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About


Mt. Surprise, Mt. Moriah, North Carter Mountain, Middle Carter Mountain, South Carter Mountain
Gorham, NH, Shelburne, NH, Bean's Purchase, NH, Green's Grant, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail on the way to Mt. Surprise
Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail on the way to Mt. Surprise

Route: Carter Moriah Trail

Despite having hiked Mt. Moriah the previous weekend, I was once again heading up the Carter-Moriah Trail. Starting a few hours after a mild snowstorm, everything was coated in fresh powder. Due to still-unfrozen ground, as well as minimal snowpack, we donned light traction for the ascent, rather than snowshoes.

Above the scenic ledges of Mt. Surprise, we soon hit some nasty blue and black ice sections on the subsequent scrambles. Nearing Mt. Moriah, we entered the clouds - no views from the summit for us on this day.

Beyond Mt. Moriah, snow depths increased - however, due to previous barebooters, the footbed was not well suited for snowshoeing. Dropping in elevation, we soon had views once again from the scenic ledges between Moriah and the Stony Brook Trail junction.

The next section of trail was new to me. Shortly after the Stony Brook junction, the trail began a series of ups and downs as it approached another set of scenic ledges. After another few ups and downs, we reached the junction with the Imp Shelter spur. Beyond here, we were dealing with unbroken trail.

Trail conditions were messy - some thawed areas, some postholed areas, some blue ice, and many hidden bogwalks. Upon reaching the steeps to North Carter, we were confronted with numerous ice covered ledge scrambles, as well as many rock crevases covered in unconsolidated snow. Finally topping out at North Carter, we were way behind schedule.

Like the section between the Imp Shelter and North Carter, the trail hadn't been touched between North and Middle Carter. Underneath drifts of powder were plenty of postholes. The sun set as we neared Middle Carter, resulting in some subtle, but nice colors. Beyond Middle Carter, once again untravelled, we put on our headlamps and tried to keep a decent pace, despite the challenging conditions.

Reaching South Carter in the dark, we took a snack break and prepared for the long descent. Upon reaching Zeta Pass, we saw footprints for the first time since the Imp Shelter - a welcome sight. In addition, due to the heavy use of the trail, snow depths were at a minimum, ensuring faster walking. Arriving at the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead, we were happy to be done with this much longer than expected hike.


Hike Ratings
Getting To Trailhead: Easy
Destination: Mt. Surprise
Length: Moderate
Steepness: Moderate
Navigation: Easy
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Moderate
Destination: Mt. Moriah
Length: Moderate
Steepness: Very Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Minimal (due to weather)
Crowds: Moderate
Destination: North Carter Mountain
Length: Difficult
Steepness: Very Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Minimal
Destination: Middle Carter Mountain
Length: Very Difficult
Steepness: Very Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Minimal
Destination: South Carter Mountain
Length: Very Difficult
Steepness: Very Difficult
Navigation: Easy
Views: Minimal (due to time of day)
Crowds: Minimal


Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Sunday, December 6, 2009
Hike Commenced: 7:38 AM
Parking Elevation: 790'
Destination: Mt. Moriah
Ascent Commenced: 7:38 AM
Summit Reached: 11:39 AM
Time Elapsed: 04:01
Trailhead Elevation: 790'
Summit Elevation: 4,049'
Distance: 4.5 miles
Vertical Gain: 3,558'
Destination: North Carter Mountain
Ascent Commenced: 12:00 PM
Summit Reached: 3:39 PM
Time Elapsed: 03:39
Trailhead Elevation: 4,049'
Summit Elevation: 4,530'
Distance: 3.7 miles
Vertical Gain: 1,723'
Destination: Middle Carter Mountain
Ascent Commenced: 3:44 PM
Summit Reached: 4:28 PM
Time Elapsed: 00:44
Trailhead Elevation: 4,530'
Summit Elevation: 4,610'
Distance: 0.9 miles
Vertical Gain: 210'
Destination: South Carter Mountain
Ascent Commenced: 4:28 PM
Summit Reached: 5:31 PM
Time Elapsed: 01:03
Trailhead Elevation: 790'
Summit Elevation: 4,049'
Distance: 1.3 miles
Vertical Gain: 415'
Hike Ended: 7:48 PM
Hike Time Elapsed: 12:10
Hike Distance: 15 miles
Hike Vertical Gain: 5,966'


The Carter Moriah Trail trailhead on Bangor Street
The Carter Moriah Trail trailhead on Bangor Street

Looking at the Presidentials from the ledges below the Mt. Surprise summit - Click to enlarge
Looking at the Presidentials from the ledges below the Mt. Surprise summit

Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail near the summit of Mt. Moriah
Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail near the summit of Mt. Moriah

Looking into the clouds from Mt. Moriah - Click to enlarge
Looking into the clouds from Mt. Moriah

Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail between the Stony Brook and Imp Shelter junctions
Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail between the Stony Brook and Imp Shelter junctions

Looking into the Wild River Wilderness from near the summit of North Carter - Click to enlarge
Looking into the Wild River Wilderness from near the summit of North Carter

Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail between North and Middle Carter
Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail between North and Middle Carter

Looking north from near the summit of Middle Carter, with Mt. Moriah in the far distance - Click to enlarge
Looking north from near the summit of Middle Carter, with Mt. Moriah in the far distance

Looking north from near the summit of Middle Carter, with Mt. Moriah in the far distance - Click to enlarge
Subtle sunset colors as seen from near the summit of Middle Carter

Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail between Middle Carter and South Carter
Looking up the Carter Moriah Trail between Middle Carter and South Carter

Darkness on South Carter - Click to enlarge
Darkness on South Carter

Topographic map of Mt. Surprise, Mt. Moriah, North Carter Mountain, Middle Carter Mountain, South Carter Mountain - Click to enlarge


Directions to trailhead: Take Route 16 North to Gorham, then take US 2 East. Just after crossing the river, take a right onto Bangor Street. Trailhead is at the end of this street on the left. There is limited parking at the trailhead.

Back to Mt. Surprise Profile
Back to Mt. Moriah Profile
Back to North Carter Mountain Profile
Back to Middle Carter Mountain Profile
Back to South Carter Mountain Profile




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