South Carter by Fred Shirley

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.

In the midst of the Carter-Moriah Range, South Carter Mountain (4,430'), fails to provide any views from its wooded peak, but offers hikers the opportunity to explore the beauty of a typical high-elevation White Mountain boreal forest.

Suggested Routes
Moderate-Strenuous: South Carter, located between the Zeta Pass and Middle Carter Mountain, has a wooded summit marked by a sign right on the Carter-Moriah Trail. Hikers can best access this area via the Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail to the Carter Dome Trail, a moderate to strenuous trip that is rewarded by terrific views further along the Carter-Moriah Trail.

Trip Planning
The AMC’s self-service Carter Notch Hut is located at 3288 ft. at the junction of the Carter-Moriah and Nineteen-Mile Brook Trails (3.4 miles south of the South Carter summit). The hut is open year-round.

The AMC’s Imp Campsite is located 2.5 miles north of Middle Carter’s summit just on the Imp Shelter spur trail, just off the Carter-Moriah trail.

The AMC’s Hiker Shuttle stops at the 19 Mile Brook Trailhead, giving hikers access to The Highland Center and the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

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 South Carter
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 South Carter 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.

Additional Resources

White Mountain Guide Online - Free! AMC's Top 10 4,000-Footer Foliage Hikes

Photo by Fred Shirley