View Full Version : Wildcat Ridge Trail, Pinkham To Crawford Notch Hut

05-18-2005, 12:56 PM
Some trail descriptions say this trip is more strenuous than the mileage may indicate. I plan to hike in a couple weeks to the hut, then do the Carters on day 2.
The book time from Pinkham to the hut is only something like 5 hours.
How strenuous is this trip?
Thanks in advance.

Mike P.
05-18-2005, 01:11 PM
Doable but lot's of POD's on Ridge & it's a grunt up end of Wildcat E. Some good viewpoints for catching your breath.

If I had never done an overnight carrying a full pack more than 6 miles I'd consider something else but it's not the hardest trip in the Whites either

An early start & taking your time should work fine, might see some lingering snow on the ridge but should not be enough for snowshoes unless more falls.

poison ivy
05-18-2005, 01:17 PM
I'll start off by saying I loved Wildcat Ridge. We hiked up the ridge with full packs in September and it took us seven hours to go from Pinkham to Carter Notch Hut. I am a charter member of the slow hikers club so I'd guess that others generally hike it much faster.

Provided that the ice and snow is gone, Wildcat Ridge isn't terribly difficult. It does have a couple of areas you have to use your hands to climb up and is pretty steep but nothing too terrifying. Once you get up Wildcat E, it's just a straight forward bumpety ridge walk until you head down to the hut.

Your trip plan is definitely do-able... We had a similar itinerary -- we stopped at Carter Notch the first day and then headed over Carter Dome & the Carters for the second night at Imp. Our third day we followed the AT over Moriah and out to Route 2.

- Ivy

David Metsky
05-18-2005, 01:22 PM
Here's a trip report (http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites/wild_carter/index.html) from a similar trip. The first day is tiring, as is the second. The trails are pretty rough but definately a doable trip.


Jim lombard
05-18-2005, 02:08 PM
Hi Don,
I've done it twice, in winter from the Carter hut and in summer from Pinkham via Lost pond and WRT. It's a wonderful hike, great ledges, ups and downs across the ridge. I would rate it as moderately strenuous if you're a seasoned hiker.

05-18-2005, 02:09 PM
Hi -
I am average speed (often near book time) when I have a daypack. This trip took me 7-8 hours with a forty pound pack. I found it to be very slow going on the scrambles up to D (or is it E peak?) and also down from A to the hut. My trip report from October is here:

Trip Report (http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=4031)

It was a great time and great weekend. I was pretty beat from the first day (and all of the Scotch at the hut ;) . I adjusted my day two to just hike Carter Dome and Hight and then I went down the Rainbow Trail and explored the Wild and Wildcat River Valleys.

Have a great trip!!

the starchild
05-18-2005, 02:47 PM
i did this trip last fall and it was one of the hardest hikes i had done. we climbed from pinkham over the wildcats and camped near carter notch hut. twas not easy starting a 3 night trip up that trail with all our food and water, BUT.......that trail was amazing, an absolute joy despite the huffin', puffin' and sore legs. i look forward to doing it again...with a ligher load hopefully!

Ice, snow and i guess even rain could make a few spots pretty dangerious in the begining. very ledgy.

05-18-2005, 10:12 PM
I was with Poison Ivy on the trip she mentions. There's a trip report (http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=3521) and a photo album (http://hiking.saletnik.org/gallery/wildcats-carter-moriah-2004) if you're interested.

Strenuous? This hike is no walk in the park. It starts off very steep, then you negotiate the ledges, then up some more. But once you make elevation, it's a beautiful ridge walk and the ups and downs from E to A are not bad at all. At that point it's just long. Descending into Carter Notch is steep but again not overly so. You'll feel it at that point.

The next day, you start with the steep (and overly so) climb out of the Notch, but you're refreshed, and after the first 1/4 mile (and a fantastic lookout) it moderates. It's a solid down from Mt Hight (don't miss this summit!) to Zeta Pass, but a mellow rise up to the rest of the Carters, and a very nice ridge walk.

So it's a good, solid hike, but as noted by someone else, for an experienced hiker it really gets a "moderate" rating overall.

Double Bow
05-19-2005, 02:31 PM
ching, ching... here's my two cents. I did this and I thought that it wasn't as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. Once you get to Wildcat E, it's a cakewalk and getting to E isn't as bad as a lot of other places in the area (the notch to Carter Dome for example). There you go, keep the change. :D

05-19-2005, 06:30 PM
Now for my time schedule for this hike. We were a group of 8. Stayed overnight at Carter Notch Hut. Date: July 14, 1998. Weather: Sunny 70s.

0.0 2050 9:25 AM AMC Pinkham Notch Lodge
0.9 2050 10:05-10:25 Jct. Wildcat Ridge Trail with Lost Pond trail
1.3 2500 10:55-11:05 First Ledge
1.5 2880 11:30-11:45 Second Ledge
1.7 3160 12:00-12:20 Third Ledge
2.3 3750 1:00-1:15 View of Mt. Washington
2.7 4030 1:55-2:25 Wildcat "E" (at that time this was the 4,000 footer)
2.9 4000 2:30-2:35 Wildcat Summit Ski Station
3.0 4050 2:40-2:45 Wildcat "D" Observation Tower
3.3 3770 3:00-3:15 Wildcat col
4.1 4298 4:00-4:10 Wildcat "C"
5.0 4422 4:50-5:05 Wildcat "A"
5.7 3388 5:40 Jct. Nineteen Mile Brook Trail
6.0 3300 6:00 Carter Notch Hut

05-23-2005, 01:09 PM
We're planning this hike this summer. Is there any advantage to taking the Polecat ski trail instead of the Wildcat Trail? From the map they're both the same vertical change, but Polecat is longer. To me that means Polecat is more difficult, though psychologically it appears easier because the elevation change occurs more gradually. Add in the aesthetics of hiking up an open ski trail vs. a nice hiking trail in the woods and Wildcat Trail is the better option. Any thoughts?

Bob Kittredge
05-23-2005, 02:42 PM
The ski trails are less of a scramble, but I love scrambles, so I've only used the ski trails for descent. In late summer, the wildflowers, ripe raspberries and strawberries, and views of the northern Presies make them even better.

05-23-2005, 04:18 PM
I think this is one of the most difficult sections of the Appalachian Trail in NH, worse than Carter Dome from Carter Notch. There is one place on the ledges (just before the ledge climb in MichaelJ's photo) where they have chiselled a narrow path across the edge of an overhanging boulder. Those with fear of heights should avaoid this spot as should everyone in wet weather. In winter I bushwhack straight up to the R to avoid this and a couple of ledge climbs - thick but I like the trees to hold on to. Sorry but I couldn't turn up my photo. The ridge from E (former 4K moved to D) to A is not that bad but is overgrown and poorly marked - I've had people ask if this is really the AT. Then just before you hit Carter Notch the trail crosses a fairly new slide where people have been seriously injured in winter.

No this isn't Huntington Ravine or even N Slide but it's pretty bad for the AT which people are expected to hike with overnight packs regardless of weather. I'm surprised they haven't done a better job here.

Jim lombard
05-23-2005, 04:18 PM
Is there any advantage to taking the Polecat ski trail instead of the Wildcat Trail?

The disadvantage of the Polecat trail is that it can be VERY buggy. Not so bad when you're decending because you can outrun em! I agree with Bob, the ledges are fun!