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Holt Trail and Manning Trail Loop to Mount Cardigan

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Cardigan Mountain State Park

Holt Trail and Manning Trail Loop to Mount Cardigan is a 5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Bristol, New Hampshire that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 5.0 mi Elevation gain 1,899 ft Route type Loop

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Bird watching

Views

Description
Waypoints (0)

This is a loop starting from the AMC Cardigan Lodge. This route takes the Holt Trail to Mount Cardigan and continues to Firescrew Mountain via Mowglis Trail, and finally returns to the AMC Cardigan Lodge via Manning Trail. The Holt Trail to Mt Cardigan's peak is considered one of the most difficult and dangerous hikes in New Hampshire, requiring significant effort to gain nearly 1000 feet of elevation in less than 0.8 miles by climbing over large boulders and, at the end, climbing up an exposed rock face with a very dangerous drop. This trail in particular is only recommended for experienced hikers and those comfortable with heights. This hiking course offers plenty of opportunity to take in the beautiful views in the region and is almost entirely exposed to the elements. Take extreme caution in rain and icy conditions, and be humble in measuring your hiking ability.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (60)
Photos (439)
Recordings (50)
Completed (250)
Ash C
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HikingGreat!Rocky

What a wonderful hike up holt trail! It was a bit of a challenge for myself as I am not super experienced with incline hikes such as this but I managed quite alright. It was super fun and adventurous!! The rocky trail took us about 1hr 40 min to the summit & that included a couple water breaks! If your not afraid of heights & wear the proper footwear you’ll do just fine!!!

Alex King
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HikingRockyScramble

Amazing trail! Definitely very steep and not for beginners. At least .3 miles is done on all 4s but the views are worth it! It’s so good!

Amy Yes
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HikingScramble

One of the harder hikes I’ve done! Believe it when it says hard! Last part is straight up, don’t attempt if it’s rained and make sure your boots have good grip. But overall so worth it, great views, super challenging but fun!

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Mikhail Begoun
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 15, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail, not too many people. Starts in the forest with a modest incline, but then a very intense hike at the end. Steep and flat walls to climb may be very challenging if wet or icy, but was ok on this dry summer day in good shoes. Took me 4hr to make the whole loop (incl 1hr lunch and pics at the top).

Joey Crognale
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HikingRockyScramble

Awesome trail. It's mostly normal until you reach the rock slabs, which are really fun and offer unrivalled views. They aren't very dangerous unless it's icy. mostly 45 degree incline I'd say. Don't go if you are afraid of heights. The only sketchy part is the final scramble where there is one key foothold, but even if you fall from there it's a short slide. it's hard, definitely, but keep in mind I saw little kids and a small dog doing it. (Obviously don't bring your kids if they are not experienced). The view on top of Cardigan is nice but it's better on the way up Holt.

Ian Griffiths
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Hiking

Although classified as “one of the hardest trails in New England”, my three friends and I found Holt trail to be quite easy. Most of the trail is gradual until about .8 from the summit when it gets scrambly (mini fridge sized rocks). There is a 35ft section of smooth rock face just below the summit as well, which requires 4 points of contact. Our dog Keesa didn’t have much difficulty until this big slab, but she easily dommed it after some route consideration. I wouldn’t recommend taking your dog unless it’s experienced and comfortable climbing steep, rocky terrain that societal people would consider not possible for dogs. Lastly be sure it didn’t rain a day or two before you attempt the trail. -Keits

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Daniel Zatta
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Hiking

The holt trail is very difficult and requires significant rock climbing.

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Stacey D
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HikingScramble
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Gabrielle L'Heureux
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HikingBugsRockyScramble
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Erick Morell
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Hiking

Definitely not for kids or dogs. Highly recommend holt trail if not afraid of heights.

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Andrew Crispin
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HikingRockyScrambleSnow

Completed this hike in about 4 hours time, including breaks and pauses to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. Going up the Holt Trail was certainly an adventure. As posted throughout the trail, it is an incredibly dangerous and difficult trail, despite being so short. It is hand-over-foot on large boulders for about 0.5 miles, ending with a 0.3 mile of bald, steep, dangerous rock face that requires a cool head and some bouldering experience. Not for the faint of heart, or those with a fear of heights. Especially DO NOT consider in icy conditions, rain, or descending. It is very steep! That being said, the weather was beautiful and there was still ice and snow remaining along the top of the Holt Trail and Manning Trail, but spikes are not needed, just strong boots. Shoes not recommended for this course. There are tons of opportunities to enjoy the views. Hike safe!

John Wheeler
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HikingIcyMuddyOver grownRockyScrambleSnow
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Janice He
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 19, 2020
HikingIcyScrambleSnow

Climbed 4/19/2020. Beautiful unencumbered views once you reach the steeper/scrambling section on Holt Trail. Descent via Manning was much less difficult. Would definitely recommend ascending via Holt if you enjoy a challenge. But heed the warning signs; I would probably skip if you are afraid of heights or have no experience hiking. Would recommend bringing microspikes/crampons if hiking it soon as the entire rock scramble in the last mile from the summit is still covered in snow and ice. Most the trail markers up Holt are covered in snow so make sure you look around and stay on trail.

Greg Pouliot
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 13, 2020
Hiking

The last woman to do this trail and write a review hiked 2 weeks ago. Her profile says she’s from Massachusetts. She is a prime example of why you should be staying home. She took her family and her dog up a trail that has a sign warning against hiking it in icy or wet conditions. There’s still snow in the mountains up here. Don’t be an idiot. Stay local.

Beatriz Ribeiro
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HikingIcySnow

Hiked this today with the family and our pup. We read the sign beforehand where it says its for “experienced hikers” but their definition of experienced is different from mine clearly. NOT recommended for children or beginners or even moderate hikers like myself. This trail was the hardest one I had done and absolutely dangerous at some points. We were on all fours almost near the top of the summit because it was so icy and terrifying. We could have been seriously injured with just one slip. It very steep and do not recommend in rain or snow. Rock Climbers, this may be a fine hike for you. Would only do it again by doing the Clarks Trail.

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