Moose Mountain All Over Again – November 3, 2022

So last Sunday I was again at loose ends, and needed to take a walk in the woods. Looking at the trails in the neighborhood I saw one over in Willoughby State Forest that looked interesting. That’s the same state land where Wheeler Mountain is, and the trail I hiked last July. The name of this one was Wheeler Pond Trail, and it goes up the north side of Moose Mountain.

I arrived at the trailhead later in the morning, around 10:30AM. There were a couple of cars there, but plenty of  room for the Jeep. I loaded up the day pack and headed across the bridge and up the trail.

All of the leaves are off the trees now, and that makes it difficult to actually see the trail. Leaves obscure it- rocks, roots, holes and the like are hidden, and this can make for some interesting footing both uphill and down. Wheeler Pond Trail started out as a woods trail, but quickly transitioned into a much steeper rock scramble. 

At about the half mile mark, you come upon a sign indicating Moose Ledge off to the right, where there’s a nice view of Wheeler Pond. The trail continues in the other direction to the summit.

The rock scrambling continued for another half mile or so, and then the ground leveled out somewhat as I neared the summit. There was a large puddle up there on the plateau- not nearly large enough to call a pond. 

Things were starting to look familiar as I reached the signpost marking the summit. I was pretty sure I had been here before.

Seeing as the hike had only been a bit over a mile so far, and aside from the pond vista not much in the way of views, I decided to continue along Moose Mountain Trail to the south and visit the Lake Willoughby Overlook, about a mile away.

So down the trail I went, descending from Moose Mountain over boulders similar to those crossed coming up. It was deja vu all over again as I moved along, and when I came to the signage showing the way to the overlook, I was positive that I’d been there before.

I’d visited this very overlook a few years ago with Youngest Son, though that time we came in from the south via Mt. Hor. We checked out the overlook and then hoofed it out and back to Moose Mountain. 

Well, I was there again- might as well check out the views. The quarter mile trail out to the ledge is fairly flat, and then dips down onto the cliffs. The area is not large, nor the view expansive, but we make do with what we get in the NEK. I like the warning sign on the way out onto the rocks. The crevasses underfoot are impressive.

From the overlook you can see not only Willoughby Lake, but Bald and Haystack Mountains, along with the western cliffs of Mt. Pisgah. Very scenic.

I ate my lunch sitting on the cliff, and then began the journey back to the Wheeler Pond Trailhead, climbing Moose Mountain for the second time that day. I suppose I could claim two summits on this walk, but will settle for the one, #19. We’ll make the 20th for the season on a different day. This one ended up being a 5 mile walk with about 1300 feet of elevation gain, and took just under three hours to complete.

I’ll be looking to grab #20 before the month is out. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Thanks for dropping by!

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