|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Set aside two days for this shuttle hike across two iconic White Mountain National Forest ridgelines: you'll crest five 4,000-foot peaks, gain over 7,300 feet of elevation, and spend the night at a classic Appalachian Mountain Club hut at Carter Notch (reservations required). After dropping a shuttle car at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (in the shadow of Mount Washington), begin hiking from the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead (about 3.8 miles up the road). Soon after leaving the state route, pick up the Imp Trail South near the beginning of a 4.3-mile, 2,800-foot climb up Middle Carter Mountain.
Traveling south along the Carter Moriah Trail (also the Appalachian Trail), the route wanders up and down Carter Range peaks on a mostly tree-covered path with limited views. Approaching Carter Dome, the route affords overlooks east to Mount Washington and Tuckerman's Ravine, as well as back north across the Carter Range itself. After 8 miles, begin a steep descent to Carter Notch and shelter for the night.
Day 2 begins with a stiff, 1,100-foot climb up Wildcat Mountain; at the summit, take in views east back to Carter Dome before a second wooded ridgeline trek through the Carter Range. Upon reaching Wildcat Mountain Ski Resort, descend to Pinkham Notch on green and blue ski trails. Summer hikers may opt to continue down the Wildcat Ridge Trail on the descent to NH 16 and Pinkham Notch.
Note: This is a strenuous hike all year long, but winter hikers should be prepared for difficult and icy trail conditions. Crampons are strongly recommended.
GUIDEBOOK White Mountain Guide, Centennial Edition ($25, amcstore.outdoors.org) includes extensive planning info and maps.
PERMITS Recreation Pass, $5/week per car. White MountainNational Forest Office: (603) 536-6100, fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain/passes. Reserve a spot in Carter Notch Hut up to 60 days in advance. Self-service (Jan. 1 to May 29, Sept. 10 to Dec. 31) $43/night (non-members). Full-service (includes meals and bedding) $106/night. (617) 523-0655; outdoors.org/lodging.
SEASON Winter is key for solitude—and a stay in the fire-warmed hut ensures a toasty night—but navigation and conditions can be tough. In summer, this high route is easy to follow. Check for conditions at fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain.
Ragged Mountain Equipment
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Lahout’s Country Clothing
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