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Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop

Cardigan Mountain State Park

Southern Lakes Region, New Hampshire

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Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop

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  • The trail is wide and gentle at the beginning.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Bridge on the approach.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Trail junctions are well signed.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Sign warning hikers of the trail's difficulty.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • The start of the scrambling.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Elevation is gained quickly in the last few tenths of a mile.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • View from the trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Steep section on the Holt Trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Looking over at Firescrew from the trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Steep slab on the Holt Trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Steep slab on the Holt Trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Nearing the top of the Holt Trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • View from Mount Cardigan.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • View from Mount Cardigan.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Mount Cardigan fire tower.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Looking back at Mount Cardigan from the Mowglis Trail.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
  • Descending the Manning Trail from Firescrew.- Mount Cardigan via the Holt Trail Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
360-degree view. Fire tower. Trailhead lodging.
Cons: 
Busy trailhead. Dirt road. Steep terrain.
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Region:
Southern Lakes Region, NH
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,800.00 ft (548.64 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,392.00 ft (424.28 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Mount Cardigan is often known for being a family-friendly hike to a 360-degree view, but it also offers options for the more experienced hikers looking for a challenge. Starting from the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Cardigan Lodge on the east side of the mountain, multiple trails provide hiking and skiing options year round.

The shortest, most challenging of them is the Holt Trail, which is only recommended for ascents and during times of year when snow and ice aren’t an issue. Don’t let the easy, rolling approach fool you; the majority of the elevation gain to Mount Cardigan’s summit is done in the last half-mile. The trail becomes steep and rocky, ascending ledges and scrambling up slab. Views may be had along the upper section of the trail and from the open, bald summit. A fire tower sits on the granite, and subalpine plants cling to the mountain in cracks in the rock. Protect this fragile vegetation by staying on the rocks wherever possible, and continue steeply down to the trees on the Mowglis Trail to Firescrew and descend via the Manning Trail. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear and give yourself plenty of time, as this loop is challenging and not great for beginners.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(4 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(23 within a 30 mile radius)

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