Route: Carter Moriah Range Traverse (NH)

New Hampshire, US
19.2 mi
Vertical Gain
6,600 ft

Originally the route was from Rattle River Trail Head as also seen from the early FKTs. Now the trail goes from Gorham and the Carter Moriah TH at Bangor St.

The Dartmouth Outing Club describes the route:

The Carter Traverse is a strenuous 20-mile hike over the Carter-Moriah and Wildcat ranges of the White Mountains, on the east side of Pinkham Notch. It covers six 4,000-foot summits and, despite having no above-tree line areas, provides outstanding views of the Presidentials.

Follow the Carter-Moriah Trail 4.5 miles to the summit of Mt. Moriah. Right after the summit, the Carter-Moriah Trail converges with the AT, and you follow the white blazes for the rest of the hike. After another 3.7 miles you come to the summit of North Carter Mountain (an "unofficial" peak), followed 0.9 miles later by Middle Carter Mountain, and 1.3 miles after that by South Carter Mountain. Middle or South Carter is a good spot for a lunch break. The AT then descends and joins the Carter Dome Trail 1.2 miles later. The two trails run concurrently for 0.2 miles and then split again. From this intersection you have two options:

  • Carter-Moriah Trail (AT): follow the white blazes 0.4 miles up to the summit of Mt. Hight. This is the only bald summit on the traverse and has great views of the Presidentials to the west and the Baldface Royce Range to the east. Then follow the white blazes of the AT another 0.4 miles until it rejoins the Carter Dome Trail.
  • Carter Dome Trail: bypass the summit of Mt. Hight and hike 0.6 miles of the Carter Dome Trail until it rejoins the AT. This route shaves off 0.2 miles.

After the trails rejoin, hike another 0.8 miles to the summit of Carter Dome, the highest point on the traverse. The AT then descends steeply to the AMC Carter Notch Hut, losing 1,500 feet of elevation over 1.3 miles. You can refill water bottles and take a nice break at the hut.

The last leg of the traverse is over the Wildcats. As you follow the AT 1 mile from the hut to Wildcat A, you'll gain 1,000 feet. Then you have 2.1 miles of largely flat trail along Wildcat Ridge until you hit Wildcat D, which has a nice viewing platform. Near the summit of Wildcat D is the top of the Wildcat ski area; there is a large clearing where the gondolas end and the ski runs begin. The trail after Wildcat D starts out flat, but then becomes extremely steep, losing 2,000 feet of elevation in a little over a mile. This descent involves climbing down sheer rock faces, is very hard on the knees and is important to finish before dusk.

When the descent is complete, turn right on the Lost Pond Trail (still part of the AT, so follow the white blazes) and hike the remaining 1 mile to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

Official 4,000 footers on the traverse:

  • Mt. Moriah: 4049
  • Middle Carter: 4610
  • South Carter: 4430
  • Carter Dome: 4832
  • Wildcat A: 4422
  • Wildcat D: 4050

Mike Robinson posted some info on early FKTs & his own (then) FKT run of 8/25/2014:

A little over a month ago I did the Carter Moriah Traverse from North to South.  I finished in over 9 hours.  I started the day with no sleep and intended on bringing my bike to ride up rt 16 to the Carter Moriah Trail head in Gorham.  When I parked at Glen Ellis Falls I realized I had left my front Tire in my driveway.  So, I attempted to hitch but did not get picked up until Dolly Cop.  Then I fell between Moriah and North Carter lightly bruising my ribs and hip.  I went on, got trashed, and was faced with great temptation as I passed the running Tram after the summit of Wildcat D, I did not take it and endured the final, brutal descent.  Once at the bottom I was elated to be finished.

I went home wondering why I hadn't started at Wildcat.  I was also curious to know if there where any documented FKT's for this Range.
This is all I could find:

This was Sue Johnsons' 5 day attempt/success on all 48 4kers, the time was 8 hours 40 minutes, South to North in wet and muddy conditions.

2)  In one of Alex Mcphalls' blogs he suggest that the Carter Moriah Range can be done in 8-9 hours inclueding a bike ride, from the Moriah Trail head to Glen Ellis Falls Parking lot it is 11.4 miles of mostly down hill along rt 16, I figure an average biker could easily do this at 10mph which would take them a little over an hour of biking making the estimated time of 8 to 9 hours, subtracted by 1 hour of downhill biking still in excess 7 to 8 hours to hike the Range.

This is the current report of Ted Keizers' new record on doing all 48 4kers, his time on the Carter Moriah Range was also over 8 hours.

I followed the same trail as both #1 and #3, 
I started my GPS at the Wildcat Trail head after crossing the water as I felt that the crossing could really effect the time depending on the height of the water.
I took Carter Dome Trail to Zeta pass and did not Summit Mt Height, this is also how Ted Keizer and Sue Johnson did their Traverse of the Carter Moriah Range.

My time was 5 hours 40 minutes as verified by GPS

* On Strava there are a few other attempts of the same Traverse, the next fastest total time for a single range attempt is 6 hours 23 minutes run by Lars Blackmore:
(I originally thought his time was 7 hours plus based on the Strava page but I contacted him via email and his actual time was the 6 hour 23 minutes above)    

He starts at rt 16 and thus ran an additional .4 miles on relatively flat trail to start.


The picnic variation completes a loop with a bike ride between trailheads.



I just set a new ladies fkt on this route Sat  July 7, 2018. We had to make a pit stop to splint and bandage my husband Ryan who joined me. He took a very bad fall on the descent into Carter notch and broke his hand and finger. He also suffered a hit to the head and several lacerations. He decided to continue with me after having JP at the Hut help with splinting his fingers, evaluating his head and knee injury and butterfly stitching the deep wounds. Including the stop I finished in 5:13:15. The link to strava is  :

I'm pretty sure this would have taken under 5 hours without the pit stop. I'm really bummed to have my favorite running buddy ( my husband) in a cast for a few weeks.

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Yesterday (July 20, 2024) I did an unsupported out & back double traverse of this route. Started at Carter-Moriah Trailhead, traversed the range, descended to Route 16 on Wildcat Ridge Trail, then turned around and traversed again, ending where I started at Carter-Moriah Trailhead.

I did this solo and unsupported, only getting water from Carter Notch Hut both times I passed it. It was a very hard day and took longer than I would have wanted it to.

I can't find a record of anyone else having done this double traverse, anyone have any info on that? Going to submit my effort though I'm sure someone could do it faster.

Congrats to a great effort and FKT, let's see if others will follow on the double traverse.