Yesterday was a beautiful day to head up to Carter Notch Hut to stay overnight. The trails around Pinkham Notch are in great shape and most of the trails to the huts are packed down so all that is needed to hike up to the huts is some light traction devices, although yesterday I was fine with just boots.
There are 3 accessible ways to get to Carter Notch, I decided to hike up from 19 Mile Brook trail since it was the most direct and closest to my office here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Although the name of the trail can be a bit deceiving, the hike up to the hut is in fact not 19 miles– it is only 3.8 miles and 1801 feet of climbing. However, it does hold true to its name in that it runs alongside the 19 Mile Brook for most of the hike.
The Wildcat Ridge Trail is 5 miles from Pinkham to hut, and takes about six hours. Plan for an all-day hike as this trail does not get used very often and does not get packed down. Expect a lot of ups and downs once you’ve reached the top of Wildcat. This is not an easy trail and you will need snowshoes in winter all the time and sometimes crampons or microspikes.
Wildcat River Trail is 4.5 miles from the end of Carter Notch Road from the Jackson side it take about three hours and will take longer if not packed down as this trail does not see much use. It is a great ski trail from the road for 3.75 miles; then it gets steep and snowshoes would be better, but a very good skier with climbing skins could ski it.
There are also some great day hikes around Carter Notch hut as well, Carter Dome is a great hike just over a mile from the hut and is one of the 4,000 peaks. Going a bit further to Mt. Height is definitely worth it on a clear day, with 360 degree views of the Presidential Range and looking east towards the Wild River Wilderness and the Baldfaces in Evan’s Notch. Any hiking above the hut snowshoes and crampons are recommended
When you get to the hut expect the friendly caretaker to be there around 5pm, they will be able to give you the tour of the hut, and will start a small fire to help in the process of drying out clothes, and be able to show you how to use the propane stove. Usually the fire will be out by bedtime, so do not depend on it to dry out soaking wet clothing, always bring plenty of warm and dry clothes to change into.
Since the winter is caretaker basis only you will have to pack in your food, but there are plenty of pots and pans to cook with as well as plates and utensils, just please make sure to help out with the cleaning afterwards. The hut is not heated so having a winter sleeping bag is a must, if you have questions regarding what gear to bring on a winter hiking trip please feel free to call us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center.
As always you can check for the latest report from the snow stakes and/or call us here at Pinkham to see what we’re seeing out our windows and for the best trail advice we can give you!
Go on Mount Washington Observatory for the latest weather conditions and be sure to check in with Mount Washington Avalanche Center for avalanche bulletins.
As always you can check AMC Conditions for the latest report from the snow stakes and/or call us here at Pinkham to see what we’re seeing out our windows and for the best trail advice we can give you!
The AMC also offers classes and chapter trips for ice climbing, skiing, snowshoeing winter mountaineering and avalanche classes. All of our programs for the ’14/’15 season can be found on our Activities and Events Page.
For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk. We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make reservations
Please call AMC Lodges and Huts, at (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm.
Happy winter adventuring!
Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center