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How to Hike Mount Morgan and Percival Loop Trail in New Hampshire

Are you looking for an incredible hike in the New Hampshire. The Morgan and Percival Loop Trail just north of Squam Lake is one of the most fun hikes in the New Hampshire with a ladder, a cave to crawl through and amazing views of the lakes of New Hampshire.

While Mount Percival and and Morgan aren’t in the higher peaks of the White Mountains, in our opinion, this is one of the best hiking trails in New Hampshire. We’ve started hiking this trail once a year and our teens continue enjoying the trail every time.

In this post you will see exactly what to expect when hiking the Mount Morgan and Mount Percival loop trail, as well as some general hiking information about New Hampshire.

You can find more hikes in New Hampshire here: 11 Best Hikes in the White Mountains.

Going through the caves on Mount Percival

Quick Overview of the Morgan Percival Loop

You can see a quick overview of the loop trail below or scroll down for complete details of this hike. Note that the hiking distance is 6.5 miles (not 5.5 like listed in All Trails).

Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Length: 3-5 hours

This is a moderate to challenging hike with a few steep sections on the climb up and a few challenging climbing sections depending on whether you choose to take the ladder or climb through the caves.

We recommend hiking this in a clockwise direction by hiking up to Mount Morgan. The trail up to Morgan has a few steep sections. Right before the summit of Mount Morgan NH, you have the option of climbing the ladder or hiking around to the summit.

After enjoying the views from the summit of Morgan (the best views are from the ledge below the summit) continue across to Mount Percival. This summit also offers wonderful views out across Squam Lake and Winnepesauke. From Percival you can take either the caves or the cliff trail. The Cave trail is more challenging with some rock scrambling but it is one of the more fun boulder caves NH has to offer.

Once you get below the caves and cliff, the trail descends to the road with a few steep section but mostly a gradualy downhill.

Hiking the Ladder on the Morgan and Percival Loop Trail

Map of the Morgan and Percival Loop Trail

You can see the hiking route in the map below. Note that there are several option at the start and end of the trail, making it easy to park at the Mount Morgan parking lot or the Mount Percival parking lot. The loop connects here via the Morse Trail.

Morgan and Percival Loop Map
Morgan and Percival Loop Map

Things to Know About the Mount Morgan and Percival Loop Trail

Below you can see a few of the mmost important things to know before setting off to hike Percival and Morgan.

Mount Morgan and Percival Loop Parking

The Morgan and Percival Loop trail is a popular hiking route and the parking often fills up by mid-morning. Start by looking for parking in the Mount Morgan Trailhead Parking lot. This lot tends to fill up first. You can not park on the road and make sure to follow posted signs.

If the Mount Morgan Parking lot is full, drive further east on 113 and look on the left for the Mount Percival parking lot. This lot can also fill up, so try to arrive early in the day to avoid not finding a parking spot.

Morgan and Percival Loop Trail: Percival Parking

Best Time of Year to Hike Morgan and Percival

We’ve hiked the Percival and Morgan loop in fall, summer and winter and enjoyed it everytime! Fall and summer are the best months to hike this loop. In the spring the trail can become very muddy and is sometimes closed. You can see more about whether the trail is open at the Squam Lake Association.

If you are hiking this loop in the winter, use extra caution, especially in the caves and consider hiking down the cliff trail.

See more about winter hiking.

Safety on Morgan and Percival

There are two important things to note about safety on the trail. First, there are a few sections of this trail that involve climbing/scrambling. If you are not comfortable with climbing and drop offs, there are a few ways to hike around these sections. This can be more difficult in the winter when there is ice.

The other thing to note is that this trail has several sections that are hard to follow. We’ve gotten off the trail a few times accidently. We were also hiking this loop a few years ago and talked to some college students new to hiking. Later we heard that they had to be rescued after taking the wrong trail and hiking off the back of the mountain.

Keep an eye on the yellow trail markers along the way as the trail is marked the entire way. This is the easiest way to stay on trail, especially when the leaves come down in the fall.

Morgan and Percival Trail in the fall
Morgan and Percival

Which Way should you Hike the Morgan and Percival Loop?

