Explore the most popular forest trails near Bristol with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Ran from little sugar loaf mtn in Alexandria NH to cardigan which was 17 miles. Used the holt train. Lots of fun, extremely technical. Meant for experience hikers. Wouldn’t recommend for beginners. Very steep and rock with not much to grab onto.

awesome, great views!

4 days ago

Hiked yesterday with my son. This was my sixth or seventh trip up Holt but the first one where the sun was really shining. The rock face on the steep sections are extremely exposed, so the heat was something of a surprise. We had ample water, but even still I was mentally caught off guard.

I absolutely agree do not think that this trail should be descended.

awesome trail, pretty mellow Hike to little, going on to big Sugarloaf is much more challenging.

on Holt Trail

hiking
1 month ago

You ever read stuff like the reviews on this trail here and go, "I'm not sure how capable these hikers are; their experiences are relative, so I'll give it a go?"

Heed the warning.

I am about 140 lbs and 5'7. I'm in the military. I have a scrawnier (ectomorph) build. I don't work out a lot but I am comfortable with hikes. I wear military-style boots. I carried my dSLR camera with just one lens, my knock-off GoPro, some water, an MRE, and a 100-weight fleece (which I was very glad I did, later). All this and some miscellaneous crap in a 5.11 Rush 72 Hour pack.

When I drove down to Mt. Cardigan, I found myself on the opposite side of the mountain. Decided to do a loop to get to it instead, so I hiked up the West Ridge Trail, then to the South Ridge Trail, then to the Skyland Trail, then went down on the Vistamont Trail. I took my left too early and went up the Clark/Holt cutoff trail, realized it really wasn't that difficult and figured that I didn't actually take the Holt Trail, so being just 0.2 mi from the summit at the start of the Hurricane Gap trail, I turned and went back down to meet Holt.

I knew I was on the right track after I saw the infamous sign. I proceeded.

The trail itself has many moments where you don't think it's a trail anymore. You start off the first half through an overgrown path and cross mossy rocks over a stream, holding onto a downed tree. You keep going and think, this isn't bad. And then you get to your first rock face with a simple yellow UP arrow with just a crevice to shove your boot into and hold onto.

And that's the easiest part of the rapid ascent.

You go up a lot of these rock faces that have grades of 50-60% with little to hold onto, and then some easier rock scrambles in between. It is very tiring (especially after having hiked all day) and I highly-recommend you take breaks. You will get to a point where you can't safely descend (if you wanted to, anyway). TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS. You can run UP the rock face in some parts, but there are a lot of others where the grade is more like 70%.

Also, the trail markers turn from yellow to white. Did anyone mention that? (I later realized that they did this to tell hikers what side of the mountain they were on, but I thought also that both colors are horrible choices for trail markings.)

You may lose the trail multiple times, because it is not marked very well between a few stints. I know I did... twice. I erroneously climbed a few spots where I had to carefully descend back... and scared as heck considering I had a backpack with my gear in it, treacherously pulling me back. (If you fall backward at all, there's nothing to stop you, save a few brush spots.) I honestly thought I was done for at one point, where I lost the trail and tried to climb upward with barely anything to grab... you will need a lot of upper-body and leg strength to pull and push yourself up. I had to rest a few times just hugging the rock face and pulled muscles in both legs... it was scary.

And each time you get past a stint like that, it eases up... and then you're presented with another rock face. Repeat this, again and again. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS.

Like someone else said, it's like rock climbing, but without the gear. Which makes it, at times, terrifying.

I finally made it up but it was dusk at this point, so I don't have great photos. It is also very, very windy up there. The fire tower is a welcome site when you're on your last dregs.

There are cairns up there as well which help you guide yourself down to the West Ridge Trail. THIS trail is easy to follow down... I didn't even use a light for a while to preserve my night vision and just followed the developed trail.

I highly-recommend that you bring plenty of water in a SMALL pack and as minimal gear as you can. I do NOT recommend a large backpack as I did, and definitely do not recommend hiking Holt AFTER already having hiked most of the day. Have boots or good hiking shoes. I would not recommend gloves unless they are "sticky" with a good grip... you need to have finger strength to help pull yourself up. I would highly suggest you DON'T do this after rainy weather... the rocks can become very slippery, I'd imagine.

In hindsight, now that I'm over being an insignificant speck to nature, I do recommend the challenge, but be ready for it.

hiking
1 month ago

Went up yellow trail markers and it was relatively easy. There was a couple rock scrambles but nothing too steep. Views were great at the top. Took the orange trail down which was easier and very nice. Took 1.5 hours round trip max.

nice

hiking
3 months ago

This trail is a challenging trail. We parked by the courts at Panorama Ln and Bear Mountain Rd and trekked up the road to the trail head, which added about an extra mile each way. The road was mostly snow and ice covered heading up this morning, so I wore micro spikes, by the time we were leaving, most of the snow was gone. Most of the trail was snow covered at the beginning, so I recommend waterproof shoes or gaiters. The snow was about 14" deep in some spots. Once you're on the trail, it is an easy upward walk with two small creek crossing. Once you get to the 2/3 it turns to extremely challenging. It was almost straight up, this is where you gain the most elevation. There where points where I was climbing, not hiking, using my hands and feet. When you get to the final third, things start to level out and become easy again. The views are good the whole way up, but not great. You can see a lot because the trees are bare this time of year. When you reach the top there are several rock faces with small openings with glimpses of the views, mostly to the east of Newfound Lake. We saw bear and deer tracks, so come prepared with your preferred method of defense. If you have bad knees I would not recommend this hike. I would recommend for intermediate level hikers. I would recommend other hikes where you get more of a payoff at the top before this one, but if you are looking for a challenging hike I would say do this one. Good luck!

