Taking in 360 degree stunning views of the White Mountains from the bare summit of Mount Chocorua (May 2017)
If you're looking for a hike with beautiful waterfalls and a incredible view from the summit, Mount Chocorua is a smart choice. Standing at 3,490 feet, it's located in the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range. According to various articles, it's one of the most popular hikes in New Hampshire. However, that wasn't the case when Scott and I hiked the mountain on a cloudy Sunday in May. We barely saw anyone else.
We arrived at the trailhead parking lot a little before 2:30pm, which is a lot later than the time I usually like to start hiking. But, that's what happens when you go on a spontaneous hike, right?
The beginning of the trail requires you to cross a small stream and from there, it's a moderate climb. At the 1.4 mile mark, there is a cutoff trail that leads to Champney Falls and Pitcher Falls, which were the best part of this hike beside the summit itself. In fact, it's one of the reasons why this hike is very popular. Thanks to the recent rainfall, the cascades were flowing strong. We hung around this area for 15 minutes or so, taking photos.
Instead of having to retrace your steps back, the cutoff trail continues up rock stairs and returns to to the Champney Falls Trail. We continued on this trail until coming to the Piper Trail, where we took directly to the the summit of Mount Chocorua. On our way up, we passed through an area that had a significant amount of snow on the ground mainly in the wooden area of the trail. It was pretty deep too. Scott fell through a couple of times and the snow was up to his thigh. Thanks to experience of hiking the snow filled Smarts Mountain a couple weeks before, I sort of figured out how to walk through snow with limited problems.
We came out of the wooden area around 4:40pm and were now at the base of the summit. Scott told me about it being a bare summit, but I didn't realize the extent of it. We were above tree line but the summit was still a ways to go. Unlike other hikes I've been on, getting to the top of Mount Chocorua required a great deal of climbing up rock slabs that were slippery. The clouds above us got darken as we made our way ups, climbing on all fours at certain points.
A half hour later, we finally reached the top. The views were from the summit were amazing. You could see 360 degrees. It offered views of the Sandwich Wilderness and mountains Mount Pagus, Mount, Passaconaway, Mount Whiteface, and the Sisters.
After 20 minutes of being on the summit, the clouds got darker and it started to hail a little so we started to head back down. Thankfully, the weather eased up during out descend. We went back down the mountain using the same trails that we took up exception we didn't veer off to the Champney Falls Trails. We reached the parking lot a little before 7:30pm, beating the sunset, and competing the hike in a little less than five hours.