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Hiking in NH: Mt. Cardigan

Not yesterday, but the Sunday before, the guys and I (four of us this time), set out to climb Mount Cardigan in Orange, NH. Initially, as mentioned in the Pawtuckaway post, we’d intended this to be our goal by the end of the season, but we felt up for the challenge!

We set out bright and early. Well, at least the early part. The forecast called for rain in the morning, and right it was. The ride was a long one, some 1.5 hrs from Manchester, and there were times when the rain was quite heavy. Thankfully, by the time we arrived, it had stopped, leaving us a cool 70°F day, perfect for hiking.

We took the West Ridge trail up. It was steep from the get-go, there was no messing around. The parking lot’s location, some ways in on a dirt road, had dispensed with the level parts. The rocks had started to dry, but it was still a little slippery in spots, especially on the alternate route we picked for the way down.

Having reached the summit at 3,155 ft above sea level in “record time” (ha!, but we were cruising, and were surprised it only took an hour at most), we were met with an inauspicious reward; the morning rain had created quite the cloud cover / fog bank…

With our early start though, there was no rush, so we sat down to eat some trail mix, drink water, and wait it out a bit. Good decision as only minutes later, the sun started to break thru and literally rolled the fog up into clouds with defined edges. It was quite amazing to watch.

And the views were worth the wait…

We then proceeded back down a bit on the same trail before cutting across the side of the mountain. The skinny path meandered thru the most beautiful green moss-covered woods before ascending again to the neighboring South Peak at 2,864 ft. By this time, the clouds were all white and fluffy, and we had the most spectacular view of where we’d just been…

As well as gorgeous views, like these…

The way down via the South Ridge trail required some caution as the rocks along this route were slick, the incline perhaps a tad steeper, and the drop-offs into the woods below impressive.

Needless to say, we all made it down safely, though Scott concluded he needed new boots. ;)

Planning to do some hiking in NH? This book, focused on the southern half of the state, has been indispensable to us…

Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide, 3rd: AMC’s Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in Southern New Hampshire, including Monadnock, Cardigan,…


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