4K Guidebook Travel

Backpacking a Carter Wildcat Traverse

Section Hikers Backpacking Blog

A Carter Wildcat Traverse is a 2-Three day, 20 mile traverse of the complete Carter and Wildcat Mountain Ranges, together with Mounts Moriah, North Carter, Center Carter, South Carter, Hight, Carter Dome, and Wildcats A, B, C, D, and E. Hikers are handled to unbelievable views of Mt Washington, The Nice Gulf, Mt Jefferson, Adams, and Madison to the west, and the Baldface Vary to the east, on this epic ridge stroll.

Carer Moriah Traverse Map


****/5 out of 5

Distance/Elevation Achieve

20 miles w/7500′ of cumulative elevation achieve

White Mountain 4000 Footers

  • Mt Moriah
  • Center Carter
  • South Carter
  • Carter Dome
  • Wildcat (additionally referred to as Wildcat A)
  • Wildcat D

Beneficial Period

2-Three days


June through October

Permits Required



Backcountry Tenting Laws for the White Mountain Nationwide Forest.

Trailhead Instructions

This journey begins the Carter Moriah Trailhead which has very restricted parking, in a Gorham, NH neighborhood. As a courtesy to the residents, I’d advocate parking on the gravel lot on the close by Libby Memorial Pool (a spring fed pond) on Mill Road, about a mile south of Gorham on Rt 16. Depart the parking zone on Mill Road and switch proper onto a pedestrian bridge in zero.2 miles. Cross the bridge and take a proper onto Bangor Road, which shortly results in the Carter Moriah Trailhead in your left.

Cross the Footbridge and turn rightCross the Footbridge and switch proper

The Pinkham Notch Customer’s middle, on the finish of this hike, is 10 miles south of the Libby Memorial Pool on Rt 16. You’ll be able to drop a second automotive at Pinkham or hitch again to the Libby Memorial Pool.

Path Sequence

The route follows the next trails in sequence. Confer with the AMC White Mountains Path Maps 5-6: Carter-Vary-Evans Notch North Nation-Mahoosuc (2017 ed),  though I’d advocate shopping for the entire AMC White Mountain Waterproof Map Set (2017 ed) moderately than one map at a time, as a result of it’s inexpensive that method. Detailed path descriptions may also be discovered within the AMC White Mountain Information (2017 ed), which is taken into account the climbing bible for the area. Take pictures of the related pages utilizing your telephone for straightforward reference, as an alternative of carrying all the guide with you on hikes.

  • Carter Moriah Path – 13.eight miles
  • Wildcat Ridge Path – four.9 miles
  • Misplaced Pond Path zero.9 miles

Scenic Highlights

The next record supplies cumulative distances on the route to every view or landmark.

  • Mt Moriah Summit – four.5 miles
  • Imp Shelter Spur Path – 6.6 miles
  • North Carter Summit – eight.5 miles
  • Center Carter Summit – 9.1 miles
  • South Carter Summit – 10.four miles
  • Zeta Cross – 11.2 miles
  • Mt Hight Summit – 11.eight miles
  • Carter Dome Summit – 12.6 miles
  • Carter Notch/19 Miles Brook Path Junction – 13.eight miles
  • AMC Carter Notch Hut 13.9 miles
  • Wildcat A Summit -14.eight miles
  • Wildcat D Summit – 16.eight miles
  • Wildcat E Summit – 18.9 miles
  • Misplaced Pond – 19.eight miles

Tenting and Shelter Choices


Pure water sources are plentiful within the White Mountains though you could have to descend to them from ridgelines alongside aspect trails when you run brief. In any case, carry a detailed topographic map with you and don’t depend on the overview map supplied with this journey description to seek out water sources.

I additionally advocate buying the WMNF Wild River Map in Guthook Information’s New England Hiker Smartphone App (IOS, Android) which is a GPS information to all the trails, trailhead, shelters, campsites, views, and water sources within the White Mountains Nationwide Forest. I exploit it on a regular basis and it’s rather more full and present than utilizing the maps bundled with the Gaia Smartphone App.

On the Path

Carter Moriah TrailheadCarter Moriah Trailhead

Start on the Carter Moriah Path which climbs 3250′ ft over four.5 miles to the summit of Mount Moriah. The path is straightforward to comply with, however that is a vital climb so take your time in ascending. The primary dependable water is on the Imp Shelter, so you’ll want to pack sufficient to get there.

