Mount Chocorua Hiking Trails Tamworth NH
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>> Mt. Chocorua
I’ve just woken up
on a particularly miserable rainy July day at
five o’clock in the morning, hastily packed a
lunch and prepared for the drive to Mount
I pick up a
friend and we watch the sun ascend the sky as we
pull onto NH Route 16, the main drag up through
the middle of the state. The
windshield wipers are getting a workout as I’m
pouring a Dunkin Donuts coffee down my throat
and we’re re-checking directions to the
hiker is an experienced New Hampshire native and
is navigating us to Tamworth, the closest town
to Mount Chocorua, and then onto the trail.
At Mt. Chocorua, we’re getting out
of the car around nine at a tiny gravel parking
lot situated down a long dirt road leading out
of Tamworth. This is an official trailhead
parking lot, marked by a box to deposit cash, an
“honor system” payment for a parking pass. The
trailhead parking lot for this particular trail
remains unmarked from the main road, but any
friendly local can tell you how to find it.
We’re on the
southwest side of the mountain, about to use the
popular Liberty Trail to summit Mt. Chocorua.
pack onto my shoulders I notice that the sky has
not cleared at all and that I’m about to attempt
a rainy hike, an unusual occurrence for me.
Mt. Chocorua stands
only 3,490 feet tall, but has become popular
with New Hampshire hikers because of its rugged
trails, majestic views, and Native American
legends of old.
Hampshire folklore has made Mt Chocorua,
supposedly named for a real Native American,
into the site of a murderous misunderstanding
between the white settlers and the natives.
legendary status has been achieved through those
who hike this rough mountain to summit its
exposed top and tell stories of its technical
hiking and rocky trails.
experience the mountain for ourselves, we begin
our hike at the Liberty Trail trailhead, walking
down a relatively flat path for several hundred
Mt. Chocorua's flat forested
path slowly gives way to a rocky, slightly
graded trail, known as the “Cowpath”. The trail
is drenched and my feet quickly become soaked as
we round out mile one and have still gained
Now it had
started to seriously rain and I’ve gotten even
wetter as the trail crisscrosses a mountain
stream several times. Despite my soaking skin I
have no complaints; the forest around me is
beautiful and the trail cuts into the mountain
in such a way that allows for long, rolling
views of the woods around it.
The trail begins to
get steeper after the first mile and I’ve just
remembered something I’ve heard of the legends
surrounding Mt. Chocorua. We stop for a water break
and I ask, “Hey – Is it true there’s an old
hotel up here? I heard there’s a building…”
replies, “Well, not hotel exactly…There’s the
old cabin that’s always been up here. Its about
a little more than halfway to the summit and I’m
sure there’s one of those historical plaques you
Now I’m even
more ready to summit the mountain and see this
mysterious cabin for myself as we round off the
second mile by making our way up the ever
steepening rocky trail.
Just as I see the
cabin coming into view the trail gets
dramatically steeper, but it also skirts the
mountain in a way that affords us our first
gorgeous view of the valley below.
it would have been a view had the entire valley
not been completely blanketed by fog from the
marvel at the way the mountain trail just falls
out into pure white mist beneath me. This rainy,
mysterious hike is turning out to be a beautiful
walk through one of New Hampshire’s prettiest
areas. The cabin turns out to be a small
historic structure with a troop of scouts
escaping the rain inside of it.
unpopulated wilderness that we imagine, we press
on toward the summit.
The second half of
the hike proves to be markedly more difficult
that the first. With a little less than two
miles to go we find ourselves scurrying along
dangerous cliffs and climbing rock faces. The rain
makes the rock slippery and I’m a little nervous
to look out into the misty valley now.
After a mile
of rather tricky terrain we come to a rock slab
clearly marked with blazes as the trail upward.
It sports a metal grip in the middle and is
characterized by a long, raised crack, but
otherwise provides nothing to hold onto. The
grade is steep and should one fall the rock is
dangerously close to the cliff’s edge,
overlooking the valley. I have
difficulty bouldering up the slippery rock and
am nervous to support myself with the short grip
placed in the center.
make it up and off the rock face, but this
mountain has proved itself to me. I now know why
such a small mountain has such a big reputation
for its breathtaking and treacherous hiking.
After several more
technical climbs we are able to carefully pick
our way through the rocks and brace ourselves
against the wind to walk across the summit. The
top of Mount Chocorua is totally exposed and the
wind whips across it fiercely today. I look out
once again into the fog and think about the hike
up. The trail was difficult, very difficult at
the rainy end, but the views, even in the fog,
were wonderful and absolutely worth a
rain-soaked hike to the top.
I can’t add Chocorua to my list of 4,000 footers
I can say that it was one of my personal
favorites in New Hampshire hikes and I’m more
than ready to try it in drier weather.
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Jillian Jason, Writer
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Mount Chocorua is located in Tamworth NH.
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