We took the broken-out herd path along the river to bypass the first mile of the roadwalk, but it wandered extensively side-to-side, and we ended up cutting a few of the corners off. But it was some rough footing in places due to a lumpy surface that had frozen hard like that due to warm temps the weekend before and then cold weather during the week. We were glad to finally hit the road, which is a main snowmobile route in winter, which offered much nicer footing, even if it was more boring.
|The Signal Ridge Trailhead|
|Snowmobile-packed Sawyer River Road at the trailhead for the Signal Ridge Trail|
At the old trail junction, which is in a clearing and is pretty obvious, a simple small arrow carved into a block of wood indicates that the trail heads to the right. To the left of this sign is a large tree that was placed to block the old route. A year or so ago the AMC put in a major re-route in this area, routing the Signal Ridge Trail further along what used to be the start of the Carrigain Notch Trail before then switchbacking up a small ridge to rejoin the old route. Back in November I traveled the new reroute for the first time (incidentally with IQuest and Marlie after we bushwhacked to Carrigain from Vose Spur), and it is a bit obnoxious. It adds about 1/4-mile to the one-way distance of the trail to Carrigain, and it also adds a rather obnoxious ~100ft PUD (pointless up and down) to the route. The AMC must have had a reason for the route they chose, but today we weren't going to play along. The snowshoe trench split here, with folks having followed both routes. We took the shorter, old route, and in a matter of only a few minutes we saw the reroute rejoin the trail. It is clearly MUCH shorter along the old route, and we were on our way.
|A peek through the trees on the Signal Ridge Trail|
|Pano from Signal Ridge - the cliffs of Mount Lowell right in front|
|The Presidential Range|
|Vose Spur, on the side of Mount Carrigain|
|Signal Ridge up to the summit of Carrigain|
|Vose Spur on the right and the ridge up to Carrigain. Hard to believe I climbed that!|
|The observation tower on Carrigain from Signal Ridge|
|Marlie on Signal Ridge|
|The Hancocks with Moosilauke between in the distance|
|Tripyramids, Osceolas, and Hancocks from Signal Ridge|
|The Bonds and Twins|
|Climbing the stairs of the observation tower|
|Partial pano from Carrigain - Chocorua through the Bonds|
|Partial pano from Carrigain - Bonds through Osceolas|
|Partial pano from Carrigain - Osceolas through Kearsarge North|
|Passaconaway, Whiteface, Sleepers, Tripyramids (L->R)|
On the way down, just below the summit we ran into the first people we'd seen all day. Some more pictures along Signal Ridge, and then we ducked below treeline to hike the steady hike out. In the upper switchbacks below Signal Ridge we saw 3 more people, wrapping the total for the day up at 5. A nice, quiet day on the trails, aside from the snowmobiles on the road walk out (which were all polite, slowed down as they passed us, and overall were not a problem).
Thanks again for the great hike IQuest, and for getting another one off your list too!
Route: Sawyer River Road, Signal Ridge Trail
Peaks: Carrigain (4700', NH4K)
Mileage: 14 miles
Elevation Gain: 4000 feet
Book Time: 9 hours (actual 7hr 15min)