Trip Report: Mount Cabot

My family was away for the week which made it easier for me to get away to do some hiking. +Josh Ain talked to me into doing Cabot with him, which is one of the few that we both need for the NH 4000 footers list. Cabot is the furthest peak from Boston which makes it a bit more annoying to get to, taking close to 4 hours of travel time from Boston. So we drove up the night before to avoid the double commute and stayed in a motel in Gorham (We couldn’t find any motels in Berlin).

Trip stats

Distance: 11.16 miles
Elevation Gain: 3094 ft
Total time: 5.5 hours
Weight: 10 pounds
Peaks:  The HornThe BulgeMount Cabot, Southeast Knob

Josh wandering through the woods

We started at the hatchery a bit before 8.  The guide book had said the place opened the gates at 8, but Josh had read online that they frequently opened earlier than that.  We missed the trailhead parking the first time through so for other’s doing this popular Cabot loop, it’s the first hiking sign on the right you come to on the other side of the hatchery.  We’re doing the bottom-most loop (via Unknown Pond Trail) listed on the great hiking site here.

A bad picture of a water crossing

The trail started off as most trails do in the White mountains, a rolling ferny, forested walk.  There were several water crossings, including a confusing one where the trail crossed over for a hundred yards and then quickly back. It had rained a lot the evening before, which meant the water was high and pretty fast moving.

One good thing if you look at the elevation profile on this loop hike is that it’s a pretty gradual up and down.  You gain your elevation pretty evenly across the 5 mile climb and there aren’t super challenging climbs.  This made for a pleasant experience all day.

Eventually we reached Unknown Pond, which had a beautiful view of one of the peaks we were about to cross (I forget which one, the Horn was closest so probably that).  There is a tentsite here as well, which if it wasn’t on the other side of the White Mountains from me would be a nice place to return to someday.

A view of Unknown Pond from the tentsite side
View of Cabot from the Horn

From there, we started our ascent of the Horn.  The Horn is the only one of the peaks we climbed that had a really decent view.  It’s off a bit on a spur, but well worth it for the short trip.  From the top you can get a great view of the Bulge and Cabot itself and somewhat decent views of the higher mountains to the South.

Josh struggling to get his coat on

The top was particularly windy so I took my first lunch right below in a protected area while Josh braved the elements.

From there, we hiked onward toward the Bulge.  On the way we came across the first other hikers we had seen coming the opposite direction.  There was one solo day-hiker and then another hike named John (?) who was hiking the Cohos Trail.  I had never heard of this trail and it’s apparently pretty new.  If you like long-distance trails, go look it up.  He had stayed the night before at the cabin on the top of Cabot, which we were headed toward now.  He said it was pretty intense being there in the middle of the thunderstorm.

Eventually after some more gradual climbing, we reached the summit of Cabot.  The actual summit wasn’t very impressive.  You could get some views through the trees in some other places, but not nearly as exposed as the Horn.
Josh standing on the actual summit of
Cabot that doesn’t have a great view
Sharing some Cabot cheddar on Cabot
Near the peak, we stopped to peek (snort) at the Cabot Cabin.  It was pretty nicely setup inside, even with mats nailed down to the bunks.  And if drinking mysterious yellow colored liquids is your thing, there was even a stocked bar.
The inside of the Cabot Cabin
Stocked bar

Outside of the cabin
The descent off Cabot was also pleasant and moderate, your standard rocky downhill White Mountain tromp.  We stopped at the old Mt. Cabot Trail to pay respects to the old approach.

The sign for the old now-unmaintained Mount Cabot Trail

The bottom flattened off almost completely and became grassy so we booked the last mile or so in an attempt to get a sub-20 mile in there.  All in all, it was a good day.  I don’t know if I’d do this hike if it wasn’t a 4,000 footer but there were a couple of things worth seeing on it if you were a bit closer.  And I discovered the Cohos Trail which is yet another longish trail that I can attempt to do in a super-fast time in the future.

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