Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Warm Sunshine on Mount Carrigain

There's been a nice stretch of summer weather this week. The last time I visited Mount Carrigain (4,700') was on a cold November day with an icy climb up the observation tower. I've listened to other hikers talk about their cold, snowy hikes to this summit and I thought it would be nice to climb Mount Carrigain on a warm day. With a cool morning start I headed for the trailhead.

 A cool morning in the woods

 Hobblebush turning color

 An arrow points to the correct trail

 Easy water crossing

 Log bridge on a very dry trail

 Trail junction...3.3 miles to the summit

Signal Ridge Trail is very popular and I left early to beat the crowd. I drove through Pinkham Notch as the rising sun was hitting the high summits. The early start paid off and there was plenty of parking available when I got to the trailhead parking lot. A group of hikers was just leaving as I got out to prepare for my hike. I thought I saw a couple of familiar faces in the group whose hiking adventures I follow online but they were soon on their way before I had a chance to talk with them.

 Old beaver dam

Leaves changing color

 First view from the Signal Ridge Trail

More views from Signal Ridge

It felt nice and cool along the trail this morning. The first couple of miles are flat and easy going on the Signal Ridge Trail. Shortly after making the turn at the trail junction I noticed the temperature starting to warm up. I zipped off my pant legs and changed to a short sleeve shirt. The trail started its climb toward Signal Ridge as I continued on.

Mount Lowell

 Photographer's shadow

 Summit observation tower from Signal Ridge

Arriving at the summit

On top of the observation tower

I was leapfrogging with one couple along the way and one other solo hiker passed me. When I got to Signal Ridge the solo hiker had stopped and was taking some photographs of the amazing views. I stopped and we spoke briefly while I also got a few pics. I then shot a video while I traversed the ridge line. This is the spectacular section of the trail. The side to the east dramatically drops off and even though there is heavy vegetation on this slope it would be a very violent tumble if one should get too close to the edge.

Mount Washington

Signal Ridge from the summit of Mount Carrigain

The last half mile went quickly and I was soon on the summit. Once again the early start was paying off and allowed me to have the observation tower to myself for a few minutes. I got plenty of photos and a panoramic video before other hikers started to arrive. I climbed down off the tower and sat in the shade while I ate lunch. The last time I was in this spot I was feeding some gray jays and my fingers were froze to the bone. There were no gray jays today.

On the summit

Desolation Trail...saving this for another day

Moon above the summit of Mount Carrigain

Standing on Signal Ridge

A steady stream of hikers that kept coming and after eating I started my descent. As I made my way down the hikers kept coming and I quickly lost count. Just after passing over Signal Ridge and heading back down into the woods the solo hiker that had passed me on the way up and was taking photos on Signal Ridge and I also saw again on the summit was now about to pass me on the descent. We got to talking and ended up hiking back down together. He had the same camera that I have, a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, in addition he also had two DSLR cameras. He was a wealth of photography knowledge and I picked up some good tips.

Big mushroom

Descending Signal Ridge

A group of mushrooms perched on a rotten log

Back at the beginning after ten miles

After ten miles I was back where I started from at the Signal Ridge Trailhead. The parking lot was full as expected taking into account the number of hikers I had seen on the trail. While it was a nice warm day I would not have wanted it any warmer but it sure felt better than my previous hike to this summit. It was a great day for a semi-solo hike to Mount Carrigain!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Looks like a perfect day for that hike. I hope Helen and I can have decent weather to do a little hiking in the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy. We are leaving this coming weekend for a six week stay. We are in no means in shape to do your kind of hiking, but I hope to give my Nikon D7000 a workout and maybe my body also. Keep up the good blog & photos!

    1. Thanks Lucien! That is one incredible trip that you both are on. Hoping you have some great weather for all those spectacular photo opportunities that await you in the Dolomites!