The Carter Ledge Trail is the most scenic and least traveled route to the summit of Mt Chocorua. It is a little bit off the beaten track so if you prefer less traveled trails, the Carter Ledge Trail is for you. The Carter Ledge Trail provides striking views of Mt Chocorua, views of other peaks, and lots of blueberries in season. The trail traverses Carter Ledge and journeys over the wide-open knobs known as the Three Sisters. With panoramic views throughout the day, this hike is one you will remember for years to come. The Carter Ledge Trail is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
The Carter Ledge Trail continues beyond Carter Ledge, ending at the Middle Sister Trail on a ridge of Mount Chocorua. The white granite of Carter Ledge is amazingly clean and solid with good natural protection where you need it. A singular feature of Carter Ledge is the stand of jack pine (Pinus banksiana), one of only three places in the White Mountains where this tree occurs. The last section of the trail before you reach the ledge ascends steeply on some loose gravel, but aside from that, the trail is not particularly difficult.
A very nice loop route (~10 miles in total) is to ascend via the Carter Ledge Trail, and then descend via the Hammond Trail. About halfway down the Hammond Trail, take a left onto the Weetamoo Trail which will take you back to the Piper Trail, and then follow the Piper Trail down to the parking lot off Route 16.
Trail distances & estimated hiking times from White Ledge Campground (740′):
- to Middle Sister Trail, lower junction (1100′): 1.0 mi., 350 ft., 40 min.
- to Nickerson Ledge Trail (1740′): 2.0 mi., 1000 ft., 1 hour 30 min.
- to Middle Sister Trail, upper junction (3240′): 3.7 mi., 2600 ft., 3 hr. 10 min.
- Mt Chocorua summit: 4.3 mi., 2700 ft., 3 hr., 30 min.
Getting There: You can approach Carter Ledge two different ways. Both ways involve similar hiking distances.
- From White Ledge Campground: Park in the White Ledge Campground off Route 16 in Albany. The trailhead is located on the left branch of the campground road; park in the day use parking area at the campground picnic area and do not block campsites.
Trail details: Follow the Carter Ledge Trail for two miles to the junction with the Nickerson Ledge Trail on the right. This way follows a gently rising trail the whole way. From the junction hike about 0.3 miles up the trail till an open slab can be seen just left of the trail. Hike up a few more steps till the trail turns sharply to the right. Move left up and across the top of the slabs in the woods just below another set of short slabs above. Traverse left (west) across the slope keeping at the same elevation for about 10-15 minutes and you will intersect the bottom of the slab. Do not drop too low on the hillside or you might hike right on by.
- From the Piper Trail: Start at the Piper Trail in Albany (see above)
Trail details: Hike 1.2 miles to the Nickerson Ledge Trail on the right. Follow the Nickerson Ledge Trail to its Junction with the Carter Ledge Trail in .8 miles.
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