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Mt Cabot Trip Report

Pam and Deb at the Summit of Mount Cabot
Pam and Deb at the Summit of Mount Cabot

I went for a long AMC hike over the weekend up to Mount Cabot (4,170 ft), which is the northernmost peak on the White Mountain 4,000 footer list. Situated in the Kilkenny Range, Cabot is about a 4 hour drive north from Boston and an hour north from Pinkham Notch and Mt Washington.

Route to Mt Cabot from the Berlin Fish Hatchery
Route to Mt Cabot from the Berlin Fish Hatchery

This was my second time climbing the peak, but the first time in wintry conditions. My previous visit had been a 32 mile solo backpacking trip in July 2010, when I’d hiked in from the south over Mt Waumbek and the Weeks, starting from the trail head below Mt Starr King, just off Rt 2. I’d spent a memorable night in the Cabot Cabin, battered by a severe summer storm.

I was accompanied on this hike by about a dozen other hikers from the AMC Boston and Worcester Chapters. The pace was good for me going up and coming down, even though this was my second major hike of the weekend. Besides being fun, I’m spending as many days hiking with heavier winter loads in winter conditions as I can, to get fit for the official winter climbing season which starts on December 22nd.

Climbing Switchbacks to the Summit Ridge
Climbing Switchbacks to the Summit Ridge

While this latest hike was a much shorter 9.4 mile round trip hike with 2,500 feet of elevation gain, it still took us about 7 hours round trip, hiking though about 6 inches of unconsolidated snow, ice, and slush. We parked our cars at York Pond Rd, just past the Berlin Fish Hatchery and hiked up the Bunnell Notch Trail, climbing gradually to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail Junction. From here, we turned north and started to climb the Cabot summit following a series of steep switchbacks up to the summit ridge.

The wind picked up noticeably on the ascent and the temperature dropped, although we were fairly well protected by snow loaded trees. As we were climbing, Pam (see top photo) and I had a long conversation about the book Tom and Atticus and other trail memoirs. I view it as a good sign that I was able to hold a conversation while we were climbing: all of this training must be paying off!

Cabot Cabin
Cabot Cabin

We arrived at the cabin at about 1:30 (after a 10 am start), dropped off our gear and hoofed it to the true summit about 100 yards farther along the trail. After meditating for about 45 seconds at the frigid summit, we about faced it and returned to the cabin to eat and refortify for the walk out. We’d been shooting for a turnaround time of 2:00 pm in order to get back to our cars before complete darkness (4:12 pm sunset.)

Neal's Pizza Delivery
Neal's Pizza Delivery

The Cabot Cabin warmed up nicely with a dozen people inside, as we got down to the business of chowing down on cookies, chips, brownies and many other winter delicacies. Here’s Neal gorging out on his leftover pizza and trying to call for another takeout delivery to the hut (the full moon turns him into a party animal).

Two more members of our party who were delayed at the trail head waiting for a car tow, arrived at the cabin just as were packing up to leave. We said our hellos and then took off, sliding and stumbling down the summit, easily chopping an hour off of our ascent time. Once down, we changed into dry and warm clothes, and waited for our other two friends to walk out. The sun had set by this point and we wanted to make sure they got our safely and met us at the Moat in North Conway for dinner and fresh beer!

This was a nice trip and I hope to hike with many of the same people later in the winter.


  1. Great trip report…. :) So what is your training regimen?

  2. Hike with a backpack a few times a week for 5-7 miles each hike. Ride a stationary bike 5 days a week for an hour. Swim a few miles a week. Try to get to the White Mountains for a day or two of peakbagging at least every other week end. The hard part about winter is getting used to hiking with heavy boots and/or snowshoes so you need to do that whenever it snows. You also need to be able to mentally push yourself beyond your physical limits. That's really the hardest part – getting past the fear and the lack of confidence. That's one of the reasons I go on so many training hikes – to remind myself that I can do hard hikes when I need to.

  3. I haven't been reading your blog long enough to see many trip reports, but have been waiting for them. This was fun, and I look forward to hopefully reading some over-night winter hiking TRs in the future!

  4. Ah Ben – if you click on the Trip Report category in the right hand column of the blog page, you'll see over 100 trip reports listed. Some are for multi-week trips. I like writing them because they help me remember my walks, so it's good to hear that other people enjoy them as well.

    Which reminds me: one of the leaders on this Cabot hike recognized me from a talk I gave at REI about hiking the 100 mile wilderness, and now he dreams of hiking it himself. That was very gratifying for me to learn.

  5. Great report. Laura and I did the same exact route on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; before there was fresh snow. How about that drive? And Berlin, the industrial Yin to North Conway's inviting Yang. It was a muddy long walk in but a memorable hike non-the-less. I would have welcomed more snow.

    I'm guessing you did this on Saturday (judging by the post-Moat libations) however, the sky looks clear in your pictures which was not the case on Ammonoosuc Ravine Saturday.We did Wildcat Ridge on Sunday. What a beautiful day, love that trail. Although we couldn't find a summit marker on Wild Cat 'A'; guess we'll have to climb it again. 31 down 17 to go. See you on the trails.


  6. If it's not too much to ask, would you be able to point me to, say, your three favorite trips/TRs? =)

  7. Chris – I wondered whether you and Laura were hiking this winter. Glad to hear it. I can't remember ever seeing a sign on Wildcat A – the only times I've been on it have been traverses of some or all of the range, so it was easy to conclude that I'd been to the summit. We had decent weather most of Saturday in the north country, but Friday was very gloomy in Crawford Notch when I climbed Mt Field solo. Hard to know what it's going to do up there – as you know.

  8. The cabot mountain cabin sounds interesting, especially in winter. I've done Mt. Weeks and Black Crescent mountain, but haven't been on Cabot.

  9. That cabin is great, and it's free to use if you want to spend the night. It has bunk beds (4) in the back and the walls are insulated. There's a front room with a table/benches and a back room, so you could get even more people in if they sleep on the floor. Plus there's even an outhouse, outside.

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