State: New Hampshire
Location: White Mountains National Forest
Length, One-Way: 13.5 miles
Trail Type: Out and Back
Minimum Elevation: 800 feet
Maximum Elevation: 4610 feet
Elevation Change: 6000 feet
Best Season: May to September
Difficulty: More Difficult
The Carter-Moriah Trail is one of the major ridge trails of the White Mountains, traversing the Carter Range from Gorham Village to Carter Notch. Like most of the ridge trails, it is rocky with small ledges to scramble up and down and many minor knolls in addition to the major peaks. The south section from Carter Notch to just short of Mount Moriah is part of the Appalachian Trail and heavily used by backpackers as well as day hikers peakbagging the Carters and Mount Moriah. The section north of Mount Moriah is used relatively little although it was once part of the Appalachian Trail.
The Carter-Moriah Trail travels south along an old logging road, climbing and leveling off then ascending again. This pattern is to be repeated many times. About a mile from the start, the trail becomes narrower and more overgrown with some areas worn down to rock. At 2 miles, there is a ledge offering a beautiful overlook. The trail passes Mt. Surprise (el. 2,194 feet). The trail has several elevation gains and losses before beginning a steady climb. A short spur path offers spectacular views from Mt. Moriah (el. 4,049 feet).
Two trails descend from the summit of Mt. Moriah. One trail leads to the Kenduskeag Trail heading left. The other is the Carter-Moriah Trail veering right. At this point you may notice white blazes, signaling that you are overlapping the Appalachian Trail. The trail continues along ridges of Carter Mountain occasionally opening up to fantastic mountain views. After a very short distance, you will come to an intersection with Moriah Trail and Stony Brook Trail. Stony Brook Trail travels back to New Hampshire Route 16 while the Moriah Trail heads east. At 6.6 miles a spur trail descends to reach the Imp campsite. The next 5 miles is a difficult journey over a narrow, slick, rocky trail. The trail reaches Zeta Pass at 11.2 miles, Carter Dome at 12.6 miles (el. 4,832 feet) and Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail at 13.5 miles.
From Gorham, NH:
Travel east on US 2 for about 0.5 miles and make a right onto Bangor Road. Drive another 0.5 miles to the dead-end. This is a narrow street and parking at the end is limited to a couple of spaces on the opposite side from the houses. Parking on Bangor Road is not recommended in winter. You should park elsewhere and walk over.
From Interstate 93:
Take exit 32 off of Interstate 93 near Franconia Notch. Drive 13 miles north on US Route 3 to New Hampshire Route 115. Turn right on Route 115 and follow for about 10 miles to the end at US Route 2. Turn right on US Route 2 and drive 14.5 miles to the Gorham town center. Turn right 5 miles past Gorham just beyond railroad tracks onto Bangor Street and proceed 0.4 miles to the end. Park on the opposite side from the houses as signs allow.