Mount Cardigan is a prominent bare-rock summit in the towns of Orange and Alexandria in western New Hampshire. While its peak is only above sea level, it has extensive areas of bare granite ledges and alpine scrub, giving it the feel to hikers of a much higher mountain. Most of the summit area was denuded by devastating forest fires in 1855.
The Civilian Conservation Corps helped to develop the alpine ski trail network still in use today on the east side of the mountain.
The mountain is set in the 5655acre Cardigan Mountain State Park.
The Cardigan Lodge, operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club since 1934, is located to the east at the foot of the mountain, and is often used as a base for day hikes in and around the mountain. Many schools from around New England have overnight field trips to the mountain during the autumn and spring months.
The bedrock of Mount Cardigan is the upper member of the Lower Devonian Littleton Formation (a light grey meta-turbidite) on its west flank (seen on lower parts of the West Ridge Trail). On the summit and to the east on the Clark Trail the bedrock is the Kinsman Granodiorite of the Early Devonian Cardigan Pluton (a foliated granitic body with large megacrysts of potassium feldspar). The Cardigan pluton has been dated by the Rb/Sr method at 411 +/- 19 MA. The metamorphic rocks of the Littleton Formation that make up the west flank are at middle amphibolite metamorphic grade. The Littleton Formation rocks were once deep water sediments of the Bronson Hill Island Arc and were deformed and metamorphosed during the Acadian orogeny.
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Mount Cardigan State Park Reviews
We started at the AMC Cardigan Lodge, and followed the Manning Trail to the top of Firescrew. You will get many get stunning views at many points along the way. From Firescrew, we followed Mowgli's... more »
Went out for a winter hike. It was stunning. The gate is closed for the winter (I’m assuming) so you have to trek in. There’s only a handful of parking spaces by the gated entrance...we were lucky.... more »
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