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Mount Chocorua Hiking Trails Tamworth NH


All NH Hiking Trails >> 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 Chocorua.  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 trailhead.  My fellow 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.  Hoisting my 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.  New 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.  Its true 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.  Eager to experience the mountain for ourselves, we begin our hike at the Liberty Trail trailhead, walking down a relatively flat path for several hundred yards.


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 little elevation.  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.


Mt. