Table of Contents

Carter Notch Hut (elevation 3,300 feet) is the easternmost of the AMC huts. Like the Lonesome Lake and Zealand Huts it is accessible without too much effort, and like them it is open in winter. In winter it is used far more by snowshoers than by skiers, as the final parts of both the Nineteen Mile Brook and Wildcat River trails are too steep for most skiers.

Its setting, below the steep faces of Wildcat and Carter Dome, is impressive. Closer to the hut there is the impressive jumble of rocks known as "The Ramparts", as well as the two lakes. It is open year round on a low cost "self service" basis:

At AMC Self-service huts, guests provide their own food and have full use of the hut's stove, oven, and cookware to prepare their own meals. Bunks, mattresses, and pillows are provided, but blankets are not. Be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag if you're staying at a self-service hut.

The AMC web site has a page on the Carter Notch Hut, with information on the hut, season of operation and rates. Here I give hiking information that supplements what they offer, describing the most frequently used access routes (with distances, elevation gains and book time), and some of the trips that can utilize the hut, including hut to hut trips.

Carter Notch Hut in Winter

The cooking and dining areas are heated (moderately!) in winter, but the remote bunkhouses are not. Temperatures may be expected to be about as cold as in a tent, so a real winter bag, rated to about -20°F, is advisable.

Getting to Carter Notch Hut and Back

Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

The standard way of reaching the hut is by the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail (ow: 3.8 miles, 1,900 feet, 2:50). The final climb to the height of land is a bit steeper than the rest of trail, after that it drops to the lakes and the hut. There is a 100 foot climb on the way back (ow: 3.8 miles, 100 feet, 1:55).

In either direction it is possible to add a climb over Carter Dome by taking the Nineteen Mile Brook, Carter Dome and Carter-Moriah trails (ow: 6.4 miles, 3,350 feet, 4:50). While the views from Carter Dome are good, even better views can be had from Mount Height. This adds 0.2 miles and 150 feet, or about ten minutes hiking time.

Wildcat Ridge Trail

A second approach is going over the Wildcats (ow: 5.1 miles, 3,150 feet, 4:10). The Wildcat Ridge Trail starts on Rt 16 at the Glenn Ellis Falls parking lot, and immediately crosses the Ellis River, meeting the Lost Pond Trail. The climb from there to the E peak is steep and rough, with ledges that can be dangerous if wet or icy. The ridge itself has many ups and downs, with steep and rough sections. The final descent from the A peak to the hut is again steep. It is not an easy trail, especially with a full pack! The return trip is equally rough, but with slightly less elevation gain (ow: 5.1 miles; 1,750 feet; 3:25).

As the crossing of the Ellis River is sometimes difficult many hikers start at Pinkham Notch taking the Lost Pond Trail, which adds 0.9 miles and 100 feet, 30 minutes of hiking time. That is the route the Appalachian Trail takes.

Wildcat River Trail

This much less frequently used trail approaches the notch from the south (ow: 4.3 miles; 1,550 feet; 2:55). It branches off the Bog Brook Trail, which starts on the Carter Notch Road. The Bog Brook Trail has three stream crossings that may be difficult at high water, they can be bypassed by continuing along the extension of Carter Notch Road (FR 233, unpaved) to the point where the Bog Brook Trail crosses the road.

The Wildcat River Trail itself climbs at a moderate grade most of the way, but becomes a bit steeper as it approaches the notch. The return trip involves a minor climb of 50 feet on the Bog Brook Trail (ow: 4.3 miles; 50 feet; 2:10).

Getting to Carter Notch Hut and Back
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
To hut, 19 Mile Brook 3.8 1,900 2:50
To hut, Wildcat Ridge 5.1 3,150 4:10
From hut, 19 Mile Brook 3.8 100 1:55
To hut, Bog Brook and Wildcat River 4.3 1,550 2:55
From hut, Wildcat Ridge 5.1 1,750 3:25
Addition for Carter Dome 2.6 1,450 2:00
From hut, Bog Brook and Wildcat River 4.3 50 2:10
Addition for Lost Pond Trail 0.9 100 0:30

Hikes From Carter Notch Hut

The Wildcats

The climb from the hut to the A peak of Wildcat is short but steep (rt: 1.8 miles; 1,150 feet; 1:30). There is a viewpoint close to the summit with excellent views of the notch. Peakbaggers may want to go further and bag the D peak as well (6.4 miles; 2,750 feet; 4:35). Note that traversing the ridge in both directions is quite a strenuous undertaking, as the terrain is rough and there are many ups and downs.

The Carters

The climb to Carter Dome is as short and as steep as the climb to Wildcat A (rt: 2.6 miles; 1,550 feet; 2:05). Carter Dome has good views, but even better views can be had by continuing along the Cater-Moriah Trail to Mount Height (4.2 miles; 2,000 feet; 3:05).

Hikes From Carter Notch Hut
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Wildcat A 1.8 1,150 1:30
Wildcats A and D 6.4 2,750 4:35
Carter Dome 2.6 1,550 2:05
Carter Dome and Mount Height 4.2 2,000 3:05

Routes to Neighboring Huts

Routes to Madison Hut

The easier route is by the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail to Rt 16, walking north on the road for about half a mile, and then taking the Great Gulf and Osgood trails to the hut (ow: 9.4 miles; 3,950 feet; 6:40). A longer and much more strenuous way is to follow the AT over the Wildcats to Pinkham, then take the Old Jackson Road, Madison Gulf and Osgood Trails (13.6 miles; 5,850 feet; 9:45).

Route to Pinkham Notch

The At can be used to return to Pinkham Notch over the Wildcats (ow: 6.0 miles; 1,750 feet; 3:50).

From Carter Notch Hut to Neighboring Huts
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
To Madison Hut by 19 Mile Brook and Osgood 9.4 3,950 6:40
To Madison Hut by AT 13.6 5,850 9:45
To Pinkham by AT 6.0 1,750 3:50