South Carter Mountain is a 4,430 foot mountain located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It lies in the Carter-Moriah Range, running along the northeastern side of Pinkham Notch.
Elevation: 4,430 feet
Elevation gain: 4,698 feet
Distance: 9.2 miles
Duration (book time): 5 hours
Nineteen Mile Brook Trail, Carter Dome Trail
Begin your hike at the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail Parking lot. Start hiking up the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail for 1.9 miles until you reach a junction with the Carter Dome Trail. Here, stay left onto the Carter Dome Trail for another 1.9 miles until you reach the junction with Zeta Pass to your right, and the Carter-Moriah Trail (Appalachian Trail) to your left. Stay left on the Carter-Moriah Trail and hike for another 0.8 miles until you reach the summit of South Carter Mountain. To descend, simply retrace your steps the way you came until you reach the trailhead parking lot.
Loop Hike Option
Hiking both South Carter and Middle Carter mountains together works best with a car spot. You will start on the Imp Trail and follow along until reaching the junction with North Carter Trail. You will traverse Middle Carter and South Carter, and begin your descent on the Carter Dome Trail to Nineteen Mile Brook Trail back to Route 16. The Imp trailhead is about 1.5 miles to the north.
When hiking this loop, you may notice a trial that connects the IMP trail to Camp Dodge. This trail will save you around .5 miles of hiking if you choose to take this cutoff.
Elevation gain: 3700 feet
Distance: 10.8 miles roundtrip
Duration: 6.5 hours
Camping and Overnight Hiking Options
The AMC Carter Notch Hut, which is open year around, is a couple miles to the South across Carter Dome. There is a small fee to stay and reservations are recommended during the busy season.
Hiking In Winter
Be prepared for changing weather and carry the proper gear that’s needed for hiking in snow and ice. Always check the Mount Washington Observatory’s Higher Summits forecast before heading out.
The steepest and iciest section of this hike can be avoided. However, if hikers are ascending to the Carter Dome, Middle Carter, or South Carter from the 19 Mile Brook Trail, or Carter Hut, they will immediately ascend an extremely steep and often icy section.
The trailhead for the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail is located off route 16 between North Conway and Gorham, New Hampshire. There is plenty of roadside parking.
From I-93, take exit 35 where you will end up on US-3 / N towards Twin Mountain / Lancaster. Continue along for roughly 12 miles and then turn right onto NH 115 N. Continue for 9.6 miles and turn right onto US-2 E / Presidential Hwy. Drive for another 12 miles and make a turn onto Main Street. Drive 1.4 miles and turn NH-16 S / Glen Road. Drive for roughy 6.8 more miles until you reach the parking lot for the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead.
Always be sure to check the Mount Washington Observatory higher summits forecast before heading out on any day hike. The ridges are fairly exposed to weather even though they are not above treeline in the Carter-Moriah area, so plan accordingly.
Here is a detailed forecast for the next four days:
Rain and isolated thunderstorms before 1am, then a chance of rain showers. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Cloudy. Low around 44, with temperatures rising to around 50 overnight. South wind 30 to 40 mph, with gusts as high as 60 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible.
Scattered rain showers. Mostly cloudy. High near 50, with temperatures falling to around 38 in the afternoon. South wind 25 to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
Scattered rain showers before 7pm, then a slight chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 23. South wind 20 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
A chance of snow showers after 8am. Partly sunny, with a high near 26. South wind 20 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 20. Southwest wind 20 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New snow accumulation of less than half an inch possible.
Scattered snow showers before 7am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 27. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
A slight chance of snow showers between 7pm and 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26.
Andrea is a writer, hiker, and adventurer from New England. She enjoys snowboarding, sunrise hikes, winter, night hiking, traveling, and photography.