Three years ago, my daughter Emily and I started a tradition. Every summer, we would plan a mother-daughter overnight hike. This year’s plans incorporated a night at AMC Cardigan Lodge High Cabin AND a solar eclipse. Let’s just say I was excited.
I never knew High Cabin existed until a month or so before I began planning for our overnight. I had done a sunrise hike with my pup Sadie on Mt Cardigan (which was spectacular) and came across High Cabin while exploring near the summit. High Cabin was built in 1931 and was renovated in 2004. It is a self-service AMC cabin that is open year round. It offers 12 bunks, a propane stove, a composting toilet, a spring (not always reliable), a seasonal wood stove and a beautiful setting. It was the perfect spot for us to use as a base camp for our overnight!
It is a short two mile hike to High Cabin from Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria, NH. Our route included the Manning Trail, Holt Trail, Holt-Clark Cutoff, Clark Trail and Hurricane Gap Trail. It was a beautiful sunny day and we met quite a few groups hiking to the summit. Our solar eclipse glasses made the rounds as we were happy to share with any hiker we came across! There were several vantage points along the way that allowed us to catch a glimpse of the eclipse taking place. When we reached High Cabin, we unloaded most of our overnight gear and packed a few essentials to take with us for the final ascent. The last push to the summit via the Clark Trail included a short, steep, 15 minute climb up exposed bedrock leading to panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and nearby mountain ranges. The view is truly spectacular. At the summit, we were met with many other hikers who had the same idea as we did! Hikers donning solar eclipse glasses littered Mt Cardigan’s summit!
After enjoying the summit, solar eclipse and beautiful views, we made our way back down to AMC High Cabin. It is situated in the perfect location between the summits of Mt Cardigan and South Summit. Both peaks are spectacular locations to enjoy either a sunset or sunrise. Emily and I took full advantage and headed out with headlamps to enjoy the sunset on South Summit which is less than a 10 minute walk from High Cabin. The sunset didn’t disappoint.
We settled in for the night at High Cabin for an evening of card games and snacks. We even managed to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones (cell service was great!). I almost felt like we were “breaking the rules”, but the goal of the overnight was to spend time together and that mission was accomplished!
The next morning, we prepped a quick breakfast and heated up water on the propane stove to wash our dishes. After cleaning up the cabin, we packed up and headed down the trail to Cardigan Lodge and our vehicle. Another mother-daughter overnight hike in the books and another year of memories made.
Retrace Our Route
- Start at AMC Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria NH
- Follow Manning Trail for 0.3 miles until you reach Holt Trail
- Turn left and follow Holt Trail for 0.8 miles where you will reach Grand Junction
- Turn left and follow Holt-Clark Cutoff for 0.7 miles
- Turn right and follow Clark Trail for 0.4 miles; PJ Ledge is on your right-take time and enjoy this beautiful view at junction of Clark Trail and Hurricane Gap Trail
- Once you’ve enjoyed the views, turn left onto Hurricane Gap Trail-AMC High Cabin is located on this trail
- To continue your ascent to summit of Mount Cardigan, continue on Hurricane Gap Trail (for a total of 0.3 miles) to junction with South Ridge Trail
- Turn right and follow South Ridge Trail for 0.1 miles where you will come to junction with Clark Trail
- Turn left onto Clark Trail for 0.2 miles up exposed bedrock to summit of Mount Cardigan
- For descent, retrace your steps *Emily and I enjoyed the sunset on South Peak which is located 0.1 miles from junction of Hurricane Gap Trail and South ridge Trail
Have you ever enjoyed a hike up Mount Cardigan? Share your favorite experience and routes below in the comments!