The Mount Cardigan ski trails in Alexandria, NH are the unsung heroes of backcountry skiing here in the northeast which delivers some classic mountain runs that descend the east side of the Mount Cardigan summit ridge to the AMC’s Cardigan Lodge with a vertical drop of 1,750 feet. There are many different options for all abilities of skiers for both Nordic and Alpine skiing with over 50 miles of trails on the 1,200 acres that the AMC maintains and protects.
These trails are among the most historic runs in New England on the summit of the second highest peak in southern New Hampshire; less than a 2 hour drive from Boston! There is a great 5.5 mile grand tour of Cardigan; via skiing up Duke’s or Alexandria trail, crossing the Mount Cardigan ridge on the Mowglis Trail and then descending down to Cardigan Lodge. And with 35″ of snow at the stake of the lodge there is still lots of great skiing left to do this season! All this information can be found in David Goodman’s Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast guidebook to the 50 classic ski tours in New England and New York.
The Alexandria trail is one of the best and more challenging trails on the mountain with lots of great bends and turns with a grade of 20-25 degrees and a drop of 800 feet in 0.75 mile. This trail was cut in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and designed by Charles Proctor a former Dartmouth College skier and a member of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. This is a prime example of a trail made for skiers by skiers. Linking up from here you can get to the Kimball ski trail which is a great choice for intermediate skiers. The Duke’s Trail on Firescrew is another great ski trail that is framed by beautiful old hardwoods and is about 15 feet wide with a moderate 20-degree pitch with fun S-turns. The top of this trail ends on the Manning Trail on open snowfields that lie just beneath the bald cone of the Firescrew. The reason that it is named the Firescrew is because if the spiraling plume of fire that was seen for miles around when the mountain burned in 1855, which also provides the great open snowfields that we enjoy today! This is also why one of Cardigan’s nickname is “Old Baldy”.
The picture here is of High Cabin, a self-service facility with bunks for 12 on Mt. Cardigan. This was built in 1931 and recently renovated with a woodstove, dry sink, two-burner propane, stove, propane, waste water, pails and a composting toilet. The Seasonal wood stove operates Nov.1-May 31. Up to 15 pieces of firewood per night are available at Cardigan Lodge to be transported to the cabin by your party. At Cardigan there is also camping available as well with primitive campsites, each with space for two tents, a fire ring with grill, and a picnic table, as well as group campsites.
Whether you are a snowshoer, hiker or skier there are lots of great activities to do at Cardigan! Cardigan is open year round with the 2015 full service season at the Lodge is available weekends January 2, 2015 through March 28, 2015; May 29, 2015 through October 17, 2015. There is still lots of availability left for this winter season so please free to call us to help you plan your trip! Cardigan is also a great destination for kids to connect with nature as we also offer our wee-wanderer family expedition programs.
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!
Ben C. & Danielle J.
Appalachian Mountain Club Reservations Specialist & Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center