Mt. Cardigan

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Mt. Cardigan
Cardigan summit.jpg
A CnT group atop Cardigan's bald summit, October 2010.
Drive 25 miles
Hike 4 miles
Difficulty Easy

The bare rocky summit of Mount Cardigan, at 3,121 feet, affords a panoramic view stretching from rural New Hampshire in the foreground to the summits of the White Mountains in the distance. In 1855, a devastating fire burned over the summit and removed all the vegetation, including the thin soil. Well over a century later, the summit remains bare of all but a few lichens

Driving Directions

Take Route 120 south from Hanover to I-89 South. Take the first exit onto Route 4 East. Follow Route 4 East for 12.2 miles into the center of Canaan, and turn left onto Route 118 (at the sign for Cardigan Mountain State Park). After 0.6 miles, again at a Cardigan Mountain State Park sign, turn right onto the road to Orange. Pass the town hall and later the school house on the left, cross the bridge over Orange Brook, and stay right at the fork 2.7 miles from Route 118. At 3.4 miles from Route 118, enter Cardigan Mountain State Park and turn left at the top of the hill onto the dirt road that leads uphill 0.7 miles to the picnic area and trailhead

Hiking Directions

Follow the West Ridge Trail from the picnic area by the parking lot 1.5 miles to the summit. Take the Clark Trail down for a short distance, then take a right at the fork to the South Ridge trail, which will return you to the parking lot

A map of all the trails on Cardigan can be found here.

Trip Reports

11/10/2013 Group: Kaila Pedersen (Leader), Joby Bernstein and Spencer Chu (Heeler), 4 tripees. Weather: Partly Cloudy in the low 40s. Snow on the ground from the night before Notes: Trail is slippery in the snow, be aware that it is not safe to go up the West Ridge Trail without poles or crampons. Besides that, the trail is beautiful in the snow.

5/19/2013 Hike led by Steve Tebbe and Fredrik Eriksson Trail in good condition, dry, blazes well marked. Weather fine, colder at the top. Took South Ridge trail down, which is more challenging and not to be done if ground is wet (steep and slippery!). If good conditions, however, this descent is recommended due to good views. Good beginner hike, excellent visibility from top.

5/10/2013 Hike led by Jonathan King and Shea Flanagan The trail was in great condition. Melting snow left a few wet areas that should dry out quickly enough. The blazes are in good condition and the trail was easy to follow, even in the dark. Clear views from the summit, an excellent beginner hike.

4/20/2013 Hike led by Anna Knowles and Jamie Mercado The dirt road was closed, with good reason (it was fairly soft). We headed up West Ridge Trail, which was muddy with quite a lot of water on the trail for the first section (nothing too deep though) before giving way to slushy snow and ice. We were happy to have microspikes for the middle half mile before we got to the rock approaching the summit. The trail was well blazed but the snow and multitude of tracks made it tempting to wander off on the wrong path. The bare summit was terrifically windy and therefore very cold - even though the views were lovely we didn't stay up there long and descended into the trees for a snack break. The whole trip took us a little over four hours including the drive.

9/14/2012 Hike led by Shea Flanagan and Patrick Campbell Cardigan was yet again in great condition. The trails were mostly dry with only a few slick spots. The blazes marked the trails well and we had no trouble navigating. The weather was fantastic and the summit had clear views. The hike is ideal for someone wanting a beginner-level hike with gorgeous views.


Hike led by Max Deibel and Patrick Campbell Mt. Cardigan was in great condition. The trails were in good shape, although a little muddy in sections despite the mild winter. A couple of icy and slushy patches despite it being late in the season. It's very clearly marked and has many evident trailwork projects along it including stairs and bog bridges. The summit is fairly windy, but provides some amazing views (although the fire tower was closed). Great beginner hike!


Hike led by Annie Laurie Mauhs-Pugh and Andrew Milligan Cardigan is in fantastic shape, and looks very well maintained. The weather was great, and when we got to the summit, it was a bit windy, but we had excellent views. Many of our trippees were future First Year Trip leaders, and this trip gave them a good view into Cabin and Trail in preparation. Overall, a very fun hike--easy with great rewards.