Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Cardigan Mountain State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

On this beautiful fall day I wanted to try a few Mt. Cardigan trails, so I headed up West Ridge, then took Clark Trail up and down the very windy peak. To add some distance I looped Clark to Vistamont to Skyland, ultimately returning on South Ridge. Vistamont was particularly muddy, with steep sections requiring careful attention not to slip. An advanced beginner, I'd rate this combo loop on the hard side of moderate, with gorgeous views and exciting terrain throughout.

hiking
3 months ago

First trail my family and I attempted after our recent move to New Hampshire. I’ve done some hunting and hiking in Colorado and Alaska, but my family has not. That being said- they did phenomenal. We made it up and back in a few hours. My children are 4 and 5, so it took a while longer than it may take most. The views were amazing. If you’re going in the fall or winter, dress appropriately, the temperature drops substantially at the peak, and it was SUPER windy when we went. Great hike though. Trails were easy to follow and the trail markers are clearly visible. All in all, great hike.

Well after the rain stopped...
great hike mainly because of the stunning leaf peeping. It was the perfect timing to see the autumn leaves. However, it was super muddy and slippery at times but great colors and good chilly temperatures to keep you nice and cool.

First time hiking it .....easy to follow and we had a blast!!! The views are amazing ❤️

Amazing views, a good length, and one instance of confusing trail markers made this 4/5 for me. There are maps available under the “Shelter” at the parking lot at the beginning of the West Ridge Trail. Also a few picnic tables there.

We hiked this trail at the end of September 2018, and the trail up to the rock face was soggy or muddy most of the way. Definitely hike in waterproof hiking boots/shoes. The water also made some of the rock face near the top rather slippery.

Our intent was to take the West Ridge Trail up and back. It is marked with orange paint. There is a fork in the West Ridge Trail about 1/4 mile before the peak, and the West Ridge Trail continues to be marked by orange paint on the rock face. It was confusing because there was an orange arrow pointing down the other fork, so we erroneously followed that fork (didn’t notice the orange paint on the rock face on our way up... see picture I uploaded). That fork ended up leading to where the South Peak and Rimrock trail breaks off, so our ascent to the peak was slightly steeper coming from that side vs. the West Ridge side.

I have not been hiking much recently, and was carrying a 35 pound toddler on my back for the duration of this hike. I also do not have good hiking shoes anymore. My knees are definitely feeling it this evening. Would recommend using a walking stick / hiking poles.

Also would not hike this unless it’s a clear day. The view is too pretty to waste on a cloudy / rainy day. We were a couple weeks early for peak fall colors, but was still worth it.

Great hike. The climb up Holt was very steep and absolutely would not recommend in wet conditions or as a descent. Lots of bouldering/scrambling with the last .5 mile getting intense and the last quarter/eighth getting downright scary requiring some technical climbing ability and liberal use of hanging on to notches in the rocks and roots to get a footing and push up. Not for the faint of heart. But once up absolutely gorgeous views. Agree with all on the tail end of skyland and a good portion of woodland trails being very overgrown and recommend pants. We moved fairly quick throughout and finished in about 5 hours exact. Would do it again with very good gripping shoes and no wetness on that holt ascent.

We took the South trail going up and then did a slightly longer loop taking Clark Trail, then back west on the Hurricane Trail (uphill again) before heading down on the West Trail. Best part aside from the amazing views, was the mossy forest along Hurricane Trail. If you have the opportunity, take the extra .5 miles to head Southeast on Clark Trail, then West on Hurricane before heading down on West. Or, take the South trail going up and down.

Great hike! We stayed on the Clark Trail to include Cardigan Mountain peak (see our recording) and are glad we did! The Clark trail is pretty busy though, lots of groups. The trails on the east were very quiet and include beautiful views including a stunning view of Cardigan peak. Due to all of the recent rain it was pretty muddy and slippery in some spots. There are also some areas that require scrambling.
Highly recommend this hike! It took us about 4 hours but we stopped frequently to take in the many beautiful views and had lunch on the Gilman peak.

Great views but half of the Holt Trail markers are faded and often far and few between. Also the best views are found by going in reverse.

The holt trail sucks and often takes you up an unnecessarily difficult path (and treacherous for one part) when you could easily walk around the trail a few feet to avoid this. Unfortunately when you get to the rocky top of the mountain it takes you through dirt sections prone to being muddy. I was safer by simply walking up the dry rocky hills. It rained yesterday but was sunny today so everything EXCEPT THE TRAIL was dry.

Mount cardigan is still very worth it but summit it by literally any path other than Holt to spare yourself frustration and potential danger if it is even remotely wet or icy.

