Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hiking Middle and South Carters

The morning was cool but not the frigid temps of this past week and it actually felt quite comfortable. Clouds were moving in but there was ample sunshine as I drove toward Pinkham Notch. This would be a loop hike and my route today would take me up the south branch of the Imp Trail to North Carter Trail then south on the Carter-Moriah Trail to Zeta Pass and down the Carter Dome and Nineteen Mile Brook Trails.

Clouds move in during the drive to the trailhead

Camp Dodge

North Carter Trail Junction

I parked at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead and there was plenty of parking at 7:30am. The first part of my hike would take me down Route 16 to Camp Dodge. There is a very well-defined packed trail through Camp Dodge that leads to the Imp Trail. As I began my climb I put on the microspikes for some added traction but it could have been barebooted and the trail was firm enough to prevent postholing.

Large clump of snow about to drop

Easy under blowdown

Another easy under

While I was taking a break at the North Carter Trailhead I met the first two hikers of the day. We chatted as I finished my snack and then I moved out ahead of them. It was another nicely packed path to the Carter-Moriah Trail. I turned south and headed for Middle Carter Mountain.

Carter-Moriah Trail Junction

North Carter Mountain

Dark clouds over the Carters

There was a steady wind blowing across the Carter Moriah Range but the temperature was tolerable and the sunshine felt even better. The snow was starting to loosen up so I put on my snowshoes and it was nice to get that extra weight off my back.

Adams and Madison

Northeast view

As I made my way up Middle Carter the views of the Presidentials were spectacular. High dark clouds were rolling in but there was never any precipitation and the mountains were always in the clear. I'm not one for sitting or standing around in the wind so I kept moving past the summit and on to South Carter.

I saw the only two hikers, and their dog, that I would see on the Carter-Moriah Trail. The trail was narrow and I had the snowshoes on so I stepped aside and let them pass. We spoke briefly then went on our way.

Summit of South Carter Mountain

Once again I reached another summit with no views. At least the trees blocked the wind so I took a short break and ate my peanut butter sandwich. From here the trail was all downhill and I started my descent.

Zeta Pass

Nineteen Mile Brook Trail junction

The snowshoes stayed on until I reached Zeta Pass trail junction. Other hikers coming up from the Carter Dome Trail said they wouldn't be necessary from here on out. I would be able to increase my pace by swapping the snowshoes for microspikes so I made the change.

Posthole with a wet bottom

Rare open water on Nineteen Mile Brook

Nineteen Mile Brook underneath snow and ice

End of the trail...the loop is complete

The trail was hard packed and it was a quick trip to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail and smooth going all the way back to the trailhead parking lot. The loop was complete. The trail conditions and weather turned out to be better than I anticipated. Today's hike added #24 and #25 to my list of completed 4,000 footers.

Panoramic view from Middle Carter Mountain

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Hi Don,
    I'm planning on doing the same route on Sunday. Though I have been given a (really vague) description of the shortcut through Camp Dodge, I'm wondering how obvious the shortcut is? Mostly, I'm concerned that the snow coming through today and tomorrow could cover the tracks and cause me a bit of confusion.

    1. Hi Jen,
      This was my first time going through Camp Dodge and I was wondering the same thing but there was a well-beaten path. The trail goes straight through Camp Dodge and enters the woods. The only place I hesitated was when I reached the Imp Trail, the path I was on kept going straight up into a clearing, not sure what is up there. I turned right onto what I thought was the Imp Trail, saw the blazes and knew I was on the right path. We've had 12-18" of new snow. Good luck and have fun! ~Don

  2. Jen,

    Did you end up breaking out the Imp trail last Sunday? I had planned to go Saturday but it was still unbroken, so I did 19 mile to Carter Dome instead.


  3. Hi Liz,
    Sorry for the late response. Never did get to the Carters. I looked at the weather and saw that the following Tuesday, March 18th, was going to be fabulous and switched my day off. I'm so glad that I did! I went up Madison and had a bluebird day with no wind. What a great way to end winter.
    My winter-Carters will have to wait until next winter.