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Ski
Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks
Peaks Firescrew, Grotto Cave, Mt. Cardigan, Mt. Cardigan (South Peak), NH
Trails
Trails: Manning Trail, Mowglis Trail, Grotto Cave spur, Clark Trail, Ranger-Cabin Trail, South Ridge Trail, Hurricane Gap Trail, Unnamed trail, Alexandria Ski Trail, Holt Trail, Bailey Brook Ski Trail, Nature Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Monday, November 30, 2015
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Plenty of parking at AMC Cardigan Lodge. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Ice - Black, Ice - Blue, Leaves - Significant/Slippery 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: No problems. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: All trails in great shape, thank you Cardigan Highlanders. The side trail to Grotto Cave is kind of a mess, but it's an unofficial path. It is depicted on the latest AMC southern NH map and is mentioned in the southern NH guide but can be tricky to find. Icy spots along all trails, but nothing requiring traction yet. The ledges on the Cardigan summit are ice-free. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Sure. 
Bugs
Bugs: Nope. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Nothing. 
 
Comments
Comments: A solo loop over Cardigan to make up for a group hike there that I was unable to attend.

Up Manning to Firescrew. Ice is forming in the usual spots on the steep pitch up to the ledges, can be stepped around for now. Awesome walk across the ridge as always, I like this approach as Cardigan is in view ahead.

I dropped off the ridge on the unofficial side trail to Grotto Cave. I had found the start of this trail a few years back, but ran out of time to descend all the way. The route used to be marked with cairns on the ledges but they have been removed. Below the ledges are a few faint old blazes and one painted arrow. The drop down to the cave is a bit gnarly, with one steep icy slab that I whacked around. Getting to the final large overhanging cave requires squeezing through a small cave just before. Glad I finally made it down here, pretty cool to see.

After visiting the cave I climbed back up to the ridge and to the summit, where a group was just leaving. Then I had the summit to myself, a rarity on this peak!

I descended of the summit via the CT and headed over to HGT where I discovered an abandoned trail, the junction of which was marked with a small cairn, which led 0.2 mi. to the summit of South Peak. This junction is shortly before High Cabin if descending. The route was marked with cairns and faded old blazes on the ledges. Curious about this one, will have to research it.

The rest of the descent was uneventful. I hiked a couple of the ski trails for something new and a change of scenery. Also did a short bushwhack down to the large cascade on Bailey Brook.

A great day out in one of my favorite areas!  
Name
Name: KenM 
E-Mail
E-Mail: kmacgray@gmail.com 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2015-12-01 
Link
Link: http:// 
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