Member Trip report

Mount Carrigain Hike


Trip Report/Photos from shep5

Featured Photo

On Saturday, April 13th, I drove up to Bartlett to hike Mount Carrigain.  The skies were pretty dark and gloomy until I drove through Franconia Notch where it was much brighter to the north.  By the time that I drove through Bretton Woods, much of the Presidential Range was in the clouds, but Mount Eisenhower was clear...and to the south the Twins were in and out of the clouds.  In any case, it was looking promising with a warm day in store (forecast to be in the mid to upper 50's).

I arrived at the parking lot at the base of Sawyer River Road (off of Route 302) at about 7AM.  I quickly got ready and set off at about 7:10 wearing microspikes.  As the road is closed in winter, I walked the 2 miles up to the trailhead.  There were already snowmobiles racing up and down the road...ah, the smell of gasoline in the morning!  I reached the Signal Ridge Trail at 7:50 and started up the trail.  For the most part, hiking this section of trail was fairly packed, but I did posthole up to my knees in a few spots.  I was carrying snowshoes, but it didn't seem like it was bad enough to warrant changing my traction.  The trail grade was pretty easy as it meandered through the woods and along the Whiteface Brook.  After about 30 minutes the trail left this brook and the trail headed west until it met up with the Carrigain Brook crossing.  With all the water rushing down the other brook, I thought this might be a challenging crossing.  It wasn't and I was able to rock hop across it.  After crossing the brook, the tracks followed the old section of trail that has now been by-passed.  In following this, I never passed the junction for the Carrigain Notch Trail.  This wasn't a big deal, since I had been on this before in the winter.  The trail crossed another side brook before starting a more aggressive and persistent climb.  The snowpack was much more firm as I climbed and I didn't posthole any longer.  By 9:30 I was starting to get views of Mt. Lowell, which dominates the eastern side of Carrigain Notch.  After a further hour of climbing I reached the view along the trail.  Here I could see Stairs Mountain along with Attitash Ski Area and the Moats.  I finally reached the open ridgeline by 11:30.  It was still overcast, but the clouds were slowly lifting.  I had a good view of the summit of Mt. Carrigain and the notch below, but the Presidential, Willey and Twin Ranges were still cloud-covered.  I made my way along the Signal Ridge and followed this as the trail descended back into the woods and headed to the northwest before making a final climb to the top.  I reached the summit tower of Mount Carrigain (4700') at noon.  The clouds had enveloped the summit again and I initially had no views.  I climbed up the viewing platform and hung out for conditions to clear.  It took about 10 minutes, but it begain to periodically clear and finally it held.  The views back across Signal Ridge were wonderful and views down into the Pemigewasset Wilderness were slowly clearing.

After about 15 minutes I decided to start back by backtracking the way I came.  I had had the summit to myself, but halfway over to the open ridgeline, I finally ran into three other hikers.  Upon reaching the open ridge again, I took a short break as things were continuing to clear.  The Hancocks and the Willeys were now cloud-free.  After my break, I dropped back into the woods and started my descent back.  This went well and as I reached the views along the trail, there was now blue skies.  I crossed the Carrigain Brook again at 2PM.  As it was getting quite warm, the snow cover seemed to be getting less stable and was postholing periodically again.  I finally emerged back out on the Sawyer River Road at 3:15 and back to the parking lot by 4PM.

Despite the overcast clouds, it turned out to be a pretty nice day.  I was surprised that I only saw 5 other hikers all day.  I guess with the additional road walk, hikers aren't eager to do this in the off-season.  Still, Mount Carrigain holds a special place to me, as it was my final 48th peak years ago...and of course the views from the ridge and summit platform are normally sweeping.

Total mileage and elevation gain:  14.0 miles with approximately 3850 feet in cumulative elevation gain.

  There are 30 photos in Album (Note: Move mouse pointer over larger pic and click on NEXT for better viewing)

shep5 Posted Apr 14, 2019 at 9:14 PM

Thanks, Billy. I was alone on the ridge. I do have a GorillaPod (which is very handy), but wasn't carrying it for this hike. I just wedged my camera in some pine branches and set the timer.

BillyB1976 Posted Apr 14, 2019 at 8:54 PM

Cool pictures. For the picture of you standing, did someone take the picture, do you have a tripod, or is the camera on the ground/rock?

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