Cole Hangs Tough on the Holt Trail: Mount Cardigan

Date of Hike: 5/3/14

Holt Trail / Mowglis Trail / Manning Trail: 5.5 Miles (1,950 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- For years I've been hearing about the Holt Trail on Mount Cardigan and how it has one of the most difficult sections of steep scrambling around.  I've also been told from a few hikers that bringing a dog on the trail is a big no-no.  When I hear this I've always thought of my parents dog, Teddy the super-hiking Golden Retriever, weighing in at 75 lbs, who went up Huntington Ravine four times during the late 90's and early 00's.  Nowadays, I think of Cole, the Fancy Pants Panda Bear Shiba Inu and how just about a year ago he hiked up Huntington Ravine on his second hike, Mount Major being his first...the day before.  Since then, Cole has turned into a machine, able to hike on and off trail without any issues.
-  On Saturday, we (Alton, Cole, and I) headed to Mount Cardigan to enjoy mostly snow and ice free trails and beautiful views from the summit and the ridge over to the Firescrew as we made a nice loop hike.
- The Holt Trail travels through the woods next to Bailey Brook as it heads up the eastern side of the Mountain.  The trail has rough footing in places and becomes steeper as it heads into the open where the hiking turns from rocks, roots, and mud to slab.
- The lower slab section made for terrific hiking and was not too steep.  Cole ran up and down with no issues at all as we turned around every couple of minutes to take in the great views down into the town of Alexandria and Newfound Lake.
- There were still remnants of snow here and there that we had to walk over and skirt around but with the warm temperatures it should all be gone in a week.  The majority of the slab was dry making the hiking up with our trail runners pretty simple.  We both were wearing our LaSportiva trail runners which grip the rock slab extremely well.
- The real fun part of the Holt Trail is the last section below the summit where it is at its steepest.  There are two pieces of slab, side by side, one over-hangs the other creating a 'crack-wedge' if you will.  It's sort of like a mini version of the first rock scramble on the Huntington Ravine Trail.  I headed up through this section first with Cole behind me, he had no issues other than needed a butt boost up from Alton who was behind him.  After the boost up Cole took the lead and ran up the rest of it as Alton and I scrambled up to the summit.  The Holt Trail was a lot of fun, especially that last steep section, I didn't find it difficult as there are many handholds and the slab is grippy.  If you like Huntington Ravine, North Slide Tripyramid, Flume Slide, etc. you will enjoy this.  If your dog is experienced and sufficient on scrambles they should be able to handle this, too, with caution of course.
- From the summit we hooked onto the Appalachian Trail and over to the Firescrew then dropped down the Manning Trail.  For very little effort it has some of the most rewarding views and was a real pleasant hike.  We really enjoyed all the open out of the woods hiking that Mount Cardigan provides.  for new hikers wanted to test themselves on something small before tackling a bigger peak this is a perfect mountain to gain experience on!
- Once back in the woods we navigated around some snow and ice and then booked it down the mountain.  The trail crews were out and about getting the Manning Trail in shape for the upcoming hiker traffic during the snow free months.
- Once we made it down to the Cardigan Lodge, Cole dipped his paws in the pond and fished out a big stick that he tried to take back to the car with him.  He almost made it but, dropped the stick, got distracted by a leaf blowing in the wind and forgot about his prize catch within seconds!
- We finished really early so we then headed over to Newfound Lake and hiked up Little and Big Sugarloaf where we relaxed and enjoyed the warm weather and nice views from above the lake.
 Our route for the hike, click here for more details
 Cole puts on his hiking face
 Running up and down the lower section of the Holt Trail
 Short steep scramble in the woods
 Some snow and ice remains where the sun doesn't shine
 First scramble up the open ledges
 Cole runs up it and waits for us!
 Hiking over the middle section of the rock slab
 Town of Alexandria
 Alton scrambles up some slab
 Navigating around some snow and ice
 This was the hardest section, but there was plenty to hold onto
 Alton makes her way up the last scramble (off trail)
 Cole goes for  dip on the summit of Mount Cardigan
 Heading over to the Firescrew
 Looking back up to Mount Cardigan's summit
 The summit outlook tower
 A.T. / Manning Trail junction
 Heading down the Manning Trail
 Zoon in of the upper section of the Holt Trail, our route in yellow
 Mount Cardigan summit cone
 The Manning Trail
 Cole finds an alpine bog!
 down climbing the ice and snow still left in the woods
 Cole goes fishing!
 Cole dragging his catch down the street
 Cole having a little difficulty dragging his stick home
 Now he gets the hang of it!
 Hiking across the street from Newfound Lake
 Big Sugarloaf Summit
View of Newfound Lake from the Sugarloafs
As I mentioned in the report...Teddy!
Teddy on South Twin!


  1. Cole kicks butt!

  2. We absolutely loved hiking Mount Cardigan too!!!