Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mt. Chocorua via Champney Falls Trail, August 29, 2015

Mt. Chocorua (3,490') via Champney Falls and Piper trails, 8/29/15

Mileage: 7.8 miles RT

Elevation gain: 2,370'

Trailhead: The trail begins at the Champney Falls parking lot on the Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) 10 miles west of its junction with Route 16 (junction in Conway, NH). If coming from I-93, take exit 32 to Route 112 East (Kancamagus Highway) for 24.6 miles. There is a parking fee of $3.

Hiked with Rich today.  The weekend's forecast called for perfect weather so we wanted to get out and up hoping for nice views (we were not disappointed).

This is my fourth time up Chocorua - second time by way of Champney Falls; the first time was over ten years ago. (Also see trip reports for this mountain via Piper trail and also via Nickerson Ledge trail.)

If you are looking for a comfortably mellow trail up Mt. Chocorua, this is for you!  Keep in mind though that all who reach the summit enjoy a fair amount of steep rock and slab work right at the top.  The "mellow" part refers to the Champney Falls portion of this hike.  

Today, USFS rangers were at the parking area, making sure fees were paid and hikers knew about the ten essentials.  
The falls are just over a mile up.
I don't recall visiting the falls the last time I was here (so long ago) but we decided to this time. That trail deviates left from the main trail, dips down and then sharply up, allowing you to be at the bottom, and then the top of both Champney and Pitcher falls.

It's a loop trail that ends at the upper portion of Champney Falls trail (no back tracking!).

Trail loops back onto the main trail.

Water is low today.  

Trail goes to the right up a rocky set of steps.

Start of the slabs as you head back to Champney Falls trail.
Back on the Champney Falls trail the path gets narrower, rockier and steeper but never really steep.  Onward and upward the trail skirts the side of the mountain and we can see bits of views.

Still pretty wide and easy.

A tree is fallen on the CF trail at this junction.
The Champney Falls trail meets up with the Piper trail at a popular junction.  This is the final approach to the summit of Chocorua.

At the junction. Things get different from here!
A bit more wooded trail later we landed on the lower portion of the rocky summit cone. Yellow blazes lead the way but many just scramble up here and there. 

The start of the rocks.
Spoiler alert - that tall bump of rock is not the summit. Once you get past it you will see a second, more grand bump. That's where you want to be.

That second bump - the summit.

Follow the blazes.

By the time you get to that last scramble up to the top (a steepish slope plenty sticky in dry conditions), you'll be quite comfortable with walking on slabs. The actual summit is small and crowded.

Actual summit is just left of this photo.

Most hang out on the slabs just below it.

Incredible views.
After lunch on the rocks, enjoying the view, we headed back down to the car and to 7th Settlement for a beer (in Dover, 90 minutes from the trailhead but we wanted to try it). 
Heading down and enjoying the scenery.