Rock ledge on Mt SurpriseRock ledge on Mt Shock

At 2.zero miles you’ll come to a rock ledge generally known as Mt Shock which has a good view of Pine Mountain on the opposite aspect of Rt 16. From this level onward, the path to Moriah switches from forest duff to rock ledge, gaining elevation steeply in locations. Comply with the indicators to the Moriah Summit, a rocky knob with good 360 diploma views.

Mt Moriah Summit SignMt Moriah Summit Signal

Return to the Carter Moriah Path and switch proper. In a few steps, you’ll come to a rock chimney that that you must down-climb. The easiest way I’ve discovered to descend these is to go down backwards, like climbing down a ladder, grabbing hand and footholds as you climb down. On the base of this brief chimney, flip proper, persevering with on the Carter Moriah Path. From right here on out, you’ll be following the route of the Appalachian Path south, marked with white blazes.

The Carter Moriah Trail is marked by cairns above treelineThe Carter Moriah Path is marked by cairns above treeline

The subsequent 1.four miles of path run out and in of krummholz, the stunted and weather-mangled timber that inhabit the alpine zone. Watch out to comply with the rock cairns alongside this part, notably if visibility is dangerous in fog and mist. After a mile, you’ll attain Mount Moriah’s southern ledges. The path as a result of fairly steep right here and could be troublesome to traverse with out butt sliding whether it is moist. From the ledges, you’ll be able to look out throughout the Wild River Wilderness and into the Moriah Brook Gorge, a deep stream valley that boasts wonderful waterfalls, cascades, and swimming holes. The Moriah Brook Path is sort of wild nevertheless and might be onerous to comply with, so that you may need to maintain off and discover it on a subsequent journey. See A Moriah Loop Journey Plan.

The AMC's Imp ShelterThe AMC’s Imp Shelter

Cross the Stony Brook Path junction, strolling over boardwalk to guard the delicate vegetation at your ft. Proceed for zero.7 miles till you attain the spur path for the Imp Shelter and Tent website in your proper. There’s a good stream alongside a brief path behind the shelter in addition to tent platforms the place you possibly can camp. The subsequent positive water is Carter Notch, though a small trickle could also be obtainable in Zeta Cross. Pack additional water, notably in summer time.

Peaks of the Carter RangePeaks of the Carter Vary

From the shelter, hike again to the Carter Moriah Path, turning proper in the direction of the Carters: North, Center, and South. The ascent up North is steep and sometimes moist, however the Center and South Peaks are comparatively straightforward to climb. The peaks are marked with cairns somewhat than indicators, since this space borders a designated Wilderness Space. Whereas the path passes over Center Carter, there’s a brief summit spur path to South Carter on the correct.

Carter DomeCarter Dome

If you attain South Carter, you possibly can simply make out Carter Dome to the southeast. Proceed alongside the Carter Moriah Path for zero.2 miles, passing by means of an space of blown down timber, the casualty of winter storms. These have been cleared by path crews, however there are nonetheless loads of particles alongside the path.

Zeta Cross is a main path junction and a good place to take a relaxation on the country log bench situated there. There’s a very small stream, actually a trickle of water flowing from the moss in addition to the path, however it’s intermittent and could also be dry in summer time. In the event you do want water, you possibly can hike down the Carter Dome Path towards the 19 Mile Brook Path for about a mile, dropping about 1000 ft of elevation earlier than coming to a stream.

The rocky summit of Mt Hight (foreground) has great views of Mt Washington (right) and Carter Dome (left)The rocky summit of Mt Hight (foreground) has nice views of Mt Washington (proper) and Carter Dome (left)

From Zeta Move, proceed alongside the Carter Moriah Path to the summit of Mt Hight, which has the BEST views alongside the route, and a few would argue the White Mountains as a entire. The summit is totally open and you may sit right here for hours in fantastic climate gazing on the surrounding mountains to the past.

Return to the Carter Moriah Path, turning left, in the direction of Carter Dome which is simply zero.four miles away. There isn’t a lot of a view from the summit signal, although it’s the very best peak on the route at 4832′. The enjoyable begins simply previous the summit on the steep and rocky descent into Carter Notch, dropping 1500′ in 1.2 miles. Once you get to the underside, you’ll arrive on the bigger of the 2 Carter Notch Ponds. Flip left for zero.1 mile to succeed in the Carter Notch Hut, and proper to comply with the 19 Mile Brook Path, which climbs for zero.2 miles to the Wildcat Ridge Path.

Once past Carter Dome, the Carter-Moriah Trail plummets down to Carter Notch. As soon as previous Carter Dome, the Carter-Moriah Path plummets right down to Carter Notch.

