Third Time is the Charm: Mount Cabot

Mount Cabot. The one mountain that has eluded us this whole summer. We attempted to hike Mount Cabot two times before this past weekend. First time we were about a mile away from the trailhead when our car started to make a funny noise so we stopped and checked to see what it was. Turns out we had a broken water pump. Cue AAA and a trip to the local dealership. Second time we were 1.5 mile in on Bunnell Notch Trail when we decided to turn around because Chris’ asthma was acting up. After those two failed attempts, we swore off Cabot for the time being as we had other 4,000-footers to conquer. Well the time came around where we had to attempt it again. It was between Cabot or the Wildcats and we chose the former as we wanted to leave something a bit more challenging and rewarding to finish up our NH48 goal.

Mount Cabot, at an elevation of 4,170 feet, is located down the road from the Berlin Fish Hatchery in Berlin, NH. It’s WAY up there. It’s probably one of my least favorite hikes for the sole reason of it being so far away. It takes about 3.5 hours from Boston and including this trip, we’ve done the drive three times. It’s a route we have memorized and I don’t think it’s something to be proud of. It’s also a hike that’s easy. No steep elevation to contend with. Just gradual elevation for a (mostly) view-less summit.

It was a late start for the hike, around 9:30/10:00 a.m. Go figure because of how long the drive is. We decided to do an out-and-back hike via Bunnell Notch Trail as it is the shortest distance of the choices at 9.4 miles. We parked at the Unknown Pond park area and walked the short distance to the Bunnell Notch trail head. We were surprised at how many cars were at the trail head as the previous two attempts there were only a handful, if that. The beginning of the three miles on Bunnell Notch Trail is flat and overgrown with all sorts of plants. It just looked like a jungle to me where Chris and I had to lift our arms over our heads to avoid the heavy undergrowth and prickers at times. Milo had less difficulty as he’s only a foot tall and avoided most of the stalks. At 0.2 miles, we stayed right at the junction of York Pond Trail and Bunnell Notch Trail to continue on Bunnell Notch.

For the rest of Bunnell Notch Trail, it was your typical New England Trail with a mixture of rocks, tree roots, and mud. There is a brook that runs alongside much of the trail so there are a few minor stream crossings. We did take a lot of breaks as it was quite humid out. Milo was a bit sluggish, drinking water whenever he had a chance and not caring if he went into the water for stream crossings. At the junction of Bunnell Notch Trail and Kilkenny Ridge Trail, we continued straight as we had 1.7 miles on Kilkenny Ridge Trail to the summit of Mount Cabot. Along the way we encountered an old sign for Mount Cabot Trail, a trail that is no longer maintained or open to the public as it is on private land. The path down is blocked by wood but others have written on the sign to point hikers in the right direction of the summit.

We knew Cabot Cabin was close as we could hear a loud group of women. We didn’t stop at the cabin but instead opted to head towards a viewing area beyond it. We were greeted by three Bernese Mountain dogs – a sight you don’t see often when hiking – and their owners. One of them was named Cabot, so Cabot on his namesake. With Cabot being his name, I wonder what the other two dogs were named…

We took a lunch break in this spot before heading off to Mount Cabot’s summit which gave the boisterous ladies a head start so we could have the summit to ourselves. Not wanting to bake in the sun any longer, we headed the 0.4 miles to the summit, encountering the ladies who were on their way back. Apparently they didn’t know where the summit was and turned back, even though they had a trail map. I also want to add that one of them had the 4,000-footer AMC patch on their packs. I think that patch was achieved by someone else if she couldn’t find Cabot’s summit? We kept trucking along and found the open area where the summit was. It was marked well with a sign and cairn. Not all that hard to miss?!


You certainly can’t miss these signs on Mount Cabot’s summit.


With obligatory photos taken, we headed back the way we came with a pit stop at Cabot Cabin to see what was inside. It was a good set up from the elements with great notes and drawings from previous adventurers. Overall, the hike itself was one of the fastest we’ve done and could’ve been much faster if we decided to put more effort into it. It helped that it was a pretty easy hike to contend with.


A panorama of Mount Cabot’s innards.


This means there are only two summits left on our NH48 list!


A Dog’s Walk:
Mount Cabot is an easy 9.4-mile hike consisting of typical New England trail conditions: rocks, tree roots, and this time mud. It’s a gradual elevation gain for half and pretty flat for the rest, making it easy on joints for both dogs and humans. Dogs of all sizes can hike this as we saw a Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, and three Bernese Mountain dogs on the trails. There is plenty of water as there is a stream that runs along side and often crossing the Bunnell Notch Trail. And, dogs are allowed in Cabot Cabin as it is not the usual staffed AMC hut or cabin. It’s more of a shelter with the bare necessities with no kitchen or stove so dogs could certainly sleep here with their human companions.

[BONUS: I brought my GoPro this time so enjoy a few clips from our hike.]



© Elizabeth Tran 2011-2017