You can hike this trail in either direction, but we recommend hiking the route in a clockwise direction. This means you are going up the steep sections on the way to Mount Morgan and up the ladder. Descending through the caves below Percival can be challenging but going up this section doesn’t really make this trail easier.

Is the Morgan Percival hike good for Kids?

This is a fun trail with kids, although young kids will have difficulty on the ladder and in the caves as they are some drop offs. We recommend these parts of the hike for confident kids over 6 years old. Our tweens and teens love this hike.

Morgan and Percival Loop Trail

Can you bring dogs on the Morgan and Percival Trail?

You can bring dogs on these trails as long as your dog is leashed. We do not recommend doing the cave section with your dog. We did this last time and our dog was not happy. There were a few places we had to pass her through. If you are hiking with a dog – take the path around the ladder and take the cliffs instead of caves off the summit of Percival.

Details on the Morgan and Percival Loop Trail

We’ve hiked this trail several times and recount our experience on the trail in the section below.

Every time we’ve hiking the Morgan Percival loop, we’ve parked in the Percival Parking lot. Start on the obvious trail (there is a good information sign here, so make sure to snap a photo of the trail map before heading off.

The first section of the trail is wide and easy walking. Shortly you will see the Morse trail on your left. Take this trail to connect to the Mount Morgan Trail. This trail is much smaller and passes over a bridge before reaching the larger trail going up to Mount Morgan. Turn left here and begin the climb uphill.

Hiking up to Mount Morgan NH

Hiking up to Mount Morgan

The first part of this trail is relatively gradual but increases in steepness as you go. There are several steep but short sections as you contine uphill. About 0.5 miles from the summit of Morgan the trail turns to the right and you will shortly reach the ladder. The ladder is steep and you have to walk from one ladder to the other ladder on the way up. Just above the ladder, you will squeeze through a small cave and make the final climb up to the summit.

If you don’t want to go up the ladder, you can also hike 0.3 miles to the summit. The best views are actually below the summit on a rock ledge that overlooks Squam Lake.

Hiking the ladder up to Mount Morgan

Morgan to Percival

The trail from Morgan to Percival goes through many small ups and downs with a few rocky areas where you will need to scramble. This is the area you are most likely to get off course as there are several spots the trail is hard to follow. Follow the yellow trail markers and if you don’t see a marker – retrace your steps.

The summit of Percival is wide open with a large exposed area. This makes the perfect place for a picnic and these are the best views of the entire hike.

Hiking to the summit of Mount Percival NH

Caves and Cliff Trail

From the summit, you have two options: the cave or the cliff trail.

Caves: the caves are hidden from view directly below the summit. Look for the yellow marks going down the rock off the summit towards the lake. This trail is steep with some true rock scrambling. Use extra caution if you are hiking this in the winter.

On our last hike on this route, several people found this challenging and you can get quite a back up of hikers. Finley and Hadley scrampered around the rocks with no problems!

The final squeeze through the cave is so much fun and from here it is a short distance down to the junction of the other trailhead.

Hiking the caves on Mount Morgan and Mount Percival

The Cliff Trail: This trail is also steep, but much easier than going through the caves. You can also take this trail down and explore the caves from the bottom if you prefer.

From the bottom of the caves and cliff, the trail continues downhill moderately steeply with a few steep sections before leveling out towards the bottom before returning to the parking lot. On our first hike of this loop trail, we ended up hiking out in the dark as we weren’t planning to do the whole loop and were slowed down by winter conditions. Freja loved hiking out with a headlamp – which is a good idea to bring with you on this trail.

Note: there are a few places on the last part of the trail where it is easy to get off the route – follow the yellow markers and you will be fine!

Morgan and Percival Loop Trail

Common Questions about Hiking Mount Morgan and Percival Loop

How long is the Mount Morgan and Percival loop trail?

The loop trail is approximately 6.5 miles in length if you hike both Mount Morgan and Mount Percival.

What is the difficulty level of the hike?

The hike is considered moderately challenging with some steep and rocky sections.

Are dogs allowed on the trail?

Yes, dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash, and owners should clean up after them. Avoid the cave section if hiking with a dog.

Is there a fee for parking at the trailhead?

There is no fee to park in either parking lot.

Looking for more hikes in New Hampshire? Check out all our NH Guides.

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