MT. CARRIGAIN, NH

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Stand in sum­mer and look at fall on this 4,000-footer in the White Moun­tains.

Septem­ber is undis­put­edly the best month when it comes to peak­bag­ging in the White Moun­tains. Gone are the days of ice, mud, hu­mid­ity, and bugs. In­stead, good tread and pre­dictable weather pat­terns reign. And here, in the south­ern cor­ner of the Pemigewasset, you get an added bonus: a first look at fall. From 4,682-foot Mt. Carrigain, scan north to see the taller Pres­i­den­tial Range, which will light up in reds and yel­lows be­gin­ning the third week of Septem­ber.

The best way to get here is on a 13.5-mile lol­lipop-loop from the Sig­nal Ridge trail­head. Fol­low the Sig­nal Ridge Trail 1.7 miles north­west to a junc­tion and the start of the loop. From there, it’s best to go coun­ter­clock­wise (climb­ing the steep­est sec­tion, which is eas­ier on the knees). Split off onto the Carrigain Notch Trail and take it a lit­tle more than 5 miles across the 2,639-foot pass and into the Pemigewasset Wilder­ness to an in­ter­sec­tion near Carrigain Branch. (If overnight­ing, find a flat spot in this area.) Veer south to be­gin the lung-bust­ing climb up Mt. Carrigain via the Deso­la­tion Trail, which gains nearly 2,500 feet in less than 2 miles. The view from the sum­mit fire tower is worth it, though: It out­runs the hori­zon in ev­ery di­rec­tion, en­com­pass­ing three wilder­ness ar­eas, in­clud­ing the craggy Sand­wich Range to the south. Best part, ac­cord­ing to pho­tog­ra­pher Harry Licht­man? “Not a road in sight.” To re­turn, drop off the sum­mit on the Sig­nal Ridge Trail. PER­MIT None CON­TACT www.fs.usda.gov/white­moun­tain

HARRY LICHT­MAN

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