This loop hike up and back to the top of New Hampshire’s Mt. Chocorua ( 3,500’) should be on every hiker’s to-do list. Chocorua is is the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range, and while not outstanding for its elevation, it is very rugged and has excellent views of the surrounding lakes, mountains, and forests.
Mount Chocorua is uniquely situated, and its bare summit can be seen from almost every direction and can be easily identified from many points throughout central New Hampshire and western Maine. Chocorua’s summit is a distinct rocky cone, and the mountain is reported to be one of the most photographed in the world.
As soon as we opened the doors to our car at the parking area, we were assaulted by clouds of mosquitoes. It was bad, and we started moving quickly. My hiking pal, John Clark and I started up the 3.9 mile Liberty Trail at 6:30 AM.
The Liberty Trail has interesting history behind it. The first rocky 3.3 miles is the remnant of a 1892 toll bridle path that led to a two story hotel that blew down in 1915. A stone stable was rebuilt in 1924 and this remaining Jim Liberty shelter is still a safe haven from the rains and snows, and offers bunks and first-come-first-bedspace. The water source is reported to be “mediocre”, with no fires permitted in the area. Here is a shot that conveys the view of where the remaining 0.6 miles to the summit goes up- another 500 vertical feet in elevation.
Our Dunkin Donuts coffee and breakfast snacks propelled us up the 2,899’ascent to the bare, exposed summit by 9:30 AM, where we found two hikers already on top.
The winds were chilly, air was saturated with condensation and mist, yet we had great views toward the east where we were able to identify Mt. Washington, Mt. Eisehauer, Crawford Notch, the Wildcats and other prominent giants.
After a bit of time taking some photos on top, we headed down the Brook Trail.
We would not have done the loop in this direction if there were ice or rain in the picture, as the descent was much steeper than the Liberty Trail, with sections of bare granite that required wise foot placement and balance.
Even two days later, Clarkie e-mailed me that his thighs felt as if they were beaten with a baseball bat, and that descending stairs was a challenge. It’s understandable, given the fact that we traversed almost 5,000 vertical feet, up and then down. It’s an experience any Stairmaster can’t touch- with added mud, mosquitoes, views, and wind. We vowed to take another hike in July, maybe up the Wildcats?