MT. CARRIGAIN, NH
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