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Trail Conditions

Trip Log


Mt. Carrigain
Livermore, NH

Trailheads, measurements, times, distances, and maps are all approximate and relative to the hike(s) as shown below.
Looking up the Signal Ridge Trail
Looking up the Signal Ridge Trail

Route: Sawyer River Road, Signal Ridge Trail, (Mt. Carrigain), Signal Ridge Trail, Sawyer River Road

After a marathon Tuesday at work, it was time for a day off. With a decent weather forecast, I decided to head to Carrigain.

The Sawyer River Road parking area was empty when I arrived just before the sunrise. Sawyer River Road was fairly well packed by snowmobilers, however I still decided to don my snowshoes for traction. While the 2 mile roadwalk is a bit of a drag, it seemed to go by fairly quickly with the sun rising.

The Signal Ridge Trail was fortunately broken out and in decent shape. While the brooks weren't covered, the crossings were bridged nonetheless. Things brightened up nicely as I reached the flats above Whiteface Brook as the sun cleared the nearby peaks.

While I have found the actual ascent up Signal Ridge to be a grind, it went by relatively easily - perhaps due to the snowcovered trailbed. While things started to drag as I climbed the final part of Signal Ridge, it was a beautiful sight to top the ridge and look at a white Mt. Carrigain. The exposed part of the trail was fairly windblown, resulting in the only trailbreaking of the day. While this section of trail is dramatic in the warmer months, I found it to be even more so with the snowcovered slopes dropping off to the northeast.

Once on the summit of Carrigain, I quickly swapped out my baselayer shirt and added some jackets, putting on a show for the grey jays apparently. Once I climbed the tower, one of them decided to dive bomb me, almost taking off my head - and I didn't even have any food out! Though things were starting to cloud up, the views from the summit were nonetheless dramatic. Perhaps the highlight was watching the clouds move away from the Presidentials.

Back on the ground, I had a quick sandwich (well, part of a sandwich...I had to toss part of it a few dozen feet away to stop the grey jays from trying to attack me), pulled out my handsaw, and started my descent. While the trail was in decent shape, there were plenty of blowdowns. With plenty of daylight remaining, I was able to remove most of them.

The roadwalk back seemed to drag on forever - boy was I happy to hear the sounds of automobiles as I neared the parking area!

Hike Ratings
Getting To Trailhead: Difficult
Destination: Mt. Carrigain
Length: Difficult
Steepness: Difficult
Navigation: Moderate
Views: Excellent
Crowds: Minimal

Hike Stats
Date Hiked: Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Hike Commenced: 7:04 AM
Parking Elevation: 900'
Destination: Mt. Carrigain
Ascent Commenced: 7:44 AM
Summit Reached: 10:22 AM
Time Elapsed: 02:38
Trailhead Elevation: 1,370'
Summit Elevation: 4,700'
Distance: 5 miles
Vertical Gain: 3,430'
Hike Ended: 1:56 PM
Hike Time Elapsed: 06:52
Hike Distance: 14 miles
Hike Vertical Gain: 4,040'

Signal Ridge Trail trailhead on Sawyer River Road
Signal Ridge Trail trailhead on Sawyer River Road

The windblown Signal Ridge Trail
The windblown Signal Ridge Trail

Looking at Mt. Washington from the Mt. Carrigain summit lookout tower - Click to enlarge
Looking at Mt. Washington from the Mt. Carrigain summit lookout tower

Directions to trailhead: Take Route 302 West from Bartlett to Sawyer River Road. In winter, there is a WMNF fee parking lot located to the left of the closed Sawyer River Road. The Signal Ridge Trail is 2 miles up Sawyer River Road, on the right.

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