Mount Cardigan

Bristol, New Hampshire 03222

Mount Cardigan

Mount Cardigan Professional Review and Guide

"A challenging hike to one of the best viewpoints in New Hampshire. The state of New Hampshire's website for Cardigan State Park lists hiking as the only activity in this 5,600-acre park. While backcountry skiers may argue the point, hikers are certainly grateful for the 50 miles of trails that head up and around Mount Cardigan, both in the park and in the adjacent AMC preserve.

The shortest and easiest hike up Mount Cardigan (nicknamed Old Baldy) and its spectacular views is via the West Ridge Trail, which begins from the state park parking area to the west of the mountain. This trip, however, makes a loop over more interesting terrain from the east and the AMC’s Cardigan Lodge, which provides overnight lodging and meals in summer and on fall weekends."

Mount Cardigan Reviews

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Thanksgiving day hike with the whole family before our feast! Great morning hike nice for the more experienced and the inexperienced alike in the group!
First trip with the New England over Forty Hiking Group. Julie was the trail organizer. We had about 8 people show up for this hike at the AMC lodge. I didn't have the right gear, for this one and was very sweaty. Fortunately it was a relatively warm day. Great company spectacular views. Took the easier Holt-Clark trail. Fairly moderate hike with some steep rocky section about the last quarter of the ascent. Beautiful wide open rock face gives excellent 360 degree view. Firetower on top.
I hiked this loop that summits both Firescrew and Cardigan with two friends last weekend, and it was one of the most enjoyable hikes I've done this winter. The trail is a lot of fun, and not too steep for the most part, and the ridge that connects Firescrew to Cardigan was a blast. You get a sense of total exposure while crossing the ridge, yet without it feeling dangerous. We lost the blazes along the manning trail once or twice because of the snow, but easily backtracked. From the ridge to Cardigan we had to do a bit of bushwhacking to reach the summit because there were no more tracks in the snow for us to follow, but it was a lot of fun (even though I often suck waist deep in snow - didn't wear snow shoes - big mistake). Overall, Mount Cardigan's summit provided one of the best views I've seen of New Hampshire so far - rivaled only a few days later by the summit of Mount. Chocorua. Definitely do this hike, you won't regret it!
Great hike but go up the West Ridge Trail instead! Google the trail maps and you'll be glad you did!
Beautiful late summer day on the weekend found lot's of other hikers on the mountain. Trail was easier than the guide suggested partly because conditions have been really dry for the last few weeks in NH. We did the route in about three hours - considerably less than the estimate though we didn't hurry and took a leisurely stop on the summit. This route is very nice but the trail shows the volume of hikers in wide worn sections and many roots. Not the worst I have seen but pretty well worn. We didn't bring our hiking dog but saw many on the summit and didn't see any section of trail that would have posed a challenge for an Aussie Shepard - next time...
Climbed Cardigan from Cardigan Stete Park, upo South Ridge Trail and down West Ridge Trail. This is 700 vertical feet shorter than trails from the AMC lodge. The trail is generally maintained, albeit eroded. There are magnificent views of the barren cone from the south ridge trail, then the baren cone ascent is very exposed with sensational views. The summit is very popular, so do not expect solitude. The whole hike with lunch took a little over 4 hours. I highly reccommend this loop Joel Mandelbaum
We decided on the Holt Trail, which is not for the timid. The trail is challenging, and at this time of year you may have to contend with ice as we did. Without crampons and a comfort level for icy conditions, we would tackle this climb no later than the October timeframe. Due to ice, we had to reroute about 50 yards on the final push to the summit, but eventually we made it back on the trail and made the summit. The views from the summit are fantastic on a clear day! We crossed to Firescrew and descended on the Manning Trail back to the AMC Lodge for a fantastic loop. This hike is not for the timid but is a great challenge for the intermediate hiker. Allow at least 4 hours including a lunch break!
Beautiful views!! I personally loved the last of the hike to the top as it is pretty much sheer rock. I wouldn't rate it as difficult as the rating in the book as no holding was required at all but none the less it is well worth the climb.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1,950 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
4.5 hours
Best spring through fall
Cardigan State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Cardigan, Newfound Lake; AMC Mount Cardigan
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018