A couple weeks ago I had planned to head up to the Presidential Range to hike up the steep Huntington Ravine Trail. However, the weather had other plans. While approaching the Mt. Washington Valley on Rt. 16 I could see the clouds looming over the higher peaks. Huntington Ravine isn’t a great option in wet weather so in a last minute decision I decided to bail on my plans and hike up Mt. Chocorua instead. (Don’t worry… I still hiked Huntington. You can read about that here)
I’ve never been up this mountain before despite it being one of the most popular hikes in this area. Mt Chocorua stands at 3,480 feet tall. While it’s not the tallest mountain it’s protruding, extremely rocky summit makes it appear like a much larger mountain. Chocorua has been purported as one of the “most photographed mountains” in the world by the AMC Guide. It is a beautiful site when viewed from below… particularly from appropriately named Chocorua Lake which paints an amazing scene with it’s water in the foreground.
There are two popularways to hike Mt. Chocorua. One being the 8.4 Mile (2400 feet in elevation gain) Champney Falls trail from the Kancamagus Highway Rt 112. The other is the Pipe Trail from Rt. 16 which is also an out-and-back. Since I was already on Rt. 16 I opted to take the pipe trail.
While Chocorua is not a 4000 footer it is still is a challenging hike. The summit features near vertical slabs and lots of scrambling!
Unfortunately my dog Conan is recovering from an injury. So he wouldn’t be joining me for this hike… And he made me feel extremely guilty for leaving him!
The Piper Trail
The Piper Trailhead is located off of Rt. 16 in Albany NH. The short dirt road that leads out to the trail is rural and runs alongthe perimeter private property.
The piper trail starts out very wide and gradual only gaining about 1000 feet in elevation in the first two miles. The trail has a few muddy sections but is generally very pleasant. It winds through open forest and offers a nice variety of terrain.
Things start to steepen at the 2 mile marker. The trail goes into a series of switchbacks while gaining elevation fairly quickly. The trail alternates between stair style rocks and dirt while it flops back and forth between switchbacks.
At the 3 mile marker the first outlook came into view. A large open slab that you can climb up on top of.
It’s hard not to stop and take thousands of pictures on this mountain. It seems like a new view would pop up after every corner.
After the first outlook things get a little more vertical. There’s a series of slick rock slabs on a steep incline. The wet parts of this rock were very slippery.
After the initial exposed slabs the trail drops back into the trees for a short while. Nearing the exposed ridge is the junction of the Champney Falls trail, and West Side Trail which is known as the “bad weather loop”. This bypass can be used in the event of… well… bad weather.
After the short wooded walk, the trail popped out onto a huge rocky incline. This was the first portion of the ridge up to the summit.
1 Hour and 45 Minutes after starting this hike I made it to the summit! It was beautiful out today, occasional gusts of wind got the adrenaline pumping on an otherwise perfectday.
Chocorua is really incredible. It’s a small mountain the feels HUGE.
I hung around for a few minutes and had a snack. Then I was off again back down the Piper Trail… But first a few more pictures before I leave.
Once back in the tree’s I picked up the pace. I began a casual jog back down the Piper Trail.
That was until I ran into this…
Creepy right? Well… kind of interesting.
Anyways, after getting back into the shade and trees I put my head down and picked up the pace all the way back to the trailhead.
At the end of the hike I had covered 8.11 Miles and 2,980 feet in elevation gain according to my Garmin Fenix 3 watch. The entire hike took me 3 Hours and 41 Minutes moving at around 2.2 MPH. While I didn’t get to my original planned hike, this made for an awesome trip. I’ll be back again!