Mount Cardigan Loop Trail

MODERATE 184 reviews

Mount Cardigan Loop Trail is a 3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Canaan, New Hampshire that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
3.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,181 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

scramble

snow

hiking
4 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.

hiking
4 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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

hiking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

6 months ago

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

hiking
6 months ago

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

6 months ago

fantastic loop and terrain diversity, will be back for sure

hiking
7 months ago

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.

7 months ago

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

hiking
7 months ago

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!

hiking
8 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

hiking
8 months ago

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 !

8 months ago

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.

hiking
9 months ago

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

hiking
9 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.

hiking
9 months ago

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

hiking
9 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
10 months ago

Icy with snow

10 months ago

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!

11 months ago

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.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

nice trail, wish I had hiking sneakers tho. pretty wet, but still navigable and we're in our 60's. beautiful views up top.

hiking
Friday, October 27, 2017

Great little trail ,off season and still bumped into 4 or 5 groups working their way up as we came down. After two days of rain trail was still navigable.

hiking
Sunday, October 22, 2017

hiking
Monday, October 16, 2017

Despite living within a half hour this was the first time I've ever done this hike. Overall it was great, well marked trail-we followed the West Ridge up and down. I did it with my 70 year old Grandmother, 7 year old daughter, 3 year old son and puppy and it was challenging enough but not too hard. The view at the top is amazing. The only downside is the very narrow road, insane parking situation, people literally must have hiked up half a mile from their parking spots! Also lots and lots of traffic with people going up and down and boat loads of dogs some not on leads (no problem) but had some that ran up not on lead which really isn't good because just because that dog is friendly doesn't mean the other is. Either way I would definitely do it again. Reminder, it's carry in and carry out, help to keep our parks clean and enjoyable!

hiking
Saturday, October 14, 2017

My boyfriend and I did this trail today to appreciate the fall foliage. It was a beautiful and well maintained trail. It was of moderate difficulty and the views from the top were lovely despite the fire tower being closed. My biggest tip for someone looking to hike this trail would be plan to go during the off hours. This is a very VERY popular trail full of families and dogs all trying to enjoy the same space. Parking was difficult and traffic on the trail itself was very heavy. All and all, it was a fun hike!

hiking
Sunday, October 08, 2017

West Ridge trail up & down. Moderate hike, steep in places, rock face, fantastic sweeping views. Great foliage hike. Will go back to explore other trails/the loop.

hiking
Thursday, October 05, 2017

Good hike. Well marked trail.
Can be busy with other hikers

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