Note: For complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide or try our new White Mountain Guide Online.
Mount Carrigain, at 4,700 feet, is one of the highest peaks along the southeastern ridge bordering the Pemigewasset Wilderness Area. An observation tower on Carrigain’s summit provides hikers with a stunning view of the surrounding White Mountains.
Moderate: The most frequently taken route to Carrigain’s summit is by way of the Signal Ridge Trail, a moderate 5-mile hike from the parking lot to the summit.
Strenuous: An ascent on the summit from the northwest can be achieved by following the Desolation Trail from the Carrigain Notch Trail. This trail can be very steep and rough and hikers are advised to be particularly cautious on the descent and/or with heavy packs.
Due to its location in the protected Pemigewasset Wilderness, camping facilities and permissible camping locations are sparse. The closest established campsite is the Sawyer Pond Campsite, located on nearby Sawyer Pond and maintained by the White Mountain National Forest.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Winter Hiking on Mount Carrigain
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Mount Carrigain are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for "Instruction" in AMC's activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping.
Mount Carrigain was named for Philip Carrigain, New Hampshire secretary of state from 1805 to 1810.