Trail: West Ridge Trail
Hours: 2 hiking, 3 total
April 17, 2016
Mt. Cardigan (3,155’) is often compared to Mt. Monadnock because of its variety of trails, proximity to Boston and beautiful 360° views. Mt. Cardigan had a devastating fire in 1855 that removed all of the summit’s vegetation. To this day, the summit is still bare without much vegetation.
NOTE: The hike to Mt. Cardigan is short and sweet, and it will likely become one of your favorite hikes! Although it is only 3,155 feet tall, it gives hikers the illusion they are much higher because of the beautiful 360° views and bare rock summit. You will be gaining 1,000 feet of elevation over 1.5 miles with most of the elevation being near the summit.
Alex and I began the hike to Mt. Cardigan at 9:00 AM on a beautiful April morning. There were a variety of trails available on Mt. Cardigan, however, we chose West Ridge Trail because it was the most direct route to the summit. The beginning of the ascent had a gradual elevation gain with switchbacks, so it was very easy on our legs. We came to the South Ridge Trail junction and stayed left to continue on the West Ridge Trail. We had to be cautious about where we were going because there are multiple side trails on this route. It would have been very easy to go off route!
At the one mile mark, we came to the Skyland Trail junction and stayed to the right to continue to the summit. Shortly after, we saw the opening to the end of the treeline! I love hiking above the treeline because of the amazing views along the rest of the hike. Mt. Cardigan did not disappoint with its views either. As soon as we broke the treeline, we stopped to take in the views and prepared for the lovely half mile of rock scrambles.
This portion of the trail was where we gained most of the elevation, but we enjoy rock scrambles, so we were excited! There were a few view steep sections here, so we took our time and let our legs rest when they were screaming at us lol. Before we knew it, we were at the summit by 10:00 AM! Since we arrived at the summit quickly, we decided to take an hour to relax and enjoy the beautiful views. It was a beautiful April day, so we were excited to enjoy ourselves on the summit without freezing! We were surprised by the lack of people on the summit, but it made for a more peaceful experience.
After enjoying ourselves, we decided to begin the descent. We heard that the South Ridge Trail descent was “better”, however, we didn’t want to deviate from our main route. It was easier to descend the trail we already knew. The descent down the rock scrambles was fairly easy besides the steeper sections. There were a few wet sections that we did not notice during our ascent, so we took our time and made sure our footing was good. We saw people running down these rock scrambles which gave me anxiety just watching!
The rest of the descent was pretty uneventful and quick, and we were back at our cars at 12:00 PM! We passed a lot of hikers on our descent, so we must have arrived at the trailhead earlier than most. It was nice to have most of the hike be quiet and peaceful!
We really enjoyed this hike and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great, easy hike with beautiful views!