Carter Notch and the Wildcats

Posted by PeterD
on June 25th, 2011
in Hikes

Imp trail to North Carter and Carter-Moriah (the AT). Overnight at Carter Notch hut, then the Wildcats, finishing at the Joe Dodge Lodge.  Had some beautiful weather.

The first day was a bit ‘agressive’ – the last leg, from Carter-Moriah down to the Carter-notch AMC hut was a bear!  becoming gradual then very steep – really toasted our legs!

We originally planned to start off on the South Imp trail, but then some quick friends on the AMC shuttle suggested the Northern leg, with a lookout on Imp Face – well worth it and HIGHLY recommended.

Also, don’t miss Mt. Hight!  While it doesn’t show up in the 4000′ list, the unobstructed 360 view is well worth the extra time!

Carters and Wildcats, via Imp trail, Carter-Moriah and Wildcat ridge

Dist. Description AT Time
0 From the north trailhead, the Imp Trail starts climbing at a moderate grade and crosses a powerline soon after starting. After crossing Imp Brook after 0.7 miles, it ascends steadily, making a long traverse before turning right to regain the ridge. After a steady climb, it veers right to the top of a cliff with excellent views to the south and west. The trail ascends for a short distance and then makes a sudden short descent to another viewpoint with lesser views but more exposure. The trail passes just south of the highpoint and makes a sidehill traverse with small changes in elevation and crosses several small brooks. At 3.1 miles, it makes a short descent to the junction with the North Carter Trail. 8:25AM 



9:50 AM

3.2 The North Carter Trail starts uphill at a moderate grade, then sometimes angles L. There has been considerable erosion and there are many rocks and roots in the footway.  Trail ends at Carter-Moriah. 10:25 AM
4.4 The Carter-Moriah Trail is part of the Appalachian Trail.   Head L for North Carter Summit or R for Middle and South Carter Summits. 11:20 AM
4.6 summit of North Carter Mountain (4,530 feet). 9.7 11:30 AM 

Lv: 11:50AM

4.8 North Carter Trail junction (North Carter descends right, west, 1.2 miles to Imp Trail).   Trail continues and crosses boggy area, and over many minor knolls with occasional views.   Pass open ledges on Mt. Lethe. 9.9
5.4 Cross wooded summit of Middle Carter Mountain (4,600 feet), and descend to col, then ascend. 10.5 12:20 PM
6.7 Pass over wooded summit of South Carter Mountain (4,458 feet), and descend. 11.8 1:10 PM
7.5 Reach Zeta Pass (3,990 feet). (Carter Dome Trail descends right 1.9 miles to Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail, which leads 1.9 miles to N. 16.)   Water is generally found near path in Zeta Pass.   AT bears left and ascends steeply toward Mt. Hight. 12.6 1:40 PM
8.1 Make a sharp right turn on the open summit of Mt. Hight (4,675 feet). Descend slightly, and continue southwest through scrub growth. 13.2 2:15 PM
8.5 Carter Dome Trail enters from right and rejoins AT  (100 feet beyond, Black Angel Trail descends left, east, to Wild River.)   AT continues ahead, climbing open slope. 13.6 2:45 PM
8.9 Summit of Carter Dome (4,832 feet). (Rainbow Trail descends left, east, to Perkins Notch and Wild River.)   AT descends southwest, first moderately to a side trail to a spring, then very steeply. 14.0 3:00 PM
10.1 Reach junction in Carter Notch where Carter-Moriah Trail ends and AT turns right onto Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail.   Left at junction, Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail passes between Carter Lakes and reaches Carter Notch Hut in 0.1 mile. 15.2 4:20 PM

Day 2

Distance Description AT Time
0 From Hut, follow 19Mile brook trail, passing first the Carter-Moriah trail (headed off to the right). 8:08 AM
.2 Reach height of land (3,388 feet) and junction where Trail turns left onto Wildcat Ridge Trail and ascends steeply on switchbacks.   (19Mile Brook Trail continues ahead, descending in 3.5 miles to NH 16.) 15.4 8:22 AM
.9 Reach Peak A of Wildcat Mountain (4,380 feet). Continue south through woods along ridge, cross wooded peaks B and C (both 4,272 feet), and descend over many humps to Wildcat Col. Begin ascent of Peak D. 16.1 9:10 AM
2.9 Swing around northern end of Peak D (4,063 feet), passing wooden observation platform with views of Tuckerman (left) and Huntington (right) ravines on Mt. Washington, as well as northern Presidential Range. (The Wildcat Mountain gondola terminal building is 0.1 mile beyond, with open area for hikers. When in operation, the gondola descends northwest to NH 16. Also, any number of ski trails may be descended to NH 16.)   AT continues southwest on ridge. 18.1 10:40 AM
3.2 Cross summit of Peak E (4,041 feet). Pass over lower Peak E, descend gradually to upper ledges (fine views), then begin an exceptionally steep decent, requiring extra care. Pass over middle and lower ledges, and continue descent at a more moderate grade. 18.4
5.0 Reach junction where Trail turns right onto Lost Pond Trail. (Ahead, Wildcat Ridge Trail descends 0.1 mile to NH 16 at Glen Ellis Falls.) Follow Trail around eastern edge of Lost Pond, and descend gradually to Ellis River. Where Square Ledge Trail bears right, AT turns left across small marsh on wooden bridge. 20.2


Reach NH 16 at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on left and end of section. 21.1


Appalachian Trail(data from


On the Carter-Moriah trail, looking down the last (very steep!) section to get to the Carter Notch AMC hut (and dinner!)


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