Wildcat Ridge Trail
ElevationAscent: 2,942' 897 m
Descent: -1,494' -455 m
High: 4,403' 1,342 m
Low: 1,947' 594 m
GradeAvg Grade: 20% (11°)
Max Grade: 70% (35°)
Popular hikes nearby
The Presidential Traverse
18.9 mi 30.5 km • Point to Point • 7,702 ft Ascent 2347.63 m Ascent
Mount Kearsarge North Trail
5.8 mi 9.4 km • Out and Back • 2,485 ft Ascent 757.4 m Ascent
Mt. Chocorua - Champney Falls Route
7.2 mi 11.5 km • Out and Back • 2,162 ft Ascent 659.05 m Ascent
Black Cap Trail
2.5 mi 4.0 km • Out and Back • 590 ft Ascent 179.92 m Ascent
Mt. Chocorua - Piper Trail
8.0 mi 12.9 km • Out and Back • 2,614 ft Ascent 796.79 m Ascent
Franconia Ridge Loop
8.3 mi 13.4 km • Loop • 3,566 ft Ascent 1086.87 m Ascent
“A White Mountain summer favorite, the Wildcat Ridge Trail climbs steep terrain to reach fantastic forested viewpoints.”— Hunter R
After successfully completing the cliffside section, the trail assumes a less dangerous character as it continues climbing through thick trees with the occasional window-frame view of Pinkham Notch through dense evergreen undergrowth.
While the trail maintains this general character for the remaining duration, one obstacle in particular will give you pause. At one point in the climb, the trail leaves the woods to enter a completely exposed, bulging rock slab perched on the edge of the mountain. Hikers will need to safely climb up over this Class 4 obstacle to reach the continuation of the blazed trail at the top. While this doesn't pose as much of a problem in the summertime, a winter attempt of this trail is when this obstacle truly rears its head. In order to do it safely, be sure to employ your foot traction devices and, at the very least, the carbide tips of your trekking poles in your hands. It wouldn't be out of the question to bring a mountaineering axe just for this section.
After completing this daunting section of trail, you're more or less in the clear as you continue to climb through the forest to reach the ski patrol hut atop Wildcat Mountain Resort. From here, don't be fooled by the obvious route to the right that heads southeast off the notch in the mountain—this is a classic ski touring route that will send you back into town. Instead, head straight across the notch to regain the trail on the other side.
From this point, the trail has completed most of its elevation gain, save for a few punchy climbs peppered across the ridgeline, so take time to really enjoy yourself as you meander through another forested notch to gain Wildcat Ridge on your way to the summit of Wildcat Mountain.
From the summit, enjoy great views of the surrounding area before making your way down the short but fiercely steep descent to the junction with the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail.
Hiked this trail?
We need help with the following missing trail information:
Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed
Land Manager: USFS - White Mountain National Forest Office