Table of Contents

These notes are written to help you compare the various routes that are commonly used to hike to the peaks. They are written on the assumption that you have a guidebook and a set of maps, so no directions are given to trailheads, and the trails are not described in any detail. I have omitted hikes that are substantially longer or more difficult than the standard ones, or that are simply less often used. The fact that a trail is not mentioned here does not imply that it is unsuitable.

Mountain Weather Forecast

The Recreation Report for New Hampshire and Western Maine gives a two day forecast for higher elevations (separate forecasts for elevations of 2,500 to 4,000 feet and for above 4,000 feet). There is also a point forecast for Mount Waumbek.

Online Map

If you do not have a printed map handy you may want to look at a TopoZone map of Mount Cabot or of Mount Waumbek. The main trails are marked, but not labelled.

Huts and Campsites

Cabot Cabin, maintained by the Jefferson Boy Scouts, is on the Mt. Cabot trail, about 0.4 miles from the true summit. It sleeps 8 in bunks, and has a wood stove and kitchen utensils. It is free, and operates on a first come, first served basis. Water can be a problem, there is a barrel which collects rain, but it can obviously be dry when there is no rain!
Almost all peakbaggers do Cabot in a day, but the cabin may be used to do a loop over Cabot, the Bulge and the Horn, the latter two are on the New England Hundred Highest list.

The WMNF maintains a primitive campsite near Unknown Pond. It is probably too close to the road to be of much use to peakbaggers, but can be be used for a loop over the Horn, the Bulge and Cabot. The trail-less Unknown Pond Peak, which is on the New Hampshire 100 Highest list, is close to the pond and the campsite.

Routes to Peaks

There are only two Fours north of Rt. 2, Mounts Waumbek and Cabot. Mt. Cabot is the most northerly 4000 footer in New Hampshire.

Mount Waumbek

One of the easiest Fours, it is reached by the Starr King trail (rt: 7.2 miles, 2,650 feet, 4:55) with easy grades and good footing. It passes over Starr King, which has good views of the Presidential range, there are no views from the summit of Waumbek itself.

Mount Cabot

The traditional trail to Cabot (the Mt. Cabot trail) is currently closed due to a conflict with a property owner, and it now appears that this closure will be permanent.

Currently the most common approach is by the Bunnell Notch trail. This branches off the York Pond trail which starts at the Berlin Fish Hatchery and joins the Mount Cabot trail where the latter crosses Bunnell Brook (rt: 9.6 miles, 2,400 feet, 6:00).

It is also possible to do a loop from the fish hatchery, going first to Unknown Pond by the Unknown Pond trail, then over the Horn and the Bulge (two peaks on the NE Hundred Highest list) to Mt. Cabot by the Kilkenny Ridge trail, returning by Bunnell Notch (lp: 10.9 miles, 2,800 feet, 6:50).

Note: There is a gate at the hatchery that is locked from 4 PM to 8 AM, check the White Mountain Guide for more details.