Carter Dome & South Carter Mtn. & Middle Carter Mtn.
Nineteen Mile Brook Trail --> Carter-Moriah Trail --> North Carter Trail --> Imp Trail --> Small Bushwhack --> Route 16
Distance: 11.6 mi. (Mtn) 0.5 mi. (Road) 12.1 mi. (Total)
Elevation Gain: 3,386 ft. (Overall) 4,722 ft. (Total)
Time: 4:26 (Carter Dome) 5:33 (South Carter) 6:33 (Middle Carter) 8:35 (Total)
The trail starts off pretty gentle and smooth. It stays next to or near Nineteen Mile Brook for most of it's length. This makes for a greta sound track for hiking up the trail. Things stay pretty straight and occasionaly get a little bit rocky. There is certainly still evidence of Tropical Storm Irene, but all in all it isn't too bad. There are a couple places where the trail gets near the brook where things don't look as stable or as wide as I am guessing they once were. One noticeable effect of Irene is a brook crossing before the dam. It appears half of the bridge has been washed away and the second half of the crossing is made on a couple of planks that were salvaged. Just down stream you can make out boards in a pile of debris. Passing the dam the trail stays pretty easy, but gets rockier and has a few more steeper climbs than before. Coming through here is where I started to see more and more wildflowers including both Pink & White Lady's Slippers. As you near the notch, you start to venture away from the brook. For me the trail was pretty wet through here due to the water coming down off the mountain on the left from the recent rains. Before long you get up to the notch and the Carter-Moriah Trail. Coming up through here was a great start to the hike. I enjoyed being near the brook and the lush green vegetation all around. I can see coming back to this trail again just for a nice walk in the woods.
A little washed out at a bend in the brook
White Lady's Slipper
I made the quick trip down between the lakes to go check out the Carter Notch Hut. After enjoying looking at the lakes with the mountains in each side I started to smell the hut before I could see it. They were just getting done with breakfast for the guests and it smelled great. I took a quick rest here and talked with a couple of the croo learning a bit more about the hut.
Wildcat behind one of the Carter Lakes
Coming up out of the notch is steep just like the guide book says. There aren't any big bouilders to climb up over or anything, but after being gentle so far, it can take it out of you some. Just before the top of the steepest section, you come to an opening on the trail as you go next to some ledges. I wondered why there was a side path over to a view coming up shortly when there was a view here. Up the trail just a few feet more is the path to the view so I took it. The outlook here is better than the one on the trail since it opens up more to the east and you can see some other ledges on the side of Carter Dome. After this the trail levels out some as it starts to go on the side of the ridge a bit. I missed the spring the guidebook mentions, but that might be because it started to rain in this section and I was paying more attention to the trail. The trail continues at a steady pace before it turns right a bit for a last steeper climb to the summit. Just before the actual summit is a smaller opening with a single cairn in it. The summit is actually about 50 ft further. Just after I set my pack down under a tree out of the rain, the rain stopped and some blue sky came out between the clouds. This seemed like a joke from mother nature, but it did make for better views from the summit.
View from outlook
North from Carter Dome
I kept my rain jacket on for the quick and easy trek to Mt. Hight. I knew the trees would be wet and this could keep me drier. This section goes by quick and was the first place I saw any other people other than at the hut. Views from here certainly look like they would be good as everyone says, but there were clouds around not too far away that did limit them today. I was starting to be able to see most of the peaks on the Presidentials, but some were still in hiding. after a rest and something to eat, I headed down to Zeta Pass. The trail coming down Mt. Hight is quite steep at the top and was a bit slick from rain. Plus a couple rocks I stepped on were loose. The trail down into the pass went by pretty quick as well. I stopped at the trail junction to put my rain coat away and take a quick break. But as soon as I did, it started to rain again. On the jacket went again and I was headed back on the trail.
Going up to South Carter the trail was steedy but not too hard. The are some bog bridges to go over which were a little slick from the rain. When you come up to the summit there is a single cairn next to the slightly open rock to the left of the trail. The guidebook mentions a summit sign, but all there is now is a small piece of wood screwed to a tree with hand writing on it. Looking through the trees provided no views as there was just clouds around. After a short break, I checked my gps to see that it only had a 2D position for me and moved part of my track to central Canada. I had now hiked over 1850 miles today according to that. I helped it get a better signal and headed off just as it started to rain again. From the south, South Carter doesn't look like it drops enough on this side, but it does. After a gentle drop into the saddle, I was headed back up on my way to middle Carter.
South Carter "view"
Going up Middle Carter there are more and more bog bridges. There are also some nice small openings that give you limited views including up to Middle Carter. The trail through here isn't too hard except for a steep rocky ledge at and opening. Going down this after rain took a bit of care. After that though, it wasn't bad to the next summit. The trail levels out just before you get to the Middle Carter summit and there is a single small cairn. There are some limited views here to the west. The better views come in a couple places north of the summit on the trail. Leaving the summit, I saw my third other hiker for the day as he headed south.
Getting close to Middle Carter
The North Carter Trail heads down at a moderate grade. It got a little wet further down it with some water running down the trail. This was the first trail I came across blowdowns on that were still in the trail. Up to here, the trails had been cleared well (and recently by the looks). Kudos to the trail adopters in here. Soon after I could hear a brook to my right, I came to the Imp Trail and headed left. This trail isn't very steep and has good footing in places. For a section though, there are quite a few rocks in the trail. It had started raining again and this time it was harder and longer than it had been so far today. The rain coming down made these rocks slippery. I lost my footing in a couple places due to this, but never actually went down. With the rain, I didn't take much for pictures through here or stop to look at much. After the trail turns to the right (north) some, there is a small logging road that comes out to Camp Dodge. I took this to the camp and then headed up the road back to my truck at the trailhead.
Presidential Range from above Middle Carter
Carter Notch Hut
Carter Lakes and Hut from above
Pink Lady's Slipper
This hike was good even though it rained off and on. Even with the rain views were nice. I only saw three other hikers and it was a quiet hike. Nineteen Mile Brook Trail was a great trail that I will certainly go back to. It was the first time I got to try out my EMS rain jacket, and I was certainly glad I brought it today.
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE