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27 June 2011

Nothing Fancy - Just a Simple Out and Back Hike to Mt Carrigain

There have been countless trip reports of hikes to Mt. Carrigain via the Signal Ridge Trail.  I'm hesitant to add yet one more report, but here I go doing it anyway!  Since there has been so much written and so many photos posted to various forums and websites, I'll try to keep my narrative brief, and present just a few selected photos.

So, I'll begin by saying that I've recently been hiking to some of my favorite 4K peaks, especially those that I've not visited for a few years.  I'm certain that I'll soon grow tired of these trips down the memory lane and will turn my attention to new explorations.  Regardless, this past Monday (27-Jun) I hiked to Mt. Carrigain.  It was nothing fancy.   The 10 mile round trip trek was done by using the Signal Ridge Trail for both the outbound and the return.

Many readers are familiar with the excellent book written by Steve Smith and Mike Dickerman which is entitled "The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains:  A Guide and History".  Perhaps  the attraction that I and others have for Mt. Carrigain is best summarized by a statement made in that book which reads as follows:
"Few peaks in the White Mountains can match the grandeur, spectacle and beauty of this towering mass, which for more than a century has been revered by climbers.  Viewed from any angle, it is a dominant and easily identified landmark."

I like the mild-mannered way in which the Signal Ridge Trail leads you to the top of Mt. Carrigain.  It's never overly steep, which  I suppose isn't too surprising since most of the route uses old roadbeds that once provided access to the fire warden's cabin just below the summit of the mountain.  This cabin was connected to the outside world via a telephone line strung on poles leading from the base of the mountain.   I'm embarrassed to say that on this and other treks along this trail, I've failed to take notice of the few remaining telephone poles.  I'm told these poles resemble that shown in the photo below.
Besides having a fondness for the trail itself, I also like the picturesque scenes alongside the trail, such as: the cascades along Whiteface Brook at the lower end of the trail; and, the section of trail that passes through an area of tall white birch trees; and also the beaver pond that's located shortly after the Carrigain Notch Trail splits off.

Shown below is a photo collage of the sights mentioned in the paragraph above.
At the beginning of this Blog report, I mentioned that Mt. Carrigain is one of my favorite 4K peaks in the Whites.  Quite honestly, to be more precise, it is Signal Ridge that is the major attraction for me.  In my opinion, it's a worthy destination of its own.  Shown below is the view from Signal Ridge that I most admire.  It's such a unique vista with the massive humps of Vose Spur on the left and the colorful cliffs of Mt. Lowell on your right, and then the Presidential Range stretching out on the horizon.
Of course, once you're on Signal Ridge, then it would seem ridiculous not to spend the extra 15 minutes or so to trek on up to the summit of Mt. Carrigain and climb the tower.
I must say that the biting insects were out in force at the tower location.  In the next photo, the little black dots are actual squadrons of these pests flying in formation as they make ready for their attack!
Although many of the views from the tower are much the same as from Signal Ridge, there are an abundance of additional views from this lofty location.  It's tough to choose favorites among so many outstanding views.  Besides the northeast view toward the Presidential Range, I guess my personal runner-ups would be the vista looking toward the Osceolas, and the view looking back at Signal Ridge.  Both of these views are shown in the next two photos.

If you want to try capturing something a bit unique, then you can get silly (as I did) by taking some snapshots that include part of the tower structure itself.
Okay, with having presented the rather bizarre photos above, perhaps it's time to end this report!

To sum it up, when I looked at my hiking log, it was hard to believe that it had been 6 years since I last hiked to Mt. Carrigain.   Even though my visits to this mountain have been infrequent, it is definitely one of my favorite 4K peaks.   
As the old expression goes, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."


ADDENDUM:  It's almost as pleasurable to look at Mt. Carrigain (and the Carrigain Notch) as it is to hike to its summit.  Shown below is perhaps my favorite view of Mt. Carrigain (and its notch).  The photo was taken from Whitewall Mountain.  


Summerset said...

What a gorgeous day! Thanks for the report - I'll be finishing the 48 on Carrigain this summer.

1HappyHiker said...

Oh wow, Summerset! In my opinion, Carrigain is an awesome choice for finishing your NH48! If at all possible, try to pick a good weather day so that you can relish the full impact of it!


Marty said...


I love the more "artistic "pictures, especially looking through the tower structure. My favorite is looking down the stairs. It's dizzying just looking at the picture and it certainly set off my anxiety about heights! Found myself grabbing for a third point of contact. Thanks for the great report

1HappyHiker said...

Hey Marty . . . thanks for expressing an appreciation of my attempt at generating some “artistic” snapshots! I was trying to get some slightly different photos since the Internet contains such a plethora of excellent images taken from Mt. Carrigain by skilled photographers.
If nothing else, it was a fun experiment! However, I highly suspect that a career in artistic photography is not in my future! :-)


inagenie said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos. My friend and I also plan on finishing our 48 this summer with Carrigain. Your photos offer a preview of what to look for and what to expect.

1HappyHiker said...

Inagenie . . . Thank you for taking a moment to post a comment, and very best wishes to you for a fun day when hiking to Carrigain to finish your NH48!!


Scott said...

Great trip report as always.

It must be something about Carrigain that we all seem to want to complete the NH48. We'll be finishing up the list on July 24th.


1HappyHiker said...

Wow! If you (+ the other folks planning to finish on Carrigain this year) all happen to end up there on the same day, then it sounds like it has potential for being quite a large gathering, and the makings for a terrific celebration party!! :-)


Scott said...

Hey John, we didn't get everyone who commented in on the hike however we did accomplish the goal at hand with Heather and her four legged friend, Kali, obtaining their 4,000 footers as well!
Bill Marcotte and Chris Dailey along with Heather's boyfriend, Eric, joined in too so we were in great company!
Good luck to all who are about to finish

1HappyHiker said...

Scott, you and the rest of your team deserve a huge CONGRATULATION for completing the NH48! I’ve posted a comment on your Blog.