First Whites Hike of the Summer Season: Kinsman Range

Most people start their hiking season in May, typically during Memorial Day weekend. For us, that didn’t happen this year. With weddings (including our own) and a few hiccups (car and health problems), we finally started off our summer hiking in the White Mountains the weekend after July 4th. Our first two attempts were for Mount Cabot and we never summited. We thought with our next attempt of a 4,000-footer hike would best not be Mount Cabot. Save our last attempt for another time – third time’s the charm right? Instead, we opted for North Kinsman (4,293 feet) and South Kinsman (4,358 feet), located in the Kinsman Range in Franconia, New Hampshire.

We began our hike on the Lonesome Lake Trail located in the Lafayette Place Parking Lot in Franconia Notch State Park. The first 1.5 miles are fairly easy with flat, gradual ascending terrain starting by cutting through the campground. It is a very popular hike as many families like to hike to, and stay at, the Lonesome Lake Hut. We were actually surprised to see many families on the trail as it was a rainy day and not all too pleasant to hike in. I was certainly having an off day as it was a combination of not feeling too well and hiking my first 4,000-footer hike in about eight months. It was definitely a slow hike to begin with.

From the Lonesome Lake Hut, it’s a moderate, rocky (and wet) 2.2-mile ascent on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail/Appalachian Trail and another 0.4-mile until the summit of North Kinsman. Nothing too thrilling to see at the summit as it is directly on the trail. We didn’t stop as a Boston AMC group was taking their break on the North Kinsman summit and we would be retracing our steps to descend back to our car.


This is the only indication that you’ve reached the North Kinsman summit.

We continued 0.9 miles on the Kinsman Ridge trail to South Kinsman. This portion of the trail is much more pleasant and easy to deal with as it is along the ridgeline and only a few hundred feet in descending and acceding between the two peaks. We encountered three hikers who were surprised to see others on the trail. Surprise surprise! There are people who will hike – rain or shine. Anyhow, the summit is just off to the east of the trail in an open area. No sign marks the summit but it’s obvious as the trail descends on either of the point as we looked around to make sure. We took a break to eat but it didn’t last long as the weather was still wet and cold. We took our obligatory summit photos and made our way back to North Kinsman to do the same as the Boston AMC group was gone.


Family photo on South Kinsman.

The 2.2-mile descent on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail was a slow one with steep, slippery rocks to contend with. When I was about ¼ mile from the Lonesome Lake Hut, Chris and Milo turned around to see where I was at as I was taking a little longer than usual. My excuse was that I stopped to eat as I’m not a big fan of eating on the go.

Just a little beyond the junction of Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and Lonesome Lake Trail, we saw some stopped hikers as they saw a single rose off the trail. It was perfectly planted rose that seemed amiss in these New England woods. It was definitely a sight to see but pretty cool. We’ll chalk it up to Sasquatch.


The magical rose.

It was easy peasy from the Lonesome Lake Hut to the Lafayette Place Parking Lot. We were a bit speedier towards the tail end and made it back to the car in good time. Overall, an 11.2-mile easy to moderate hike that can certainly be done with family members of all ages. With the Kinsman mountains complete, that means five more to go! The countdown is on.

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:
The Kinsman’s are an easy to moderate hike. The easiest parts are the 1.5 miles on the Lone Lake Trail as they are flat and gradual ascending terrain and the 0.9 miles on the ridge to South Kinsman as they are also pretty flat. The only difficult part would be the 2.2 miles on the Fishin’ Jimmy Trail and 0.4 miles on the Kinsman Ridge Trail as the terrain is more moderate and steep but certainly do-able. No need to boost your pooch for any part of this hike. There’s also plenty of water along the trail, including at the Lone Lake Hut, in case your dog needs some hydration. Overall, a great, long hike for your furry companion that will surely tucker them out by the end of the day! Milo surely loved it despite being wet and muddy from all the rain.