The AMC’s Carter Notch Hut is a perfect place to spend the night time throughout this traverse should you’d slightly sleep indoors and have your meals catered too. Whereas advance reservations are virtually all the time wanted to remain in a single day, anybody is welcome walk-in through the day to refill their water or purchase snacks. Tenting is forbidden within the Forest Safety Space surrounding the hut, however you possibly can often discover pre-existing campsites, off-trail a methods, on both aspect of the 19 Mile Brook Path or the Wildcat River Path.

The Wildcat Ridge Trail climbs from the shore of the larger Carter Notch pond to the summit of Wildcat MountainThe Wildcat Ridge Path climbs from the shore of the bigger Carter Notch pond to the summit of Wildcat Mountain

Flip left from the 19 Mile Brook Path onto the Wildcat Ridge Path. The primary zero.7 miles of this path achieve 1100′ of elevation because it climbs Wildcat Mountain, which continues to be proven on older maps as Wildcat A. The Wildcat Ridge Path additionally follows the Appalachian Path and is white blazed.

Persevering with south, the Wildcat Ridge Path runs over the B, C, D, and E peaks earlier than descending into Pinkham Notch. Whereas there are dips between every of the next peaks on the path, they’re simpler and shorter than that first climb up Wildcat A. The toughest portion of this path is the descent from the E peak to Pinkham Notch, which drops 2000 ft in 2.1 miles. Be sure to offer your self loads of daylight to hike down this phase of path. I’d additionally advocate avoiding it altogether in moist or wet climate as a result of it travels down steep, unprotected sections of open ledge.

On clear days, you'll be able to see into Tuckerman Ravine, which often holds snow into late July or August.On clear days, you’ll have the ability to see into Tuckerman Ravine, which frequently holds snow into late July or August.

Once you attain the highest of Wildcat (A) Mountain, there’s a high quality view overlooking Carter Notch and the pond under, in your left. Proceed to the B, C, and D summit, passing over lavatory bridges. If you attain Wildcat D, you’ll cross a picket viewing platform on the summit, which has a high-quality view of Mt Washington on the opposite aspect of Pinkham Notch.

Wildcat D and the Ski Area Aid StationWildcat D and the Ski Space Assist Station

Proceed previous the platform right down to the highest of the Wildcat Mountain Ski Space and its gondola chair carry. Cross a small home (the ski space help station), holding it to your left and proceed throughout a collection of open rock ledges to the continuation of the Wildcat Ridge Path because it enters forest. The path begins a gradual descent, then drops steeply down a collection of pitches and open ledge. Whereas this part is an arduous descent, coming down it is much better than climbing up it.

Wooden steps bolted to rock on Wildcat E.Picket steps bolted to rock on Wildcat E.

Once you attain the underside of Wildcat E, flip proper onto the Misplaced Pond Path on the signed path junction. It runs beside Misplaced Pond and an higher part of the Ellis River for zero.eight miles, passing the Sq. Ledge Path in your proper. Whenever you attain a picket bridge, cross the Ellis River, and proceed alongside the boardwalk to Rt 16 and the AMC’s Pinkham Notch Customer’s Middle.

About Philip Werner: Philip is the 36th individual to complete mountaineering and backpacking all the trails within the White Mountain Information (1440 miles). He is additionally completed mountaineering most of the area’s peakbagging lists together with the White Mountain 4000 footers, the 4000 footers in Winter, the Terrifying 25, the RMC 100, and the Trailwrights 72. Philip is a four season backpacking chief for the Appalachian Mountain Membership, a member of the chief committee for the Random Hikers, a Lengthy Path Mentor for Vermont’s Inexperienced Mountain Membership, and a Depart No Hint Grasp Educator. He additionally teaches a number of compass, GPS, and off-trail navigation programs annually, listed on Outside.org.

Security Disclaimer

This journey plan cannot provide you with a warning to each hazard, anticipate your expertise, or limitations. Subsequently, the descriptions of roads, trails, routes, shelters, tent websites, and pure options on this journey plan aren’t representations that a specific place or tour can be protected for you or members of your celebration. Whenever you comply with any of the routes described on SectionHiker.com, you assume duty on your personal security. Beneath regular circumstances, such excursions require the standard consideration to visitors, street and path circumstances, climate, terrain, the capabilities of your celebration, and different elements. All the time examine for present circumstances, obey posted indicators, and Backcountry Tenting and Wilderness Space Laws. Hike Protected and comply with the Hiker duty code. 

Revealed 2018.

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