A long 10.5-mile day hike with views of the Imp Face profile, Mt Washington and the Presidential Range can be constructed via the Imp Trail Loop, North Carter Trail and the Carter-Moriah Trail. This route will gain the summits of both Middle Carter 4,610 and North Carter 4,530. Middle Carter is ranked 15th of the New Hampshire 4,000 footers and while North Carter is not topographically eligible for the list, it is none the less impressive, with fine views from both the ridgeline and summit. It is a longer hike and strenuous but a good challenge for any one and their dog. This is another of the ways to breakup the Carter-Moriah Mountain Range into smaller more manageable day hikes.
There are two branches of the Imp Trail, both are located on NH 16 and are about .3 miles from one another. The northern branch is about 2.6 miles from the Washington Auto Road if traveling north and about 5.5 miles south of Gorham, NH. There are small turnouts on NH 16 that will accommodate a few cars at each location so park curiously and keep your dog leashed, as NH 16 is a fast paced and well traveled highway. The north branch of the Imp Trail begins as a gradual incline and heads east up the side of the Imp Brook Valley. Water is plentiful here at most times of year thanks to the Imp Brook, which has to be crossed at .8 miles. The trail levels off as it follows a ridge, but soon becomes quite steep as it goes up the north side of the ridge, and continues up to 2.2 miles where the viewpoint of the Imp is located. This rocky outcropping on North Carter was named for its perceived resemblance to the half human, half wood elf creature. From here the trail descends, a bit difficultly to the junction with North Carter Trail at 3.1 miles.
North Carter trail follows old logging roads steeply up to the junction with the Carter-Moriah (A.T.) trail at 1.2 miles. From the junction it is .3 miles north or left on the trail to the summit of North Carter 4,530 feet. Views to the east of the Baldface Mountains are best from North Carter summit. From here turn south and repeat the section of the Carter-Moriah trail back to the junction with the Imp trail and then another .6 miles south will bring you to the summit of Middle Carter 4,610. Although this summit is higher and recognized as one of the 4,000 footers it is wooded and offers no summit views. There are some views from various lookouts on the Carter-Moriah trail leading up to the summit but it is a summit without glorious views.
If you want to continue south on the Carter-Moriah Trail to South Carter (4,430) it is another relatively easy ridgeline hike of 1.3 miles. South Carter also has a wooded summit and offers no views. We chose to return the way we came back north .6 miles to the North Carter trail junction and descending the southern branch of the Imp trail to NH 16. Descending the southern branch of the Imp trail is much more gradual than the northern branch. The southern Imp branch crosses several streams on the way back to NH 16, none of these are particularly large or difficult to cross and do provide watering areas for dogs or humans. This section is also an old logging road and is well graded and easy to descend. It ends at NH 16, about .3 miles south of the northern branch of the trail. Use caution walking on NH 16 back to the trailhead and be sure to leash dogs as traffic can be heavy and the speed limit is high.