A Holiday Weekend in the Whites: Carters

Let me preface by saying I am behind on writing recaps on my hikes. Life’s been hectic this past year with wedding planning and switching jobs. Needless to say, I’m back to a somewhat “normal” schedule. This hike you’ll be reading about occurred during Thanksgiving 2015 weekend so please excuse the extreme tardiness.

A holiday weekend isn’t the same without an overnight hike. The mountains of choice? Carter Dome (4,832 feet), South Carter (4,430 feet), and Middle Carter (4,610 feet), located in the Carter-Moriah Range just northeast of Pinkham Notch. Along for the ride were Chris and Rob (Chris’ dad and now my FIL). We opted to not bring Milo as that Thanksgiving weekend brought cold temperatures and sleet.

The journey started at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail parking lot off of Route 16/Pinkham Notch Road. Geared up and ready to take on the cold weather, we started on the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, hiking 1.9 miles to the junction with Carter Dome Trail to continue 1.9 miles on the Carter Dome Trail. Both trails are relatively easy to begin with gradual increase of incline. Once at the junction of Carter Dome Trail-Carter Moriah Trail-Zeta Pass, we veered right on Zeta Pass to find a camping spot to unload all our gear as we didn’t want to carry it with us to the Carter Dome summit. Unloading gear, pitching the tent, and eating lunch didn’t take long as sitting idle made us cold.


We opted to conquer just one summit for the day: Carter Dome. From the junction, it’s 0.2 miles on Zeta Pass and 0.8 miles on the Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail. Nothing too hard to do except for some icy patches which were easy to hike around. There are no views from the summit. We thought about hiking onward to Wildcat (A Peak) but with the weather and mid-afternoon time, we opted not to. Instead we hiked back to camp and enjoyed an early dinner and bedtime. When I say early, it was probably 6:00/7:00pm when we decided to all tuck ourselves in the tent. We only vacated the tent once during the night – all together as nature called and if we’re all up, might as well right? I don’t think any of us slept through the whole night with the freezing temperatures. All three of us were in the tent but that didn’t help much.


Just sitting on a bench at the Carter Dome Trail-Carter Moriah Trail-Zeta Pass junction.


Carter Dome…not much a dome.


USGS marker on Carter Dome.

Well, it was early to bed, early to rise. We packed our gear and headed 0.8 miles on the Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail to South Carter and continued 1.3 miles on the same trail to Middle Carter. It was a sunny cold day and I think all of us were ready to be done with the hike, especially Chris since he wasn’t feeling too well. Despite the feelings, there were great views along the ridgeline.


South Carter


Not impressed with Middle Carter.


There are views from the ridgeline!

We made our way home by taking Carter-Moriah Trail/Appalachian Trail (0.6 miles) to North Carter Trail (1.2 miles) to Imp Trail (3.2 miles). All were easy descents though at one point Chris and I switched packs so I would carry the heavy load. At the end of Imp Trail, Rob walked the mile or so on Route 16 back to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail Parking Lot to retrieve the car while Chris and I did some dancing to keep warm. All in all, it was about a 13-mile hike over two days. The hike can easily be done in a single day but we opted to overnight it just because it was a holiday weekend and we wanted to. It can also be made into a longer hike with the Wildcats but that might some overachieving!

32px-Black_Paw.svgA Dog’s Walk:

The Carters are an easy to moderate hike. The trails (Nineteen Mile Brook, Carter Dome, Zeta Pass, Carter-Moriah, North Carter, and Imp Trail) are easy on the legs for both humans and dogs as it is a gradual ascent and descent. There are also a lot less rocks and more dirt then your usual trails for the Whites which means this is a bit easier on your dog’s pads as well. The only thing to worry about is bringing enough water for your dog as there are no streams along the route. And if you’re hiking in the winter, be sure to dress your pooch appropriately (coat and booties) as they too can become cold despite their fur!



© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2017