Sneak - Attack on the Kitty - Cat : Wildcat 'D' Peak from Wildcat Valley

Date of Hike: 11/29/15

Hutmen's Trail: 3.3 miles  /  Carter Notch Road:  0.5 miles  /  Wildcat Valley X-C Ski Trail: 7.9 miles  /  Hall's Ledge Trail: 1.9 miles  /  NH16: 1.0 miles
Total Miles: 14.6 (3,515 feet elevation gained) Garmin Forerunner 910 XT

Trip Report:
-  I had no idea what I wanted to hike on Sunday and I didn't want to drive too far from home so I decided to head down Pinkham Notch and do a nice little hike into and out of Wildcat Valley.
- I started out leaving Route 16 up the Hutmen's Trail, it's ascends steeply for a half mile up Spruce Mountain before leveling off and joining the Dana Place ski trail.  From here on out I would be following mostly old logging/cross country ski trails for most of the day.
- At each ski trail junction there are signs, which are needed to stay on the correct course as it can be quite confusing at times to know exactly where you are as the White Mountain Guide map doesn't have the ski trails on it.
- I really enjoyed hiking along the logging roads / ski trails, there was even a really great view of Wildcat 'A' Peak and Carter Dome looking north from the valley.  Before dropping down to Carter Notch Road the trail, now coinciding with the Marsh Brook ski trail, passed by a tiny broken down cabin which may have been a left over from the old Prospect Farm / Jackson Camp days.
- Once reaching the road I walked about a half mile on Carter Notch Road to Hall's Ledge Trail, which is also the Wildcat Valley ski trail.  I ascended this old logging road / ski trail through the Jackson's Prospect Farm conservation area past old remnants of stone cellars.  After about a mile the Hall's Ledge Trail headed left and I kept going all the way to the summit of Wildcat 'D' Peak.
- Being a cross-country ski trail it ascends at probably the most gradual grade up to a four thousand footer.  The trail corridor is very well defined, except for a short section through a beautiful open Birch / hardwood glade.  This is definitely the time of year to hike it, after the hobblebush becomes dormant for the winter but before the snow and skiers arrive.  The only downside to the trail is it sure does take its sweet time gaining the ridge and popping out at the top of the ski lift (three miles and only 1,300ish feet elevation gained from the junction with the Hall's Ledge Trail).
- Wildcat Mountain was blowing snow and had the chairlift running as a few skiers were taking some runs.  With the lack of snow in the mountains so far this fall there isn't much going on for skiing yet except for one or two trails that they've blown snow over.
- From the summit of Wildcat D I retraced my steps back down to the junction with the Hall's Ledge Trail.  There is a really nice south looking overlook followed by a grown in outlook with a picnic table where there is a view of Mount Washington and its ravines.
- From here the logging road / X-C ski trails end and it was back to hiking on a regular foot path that was buried in leaves and would be hard to follow if not blazed in yellow paint and flagging.  The final stretch down to Route 16 was excessively steep with leaves six inches deep hiding rocks and roots making for a very tedious and tiring descent to the road.
- I ended my hike with an easy one mile road walk along NH 16, with it being 'off-season' in the Whites there were not too many cars on the road meaning there were less bad drivers out and about!

Route for the day, click here for more details

 The Huttmen's Trail leaves NH Route 16 and heads up an old logging road through pine woods

 After a mile of hiking the trail then coincides with the Dana Place X-C ski trail

There is a really nice view north to Carter Notch (Wildcat A and Carter Dome)

After about two and a half miles the Hutmen's Trail coincides with the Marsh Brook X-C ski trail

Along the Marsh Brook route the trail passes by an old fallen down shack

From the end of the Hutmen's Trail I road walk Carter Notch Road past an old house

After a half mile road walk I hop on the Hall's Ledge Trail which is also the Wildcat Valley X-C ski trail

The ski trail has very gradual and easy grades all the way to the summit of Wildcat 'D' Peak

 The Wildcat Valley Trail ascends through a wide open and beautiful Birch / hardwood glades

Looking down from the top of the glades

About a mile and a half from the summit there is an old mail box on a tree with a first aid kit inside.  Pretty cool!

Ice, waiting to be stepped on and broken through to the mud pit that lies below!

The Wildcat Valley Trail travels over a mossy foot path for a better part of a half a mile

Near the top the trail passes by an old snow gun

A few feet past the snow gun on a tree is an old telephone!

A trail sign just below the chairlift, notice how everything is in kilometers!

Wildcat 'D' Peak observation deck

Mount Washington and it's ravines (Tuckerman, Raymond Cataract, Huntington)

Wildcat Valley as seen from a tiny downlook near the chairlift

Wildcat ski area

Heading back down the trail, the double blazes means a sharp turn in the trail 

Heading back through the glades, the Birch trees kind of look half dead in spots, almost like a graveyard

Probably the best part of the hike, the trail is not defined through here so you just can hike wherever until the glades funnel back into the trail corridor

Heading down along a side hill and passing by an old Forest Service sign

Hall's Ledge southern outlook

Beautiful view towards North Conway

Hall's Ledge Trail western outlook

A tiny but nice view of Mount Washington

After the outlook the trail meanders through a logged area until steeply descending back to NH Route 16

I road walked a mile back to my Jeep

Hand drawn map of the trails and X-C ski trails, click here for the map of Jackson ski trails


  1. Chris . . . love reading the reports from each of your adventures. This one was particularly enjoyable to me since the Wildcat Valley XC Ski Trail is the one segment of your trek that I've never done. And so, it was great to see photos taken from a variety of spots along that corridor.

    As always, your maps and photos are beyond terrific. And I admire the way your narratives provide a concise summary of your trek.


    1. Thanks for your kind words, John! Save the Wildcat Valley Skit Trail for foliage season if you can, I think it would be really pretty in there with the Birch trees :)