I’ve been on a 4000 Footer kick for a while, but after four rounds, I’ve let up a bit. I’ve been slowly working on the Terrifying 25 list which is a ton of fun! The goal is to hike 25 trails that are deemed to be “terrifying”. These trails typically include caves to crawl through, steep slabs and ledges to brave, or rickety ladders to scale. There are 20 required trails and then you must pick 5/14 optional trails adding up to 25.
Morgan and Percival are both on the required list for their ladders and caves. It’s a great introduction to this list as the summits are just over 2000 feet high. I took a small group up on a beautiful but extremely humid day.
The trailhead for both Mt Morgan and Percival start in Holderness a few short miles from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and offers plenty of parking with two dirt lots.
The first mile and a half are easy hiking with some elevation gain toward the end. The bugs were fierce on our hike and so was the humidity. We were hoping for some nice winds above treeline.
Shortly after starting you can choose to climb Morgan or Percival first. For those timid on ladders, I recommend going up Morgan first to ascend the ladders rather than having to descend them. There are alternative routes to avoid the ladders and caves if you wish, but that’s what makes it so terrifyingly fun!
Even while being eaten alive, it was hard not to stop frequently to explore all the little things nature has to offer. We found a tree that took large rocks with it when it fell!
I do miss winter (I know, who says that already?) but I did love seeing lots of Ladyslippers along the trail.
The best part of this trail is that you can make your own adventure! You can choose to hit the caves or bypass with some great cliff views. If you are toting a large backpack, are afraid of bats and old hiker bones (I’ll let you find out if I’m lying…), or a friend that you can’t convince to go through you don’t have to explore the caves. You should. Once you summit you can still make your way around to the cliffs to experience it all.
The cave widens up quite a bit in the middle, but the exits are a squeeze. It was nice and cool in there!The first views of the day are gorgeous! Squam Lake takes center stage with Lake Winnipesaukee peeking out as well.
Once atop we joined others that had hiked over from Mt Morgan and were on their second peak of the day. My friend Ted had just received his Master’s degree so I surprised him and entire cake! Yup a delicious chocolate cake fits in a little Type 2!
The hike over to Morgan is a nice little stroll over.
Atop Mount Morgan we bond over a recent online “anti-shorts” thread. Look at those pasty legs!We saw loads of friendly dogs enjoying the day. Most of their owners said they bypassed the ladders and caves with their pooches. I’ve heard other dogs doing just fine.
To descend the ladders (or after them if ascending) you pop into another little cave. This one is noticeably larger than the ones ascending Percival.
I found a nice outlook near the ledges. I love finding unique views a little off trail! We were told by another hiker that the ladders are quite rickety. I tested them out to be sure and they are clearly very stable!
Terrified of ladders? Cake always calms my nerves.
This is a really fantastic loop. If you’re coming from southern NH or Massachusetts the car ride is a blink of an eye. If you’re looking for a hike with great views and a lot of variety (especially for kids) this would be a great pick!
Starting from: Mt Percival Trailhead
Height: Percival 2,212′, Morgan 2,220′
Elevation Gain: 1,575
Mileage: 5.5 miles RT
Book Time: 3:30 (I suggest making a day of it and have a great time- some even take a nap on the summit!)
Last modified: September 1, 2017
This looks like such a fun route!! I’m definitely bringing my son (he’s 11) up there this summer!
I am absolutely packing an entire cake on my next hiking trip. And I might share with my husband and kids, if they’re good… I definitely don’t miss hiking in humidity and with bugs swarming around, but I do really miss hiking in the green. What a beautiful view from the top!
It is beautiful! I recommend buying a shelf stable cake, especially in the summer. Now how do I pack up some ice cream to go with it? 😉