Carter Dome is a mountain just west of Mt. Washington in the Moriah-Wildcat Ridge. The mountain consists of three peaks. The top of the central dome affords views of Mt Washington and the Presidential range on clear days. The AMC runs a hut in Carter Notch just below the peak, which is heated year round.
Driving: ~100 miles (2.5 hours) Hiking: Multiple routes 4+ miles each way
Get online directions to Gorham, NH. The trailhead to Nineteen Mile Brook is along Rt 16. Access to Carter Dome from this trailhead either directly or via the Carter Notch Hut (run by the AMC). Other access across the Moriah-Wildcat Ridge.
Advice and Anecdotes
The top of Carter Dome is relatively covered by trees and low brush, with less exposure than most other mountains in the area (specifically the Presidentials). The Wildcat Ridge can be fairly exposed, however, along with some of the nearby peaks. All in all, this mountain is a good alternative if conditions are not as good, but is still a difficult hike and high elevation, so be sure to check weather reports and trail reports ahead of time, and have a backup.
12/09/2011 (Wheatstarch) Leaders: Kyle Heppenstall '13 and Charlie Governali '12
Trippees: Krystyna Oszkinis, David CS, Joey, Molly, Eliza (5)
8:00 am â€“ 3.8 mi Parked at trailhead, started on left of parking area Began a gradual ascent up the Nineteen Mile Brook trail. There was minimal snow coverage, and a few tributaries to cross, but were all small enough to step over. These could become icy in colder weather. Most of the way up was gradual, but there was a steep section near the hut. 10:30 am â€“ We arrived at the hut and decided to stay there for lunch. We enjoyed the views of the Carter lakes and the steep mountain faces. Really cool boulder field to deep secluded pond. Overall incredible place! Seriously. Many boots melted in the hut â€“ switched socks and warmed feet. Started to snow a bit. Cloudy skies but still good visibility.
~11/11:15 am â€“ 3.1 mi Began out ascent up Carter Dome Trail. Pretty much immediately the trail became more steep than any point on the 19 Mile. Snow accumulations were about 1-3 in. in places, mostly on the lower side. Views through the trees, as well as the snow on the pine trees encouraged more steps to take in what were surely the best views of the trip so far. The steepness of the trail aggravated a hip flexor injury.
Though not quite a bald summit there was a clearing and we enjoyed incredible views of the Prezis (this was best a bit down the trail no the descent â€“ 70 yrds, to the left.) Skies were clear + wind minimal. We were considering continuing to Mt. Height, but due to time and injuries decided to head straight down. Brought microspikes, werenâ€™t necessary
2/18/12 Leaders: Suzanne Kelson '12 and Paige Wilson '14
Tripees: Ellen Meyer, Jonathon King, Jennifer Estrada
8:00am left Billings Cabin in Randolph, NH 8:15am got sprinter van stuck in Billings Cabin's driveway 11:00am give up trying to get sprinter out of driveway and call for tow. Are informed that the driveway must be sanded before truck driver will come to tow us out. 11:15am realize that there is a back driveway to Billings. Exit without further incident.
12:00pm Having abandoned the initial plan to hike up to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, we drive to the trailhead to Carter Dome on Rt 16 for Nineteen Mile Brook Trail. Most of the way up was gradual, following the brook. Looked beautiful with the snow cover and ice. Some places had slippery or thin trail, so had to travel with caution. Some people hiking with snowshoes, we were in microspikes only.
12:45pm Reach intersection with Carter Dome Trail on left (~1.9 miles from trailhead). Began to ascend gradually (about same steepness as the start of Nineteen Mile Brook), then became more steep with multiple switchbacks rising in ravine. Beautiful scenery, many pine trees. Snow fall only around 1-3 inches. Low visibility, with temperatures in teens to single digits.
2:30pm reach Zeta Pass (~3.8 miles from trailhead), a beautiful notch set before the summit of Mt Height. Ate a late lunch quickly, then started on the last mile or so to the summit of Carter Dome. Note: the sign from Zeta Pass says the summit is ~1.8 miles away, but this is only if you take the detour up Mt. Height and then on to Carter Dome. If you skirt the summit of Mt. Height and head straight for Carter, the distance is only ~1 mile from Zeta Pass. I have read that the views from Mt. Height are better than Carter Dome, but Carter is higher.
From this point on the terrain is steep, but only about as steep as the previous section. The trail skirts around the shoulder of Mt. Height, with trails leading off left to the summit of Mt. Height, and a fairly steep drop off to the right. Snow here was much deeper (as much as a couple feet) but packed down enough for us to travel with just micro spikes on (and one tripee who refused to put his on). If this had not been President's Day weekend and the trail had been less well traveled, snowshoes might have been necessary.
3:15pm reach the top of Carter Dome. Windier on top, but some tree cover. Large snowdrifts on sides of trail. Beautiful weather, somewhat overcast and chilly, but gorgeous on top. We weren't able to see the Presis but I am told you usually can see Mt Washington across the way. Trail continues on to Carter Notch Hut and over across the rest of Wildcat Ridge, but we turned around here. Descent was much faster, although we were moving about as fast as possible. Made it back to the car around 5:30pm, just before dark.
Overall, the hike was not as strenuous as some others in the nearby Presidentials, but was still difficult. Our times should be taken liberally, as we were a small and generally fast moving group.