5 months ago

Nice early morning hike to the top and some great views.

Great hike with my 7 year old. Just enough challenge and beautiful views from the top.

fantastic loop and terrain diversity, will be back for sure

Fantastic trail that is well-marked and leads to a wonderful view at the top (note: we only had time for the West Trail). As others have said, the trail gets a lot of use but in most parts it’s plenty wide to allow faster hikers a lane to pass. Definitely kid friendly, though it is a very steady upward climb, a few rock scrambles, and the last leg is over the smooth and somewhat steep boulder face of the summit. Definitely will do this hike again when we are in the area. I’ve been walking/hiking some, so in moderate shape, and the hike took us 1.5 hours up and back (though we were moving a little faster on our descent) using only the Western Trail.

What an amazing day we had on this trail. Started at AMC lodge (very cool in of itself) and headed up Manning. Got the heart beating and the sweat pouring (it was 100 degrees plus today) for much of the ascent but when we got to the first viewpoint it was all worth it. The slight scrambles up the ridge to the summit were challenging but doable. Firescrew was gorgeous. The summit and fire tower could never be described with mere words - absolutely breathtaking on this hot, but clear day. The descent down Clark was tough on the toenails at first, but then wasn’t bad at all. Will absolutely do this trail again!

Hiked today. Quick trip to the views! Nice breeze when you get above the tree line. Great way to spend 1/2 the day.

This was a good hike, not to difficult for someone who is a little out of shape like me. The view is amazing at the top!

Fun hike but was very unfortunately clouded in on this day. The views must be insane. Lots of slab towards the summit that can be slippery when wet. I’d probably want to be doing this hike on a dry day. Still, the trails were great and despite the inability to see any distance it was a great hike. Will return on a clear day.

hiking
7 months ago

I love fire towers. This was a great hike with a great view at the top. Check out my trip report with photos and some things to look out for.
http://www.eastcoasthiker.com/trails/cardiganfiretower

It’s a busy but very nice trail. Not too steep , not too long , just right . Perfect for kids . The views on top are gorgeous too !

Nice break from the west ridge trail. I preferred this way up. The South peak has pretty good views to the south east. The only thing you miss is the waterfall on the west ridge trail. There is a side trail to the fire wardens cabin which was pretty neat.

Hiked with my 10 and 6 year olds. both faired well but this loop does extend the amount time spent on bare rock. My 6 year old feels uneasy on open bare rock with an incline.

I don't think I would hike just the west ridge again. I preferred this loop.

Great hike. Lots of rock-face near the top which I don’t love. Very windy at the top too. But good challenging hike. We went up manning and down Clark, per recommendations we saw here. Glad we did that. Took us 3 hours including a short break.

hiking
7 months ago

Easy trail with great views. Fun drive out to trailhead and perfect hike for dogs too!

hiking
8 months ago

We tried to get to the Holt trail, but accidentally drove to the wrong side of the mountain, so ended up taking the West Ridge Trail instead. It was very beautiful, but fairly easy. It took us 40 minutes to get to the summit, and then we looped around to Firescrew (the other summit), and went down the South Ridge Trail (hitting two more summits along the way). Overall, we did 6 miles of trail in 4hrs, including lunch.

The trail starts out very simple, but then gets more difficult, with some scrambling over bald face rock at the top. It's very scenic!! When we went, it was muddy in parts, but no ice or snow, and we were entirely fine in just running shoes.

Small spots with ice , up with two dogs on leashes no problem! Muddy wear gaiters! Lunch just below the summit.

hiking
8 months ago

I went this past Saturday! Was way too icy to get to the top, very dangerous. Will update review once the ice melts and I go in the summer.

hiking
8 months ago

Icy with snow

Did the orange loop today 4/14/18. The road up to the tables and benches is closed so you have to walk up that. Once on the trail it was very icy / snowy, I recommend boots, extra socks, gloves and snow picks . Very slippery!

Gets progressively steeper on the way up, but nothing too strenuous. You start getting views at around 1.2 miles, and the panorama at the summit is phenomenal. On a clear day, you can see the White Mountains, the Green Mountains, the Lakes Region, and countless other points near and far. The beginning of the descent is very steep, all rock, then it goes over a fairly level ridge with nice views. After that, it gets steep again, hands are necessary at times. Overall a nice hike, but the descent route was more difficult than we were expecting.

hiking
Monday, December 04, 2017

Great view for a short hike. I wasn't expecting as much Ice as there was. I should have brought ice spikes. Our dog had a great time.

hiking
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This trail had heavy ice on it (November) and very unsafe. It might be nice in the summer but not late fall. Also my dog had a hard time with this trail, it’s not as dog friendly as I was hoping.

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