky sections with some small ponds of collected rainwater on the ridge.

Crawford-Ridgepole Trail past Mount Percival
Pond along Crawford-Ridgepole Trail

Closer to Mt. Doublehead, the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail went through a series of pointless ups and downs (PUDs) that added some elevation gain and made our hike a little more of a workout. When we reached Mt. Doublehead, we dropped a short distance down Doublehead Trail to a viewpoint on a large ledge for lunch. While we ate, the sun somewhat emerged from the cloud cover, shining brightly off the lakes and warming us up just a bit.

View from the lookout on Doublehead Trail

After lunch, we retraced our steps along the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail back to Mt. Percival. There are 2 options for descending from here – the cliff route or the cave route. Facing downhill, the cliff route bears left with the cave route to the right. Always craving more adventure, we headed for the cave route. This trail climbed down a rock jumble of giant boulders so the footing was difficult. It also required the use of your hands at times so it was a fun rock scramble.

The cave is really just an opening beneath some huge boulders of the rock jumble with tiny gaps at either end to enter and exit. It was a pretty tight squeeze that required me to take off my pack, lie down, and shimmy through the small gaps. Check the pictures below to see for yourself and decide if this route is right for you.

Cave entrance
A tight squeeze
Cave exit
Climbing out of the cave

After the cave, the cliff and cave trails merged and we descended on Mount Percival Trail. The first bit dropped steeply from the ridgeline and then the trail returned to a moderate wooded path. We made quick time of the descent and returned to the parking lot via the Morse Trail on mostly flat ground.

Mount Percival Trail

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