Mt. Chocorua Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 04/28/2012 - 04/28/2012
Trip/Event Location: Conway, NH
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
Mt. Chocorua is one of the most beautiful mountains in New Hampshire ~ there is no better place to enjoy a nice day! At 3500', Chocorua isn't a big peak, but enjoys a bare rocky peak with spectacular...
Champney Falls Parking Lot is on Route 112 [Kancamagus Highway] in Passaconaway. The large parking area for the Champney Falls Trailhead is situated on the southern side of the Kancamagus Highway. From the west [Rte. 93 side], it is 24.3 miles east of exit 32 [Lincoln, NH] on Interstate 93. From the east [Rte. 16 side], it is 11.4 miles west of the junction on NH routes 16 and 112. There is a large sign at the kiosk that reads Champney Falls Trail, and the parking area is quite large. From Boston, I-93 to exit 32, at end of ramp take a left onto Rte. 112 [Kancamagus Highway] and drive east for a half hour. Total driving time from Boston, approximately two hours and 45 minutes.
Today was a perfect, crisp blue, New England sky with temperatures around 40 degrees and winds averaging 17 miles mph.
Our goal for today was to Summit Mt Chocorua via the Champney Falls Trail that departs from the Kancamagus Highway and visiting Middle Sister Peak along the way. The estimated round trip for the day is 7.6 miles.
We arrived at the trailhead and got underway around 11:15am. The parking area was probably half full which is what we were hoping for since this is usually very crowded in summer.
The trail grade was very easy and somewhat follows Champney Brook that provides a great ambient sound of falling water in the forest for about the first half-hour. We met several people on the trail as we ascended. The Champney Falls loop joins to the left at 1.5 miles in and rejoins about a half mile further along. We reached the base of glistening Champney Falls that were surrounded by icicles along its stratified ledge. We crossed the brook to take a closer look at Pitcher Falls that was simply beautiful today with its rock wall covered with ice. Then a succession of stone stairs led us past Champney Falls, with more than 200 feet of fragile cascades spilling through a random progression of boulders.
Once we rejoined the trail, it became more rocky and less sedate. The grade became steeper but still a very manageable and easy to walk. A couple miles in we started to get great views back across the valley and of Mt Washington that was coated with white snow. We then started ascending via switchbacks and started to encounter an icy trail. At the junction of the Champney Falls Cut-Off we found sunny spots on the trail to have lunch. We expected it to be breezy at the summit of Middle Sister so it was best to stay protected where it was warmer. Five of us found a nice location for lunch on a sunny spot with great views northward including the snowcapped Presidential Range. After lunch we crested to the summit of Middle Sister and what a sight! Views in all directions and an incredible unique view of Chocorua’s rocky summit cone. We could see people standing on its summit.
We admired the view and worked our way down the side to the col between Chocorua and the Sisters. The trail markings were difficult to see and the trail was a bit tricky. There were still icy spots adding to the degree of difficulty.
We rejoined the original trail and made way for the summit. It was a delightful jaunt following the yellow blazes [the trail needs new blazes] of the Piper Trail on a weaving course over and around craggy ledges enveloped in mountain views. There were not many people on the summit, which was perfect! Usually there are loads of people on this summit.
We took some pictures and hung around a while enjoying the panoramic vistas from this legendary summit before starting down.
The hike down went without issue and was wonderful. It was nice to have the valley views all the way and certainly going straight down the Champney Falls trail saved us some time instead of zipping back up and over the Middle Sister summit again.
We made the parking lot around 6:00pm. Today’s hike was an excellent day in the woods and a route I would highly recommend to anyone.
Although not officially a 4000-footer, Mt Chocorua does have a lot of elevation gain so standard precautions must be made for weather, water and supplies. It was an excellent day and a wonderful hike! Thanks to everyone who attended…smooches…
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