Black Mountain

Mountain:  Black Mtn. (2757')
Trails:  Black Mountain Ski Trail, East Pasture X-C Ski Trail, Black Mountain Cutoff
Region:  NH - Central East  
White Mountain National Forest, Carter-Baldface Region
Location:  Jackson, NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summit, views
Distance:  3.5 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1500 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 2:25   Typical: 2:30  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 4:00  
Season:  Summer
Hike Date:  08/28/2008 (Thursday)  
Weather:  Clear, dry, 60ís
Author:  James Horner

Route Summary   

This hike goes up to the White Mountain National Forest's Black Mountain Cabin and to a knob of Black Mountain; there are views of the nearby mountains from both destinations. The cabin is locked and must be reserved ahead of time with the Saco Ranger District office (603.447.5448).

  • Start on the Black Mountain Ski Trail and follow it for 1.3 miles to the cabin.
  • From the cabin, take the left-hand trail which is still Black Mountain Ski Trail. After 0.3 mile, you will arrive at the summit of the Black Mountain knob.
  • Or, instead of taking the left-hand branch from the cabin, bear right onto Black Mountain Cutoff (a cross-country ski trail). At the next trail junction, turn left onto East Pasture Trail (another cross-country ski trail), and that will turn again to the left, bringing you to the summit after a 0.6-mile walk from the cabin.
  • Descend to the cabin either by retracing your steps or by taking the opposite route that you hiked up; then from the cabin retrace your steps down Black Mountain Ski Trail for 1.3 miles which will return you to the parking area.

Place         Split
Black Mountain Ski Trail (1300') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Black Mountain Cabin (2450') 1.3 1.3
Black Mtn. summit (2757') 0.3 1.6 1:30 1:30
Black Mountain Cabin (2450') 0.6 2.2
Black Mountain Ski Trail (1300') 1.3 3.5 0:55 2:25


Trail map of hike route to Black Mountain (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

The first part of this report is a description of a hike up Black Mountain Ski Trail which leads to Black Mountain Cabin and as well as a knob of Black Mountain. The second section describes winter plans incorporating this trail as well as others into an invigorating daylong journey involving both cross-country skiing and downhill skiing.

The Summer Hike    |    Think Snow: Winter Skiing Plans

The Summer Hike   

On August 28, 2008 we hiked up Black Mountain Ski Trail to explore its potential for telemark skiing. The trail goes through an open field and turns right, away from two farmhouses into a 20-foot wide ski trail that gradually steepens. Some of the pitches are off-camber, a quality that would make for a fun descent.

A softwood forest of beech and birch yields to pine as the trail steepens to the cabin maintained by the WMNF. We enjoyed a fine view of the summit of Mount Washington and Huntington Ravine on a perfectly clear day. Continuing on the left behind the cabin is a very narrow trail leading to a spur with an even more impressive view of Mount Hight, Carter Notch and Carter Dome.

Returning to the trail, we continued left to make a loop back to the cabin. A massive blowdown completely blocked the trail, but it is possible to take the trail to the right of the cabin to the Bald Land cross-country ski trail.

View (photo by James Horner)

Think Snow: Winter Skiing Plans   

Although we thought the hiking on Black Mountain Ski Trail was easy/moderate we would rate it differently for skiing. The upper half would be most difficult, most of the lower half would be more difficult, and finally the end through the field would be easy.

Our winter plan is to skin up the Bald Land and East Pasture cross-country ski trails to the summit, ski the narrow snowshoe trail to Black Mountain Cabin, descend the wonderful Black Mountain Ski Trail, then ski the nearby Wildcat Valley Ski Trail through the woods to the Black Mountain connector trail . After descending an alpine ski trail at Black Mountain ski area, I can purchase a one-trip lift ticket that will deposit me near another cross-country connector. A final descent of the Bald Land Trail will lead us to the parking lot near the beautiful Windy Hill Bed and Breakfast.

Near Black Mountain Cabin and East Pasture Trail during the winter (photo by James Horner) Near Black Mountain Cabin and East Pasture Trail during the winter (photo by James Horner)



NH - Central East

  Driving Directions   

The Black Mountain Ski Trailhead is located in Jackson, New Hampshire, off of Carter Notch Road.

From Rt. 16:
  • Take Rt. 16 into Jackson.
  • Once inside the Jackson town limits, take the northern most turn for Rt. 16A. Traveling north, this will be the second turn; going south, it will be the first.
  • Follow Rt. 16A for only about 0.4 mile and then at Wentworth Hall turn left onto Carter Notch Road which is also Rt. 16B; there is another option for getting onto Rt. 16B a bit farther down the road but things will be simpler if you take this first turn onto the combined Carter Notch Road/Rt. 16B.
  • Follow Carter Notch Road for 3.7 miles.
  • Turn right onto Melloon Road.
  • Follow Melloon Road for 0.3 mile, bearing left uphill, which will bring you to the good-sized trailhead parking area at the end of the road.

Other Notes   

Although not all of Carter Notch Road is open during the winter, this section from Jackson to the Black Mountain Ski Trail is open year round.

WMNF Recreational Pass

A parking permit is required to park at White Mountain National Forest trailheads and parking areas. You can purchase a WMNF permit from the forest service and other vendors and can also pay-by-the-day using self-service kiosks located in many parking areas.

For more information on parking passes please refer to the White Mountain National Forest website.

  • $5 per day
  • $30 for a year-long pass
  • $40 for a year for a household


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