Mt Chocorua Via The Piper Trail

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.

Chocorua Lake

Chocorua Lake with Mt. Chocorua to the right.

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!

Leaving Conan behind is never easy!

Leaving Conan behind is never easy!

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 road approaching the Piper Trailhead

The road approaching the Piper Trailhead

Piper Trailhead

Piper Trailhead

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.

Long gradual section of the Piper trail

Long gradual section of the Piper trail

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.

Approaching the first outlook

Approaching the first outlook

At the 3 mile marker the first outlook came into view. A large open slab that you can climb up on top of.

The view from the first outlook.

The view from the first outlook.

The main attraction behind me.

Chocorua’s bald summit and my bald head.

Amazing view and I'm not even near the top yet.

Amazing view and I’m not even near the top yet. Looking south towards the lakes.

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.

The Scrambles

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.

The first steep scramble.

The first steep scramble.

Chocorua Slabs

Wet Slabs

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.

The bad weather loop junction

The bad weather loop junction

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.

The first section of exposed slabs leading to the summit ridge.

The first section of exposed slabs leading to the summit ridge.

Amazing views once again!

Amazing views once again! Looking back the “Three Sisters” which sit adjacent to Chocorua.

Going up!

Going up!

Looking over at the main summit.

Looking over at the main summit.

Approaching the summit.

Approaching the summit.

Oh... Hi

Oh… Hi

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.

Mt. Chocorua's Summit!

Mt. Chocorua’s Summit!

Chocorua is really incredible. It’s a small mountain the feels HUGE.

Summit Selfie

Summit Selfie

Looking towards the lakes.

Looking towards the lakes.

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.

Looking North West

Looking North West

Chocorua Clouds

Some less than ideal weather headed my way. Luckily it made for a dramatic picture.

Chocorua's Summit 4 20160702_100419

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…

Spider with about 1000 babies!

Spider with about 1000 babies!

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.

Summary

The GPS Track from todays hike

The GPS Track from todays hike

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!

Hiker, climber, father, and husband. The mountains have become a tremendous source of inspiration, physical challenge, fitness, motivation, and enrichment for me. I love the gear, and technical aspects of climbing. I also enjoy sharing this other type of lifestyle with people who haven't experienced it!

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