Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
White Mountains - Carter Notch
Display Avatars Sort By:
Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
White Mountains - Carter Notch on 08/19/2010 11:54:33 MDT Print View

I did a 2 night trip in the White Mountains of NH with a group of other folks at the end of July. We stayed at Carter Notch Hut (3,300 ft elevation) for both nights, which (combined with it's relatively low elevation made) for a great introduction to the Whites for my 7 yr. old son. My brother-in-law Ron, his son Todd, and my niece Lindsay also came along this year.

Hiking in - Chris & me

Lindsay, Ron  & Todd

If you're not familiar with the hut system in the Whites, it's not like other shelters along the AT. You need to make reservations in advance ($90/night), but you get a bunk, blankets, pillow, dinner and breakfast, along with use of the facilities and interaction with the hut crew. Because of that, you get hikers with a wide range of backgrounds, hiking experiences, and outlook.

Much of the hike was along a gentle, but steady uphill trail along a creek. It was great hiking weather with no bugs. While Chris & I opted for the fairly easy 4 mile hike up to Carter Notch Hut (1,900 ft gain), many of the others took the longer, steeper, & harder route over Carter Dome. The trails reconnected at Carter Notch, where two lakes were formed during a large rock slide in 1869.

Lake at Carter Notch

Looking eastward with Wildcat in the background. We would climb up that the next day.

The Lake

Lily pads

There is some fun scrambling in the Ramparts, which resulted from the rock slide. Carter Dome behind us was occasionally lit up when the clouds passed.

Me & Chris at the Ramparts

Carter is one of the smaller huts, and is below treeline, so it was hard to get a good photo of the hut. Even below treeline, the winds got up to >60 miles/hr as the weather tried to squeeze through the notch.

Carter Notch Hut

The crew cooks, cleans, educates, and entertains the guests.

The Hut Crew

Staying at the huts is definitely a different experience than other backcountry excursions, but it did have advantages in terms of socializing and eating.

My brother-in-law Ron and his son Todd relaxed after dinner.

Todd & Ron

Can't say my son ever actually relaxed during his first big hike, but I was able to hold him down for a photo.

Chris & me

This hut had bunkhouses separate from the main hut, which were spartan, but new & clean.


Although a mother might worry about her son falling off a cliff or being eaten by bears, the bunks were actually the most dangerous hazard for Chris, who slept in one of the top bunks. During the night he fell the ~6 ft. off the top bunk (he HAD to sleep up there). Luckily, there were no broken bones, and I'm not even sure he woke up completely.

Inside Bunkhouse

The second day, we took a hike up to the top of Wildcat Mt. in the hopes of the clouds clearing from the peaks and getting some good views. It was a steep climb...these trails were obviously built before the invention of switchbacks.

Up we go...slowly

Lindsay & Ron

We were rewarded with some nice views back down into Carter Notch, with the lakes and huts nestled between Carter and Wildcat. You can see where the rocks forming the Ramparts came from on the opposing mountainside.

Carter Notch


Although the clouds never cleared from the peak of Mt. Washinton, we did get good views of Pinkham notch (to the left of the enshrouded Mt. Washington), and the surrounding peaks.

Pinkham Notch and Mt Washington (in clouds)

Mt Washington and the valley

We had another nice dinner and breakfast, then hiked out the next morning.

My group at Carter Notch Hut

Hiking out

Hiking out 2

19 Mile Trail Trailhead

Edited by TomClark on 08/19/2010 14:46:39 MDT.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
annual hike? on 08/20/2010 08:52:32 MDT Print View

I think you have started an annual family hike. Lonesome Lake and Zealand huts also have easy access trails with nice day hike options to higher peaks with views and proximity to water, lakes and streams which kids enjoy.

Plan a hut-to-hut hike?

Edited by rambler on 08/20/2010 08:57:59 MDT.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: White Mountains - Carter Notch on 08/20/2010 11:01:00 MDT Print View

Thanks for the trip report.

Carter Notch is one of my favorite places in the White Mountains. I've been there at least a dozen times over the years. The hut also makes a great destination in the off-season (bring your own food and bedding).

PS -- I don't think the bunkhouses are that new, they've just been renovated. Looks like they added new windows for extra light, and paneling in the bunk rooms. Lonesome was also recently renovated...

Edited by jdw01776 on 08/20/2010 11:01:33 MDT.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: White Mountains - Carter Notch on 08/20/2010 17:50:02 MDT Print View

@Frank, glad to be a good influence on you. I wish I was closer to the WHites to explore them on a regular basis throughout the different seasons.

@ John, you're right. The huts have been aaround, but I'm told it was a big improvement with a transparent porch roof and light colored pine in the rooms, which makes everything much brighter. I assume you lived closer to NH then Texas if you've been there that often.

You might enjoy "Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire." It details some deaths in the Whites. Always nice to learn from other's mistakes.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: Re: White Mountains - Carter Notch on 08/20/2010 19:20:02 MDT Print View

@Tom -- I do one trip a year back to the east to backpack. 2007 is the last time I was at Carter Notch. I lived in MA before I graduated from college...

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: White Mountains - Carter Notch on 08/22/2010 16:24:23 MDT Print View


I'll go with you next year, I promise. Provided that I have a new job and the trip doesn't interfere with a meeting or vacation.