8 months ago

This is great for what it is - a short easy hike with a nice rewarding view. About 1 and 1/2 round trip.

hiking
9 months ago

This trail presented a humbling challenge to my intermediate ability. The trail was slow and steady in the beginning. It then becomes the steepest slab of rock I've ever navigated on foot.(and all fours at one point with my knees not hitting the ground). My short stature was not an asset on this hike. The final ascent to the top required rock climbing without any safety apparatus. This was the mental challenge of the hike. My fingers were two inches too short to reach the rocks edge to pull myself up. My steady footing(I love you KEEN) pushed me through the tiny crevasse to reach the "hand hold" to then pull myself up. The sign at the trailhead is 100% truth. The hike was rewarding because it was a beautiful panoramic view at the top.

hiking
9 months ago

Holt to Holt-Clark cut off at Grand Junction. Clark to summit, to Mowglis to Firescrew- and descent Manning trail. Loved this hike. Very steep places on ascent and descent. Great challenge, beautiful day, foliage views, sweeping vistas, places to stop. Dry weather recommended.

hiking
9 months ago

First time up this mountain, definitely earned my respect. The trail was very easy until the final pitch to the summit ... aggressive slabs and cracks but doable. Would be unsettling if wet. Excellent 360 views from the summit. Great little shelf out of the wind for lunch or a nap. Agree with others not to descend upper Holt. Wonderful hike all around!

hiking
9 months ago

We had the mountain to ourselves yesterday! Great hike!

9 months ago

10/04/17 Third time up Cardigan (2nd time up Holt) awesome top, hasn't disappointed yet!" Descended Fire Screw to Manning. Would not recommend going down Holt.

hiking
9 months ago

Went up Holt, to Mowglis, then descended down Manning. This was really tough going up for me, steep slabs with very few handholds. Required some holding on/climbing and I am lacking in upper-body strength dept. If I were alone, I could see contemplating turning back, but there's sort of a point of no return (in wet conditions, like my hike) and I was past that anyway when having difficulties. I've hiked a lot, hikes rated "hard", but this was no joke!

hiking
9 months ago

I would say that this was by far the hardest trail I have ever hiked. I don’t know why this trail isn’t on the NH most terrifying trails. People who have reviewed this trail before have talked about hitting a point of no return. I would say about three quarters of the way through this trail you hit the point of no return. It’s very steep and it would be very difficult to safely turn around to back track. There wasn’t a moment that my heart wasn’t racing because of how steep and scary this trail was. Now I know there are a lot more advanced hikers that have gone up this trail and said it wasn’t too difficult, but for a beginner to intermediate hiker this was extremely difficult. I would say that the steepest and scariest part of the trail is the very top of the trail. The rock face is easily at a 70 degree angle, the pictures I have seen online don’t do this part justice. There is an over-hanging rock that will help you get up this section, but the hand and foot holds aren’t as good as everyone has made them out to be. I would say beating this trail there wasn't so much a sense of accomplishment but relief. Take the Clark trail down, its quite easy and was a much needed break after going up the Holt trail.

hiking
10 months ago

This was my first hill climb, as I just moved here, and I had my 115 lb. Choc. Lab with me. We had a blast but learned the hard way to take a map along. Instead of veering left when the trail split we followed the Holt trail. I hadn't read anything about the difficulty we would encounter and should have done some more prep work. This trail is definitely not for beginners or dogs. We did about as well as we could hope for, almost reaching the top, but realized the folly of attempting anymore. Live to climb another day! I WILL be climbing much more, but will definitely delve deeper into directions and advice before attempting any more hiking. Even though it wasn't a complete success, my best buddy and I are hooked and at 60, will be trying to do the 48 before I'm wormfood.:)

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked Bear Mtn Trail this morning w/my dog, although she peeled off 15 minutes into the first steep part. :) Out and back trip was a leisurely hour. Didn't see anything or anyone. View of N'Found Lake from the summit was blocked by leaves, sure it is better in other seasons. Peaceful hike. Grateful for the yellow trail blazes.

10 months ago

This is a challenging hike and definitely not for kids. Like others have mentioned, be sure to have grippy shoes and do not go when its wet. There were several places to stop along the way to catch your breath and take in the beautiful views. Once you start scaling the rock, you're committed so be sure you're up for the challenge!

11 months ago

Couldn't ask for a better view!

11 months ago

Great hike with great views.

hiking
11 months ago

So fun! Challenging, so avoid during wet or icy weather.

11 months ago

Great easy trail, nice view over lake. Going in spring and you will be swarmed with mosquitoes.

hiking
11 months ago

Bear Mt. Hebron NH
Approached from Bear Mt. trail off Bear Mt rd off West Shore Rd. First 100' or so of trail overgrown with berry bushes but OK to follw if you pay attention to yellow marked trees. Elwell trail just up the road a better entrance but just as steep overall. Bbear Mt. trail has better footing as it's rockier. View is just OK down to Newfound Lake. Only met 2 other hikers who came over from Sugarloaf and that was OK with me!

trail running
11 months ago

Technical terrain, great hike up.. connects from little sugar loaf as well. About a 3 mile hike from little sugar loaf to bear mountain.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Not good for kids very steep parts not well maintained

hiking
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Great hike with fantastic views!

hiking
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

challenging trail, hiking shoes are a must.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Nice, quiet hike but not much for views from the top. I hadn't realized that I had reached he summit until I was on my way back down again.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fun, quick hike.

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