Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mount Carrigain via Signal Ridge Trail

It was a cold Saturday morning as I drove to the trailhead. Clouds were clearing and the wind was calming down. I was on my way to Sawyer River Road for a hike to Mount Carrigain (4,700 ft.) by way of the Signal Ridge Trail.

Sunrise on the drive to the trailhead


I pulled into the trailhead parking and found six vehicles already there. By the size of the parking area I assumed this has got to be a popular hiking destination. There were more cars pulling in as I prepared to hit the trail.

Old beaver lodge

A look inside the beaver lodge 

Just after starting my hike I noticed a small tent in the woods and thought it must have been difficult sleeping there with last night's wind. The wind was actually calm now and it was a very pleasant hike along this trail.

Two beaver dams

Trailside icicles 

First view 

Icy trail 

For the first two miles the trail is relatively flat. There was one water obstacle that I had no problem crossing and fortunately there were no icy rocks. As the trail started its climb to Signal Ridge I came across a couple of tricky icy spots. Microspikes were not needed but careful navigation over the ice was necessary.

More ice 

Reaching the the ridgeline I expected an icy blast of wind but there was none. The views were fantastic along the ridge. Clouds were moving in but except for a few high peaks the summits were still in the clear.

Signal Ridge 

Mount Carrigain summit

Observation tower

The top of Mount Carrigain was in full view from Signal Ridge and I could see the trees were frosted with snow. One final push and I was standing on the summit. The first thing I noticed was the immediate change in temperature. It felt very cold. There was an occasional gusty breeze but otherwise calm.

I added another layer, a warmer hat and gloves. The observation tower was covered in rime ice. I took off my pack and climbed the tower for some spectacular views. The icy climb added to the day's adventure. I stayed long enough to get some photos and got back down. My fingers felt frozen down to the bone.

Icy stairs 

Icy tower

Gray Jay waiting in a tree 

...wants a treat

Back down below the tower I grabbed a snack and soon found I was not alone. A Gray Jay was looking for a bite to eat. I had some nuts and shared.


This was not a day for basking on the summit and I started my descent. On the way down many hikers were coming up. As one hiker told me, it was a perfect day for this hike and I had to agree.

Bent tree 

There was one little item I had not been paying attention to and that was my water. The tube from my water bladder froze solid. It was my own fault. Usually I will blow the water back into the bladder in order to clear the tube, not today. Between not drinking much water and not clearing the tube it froze while I was at the summit. But I did have a thermos of hot tea. So the tube stayed frozen all the way back.

Water obstacle easily crossed without getting wet

Fading sun over Pinkham Notch 

Sunset on the drive home

Returning to the parking lot I saw twice as many vehicles as there were from this morning, not surprising with the number of hikers I had seen. The hike to Mount Carrigain was a lot of fun with rewarding views from the summit observation tower. One more bonus, #21 to add to my list of completed 4,000 footers!

Panoramic view from the Mount Carrigain.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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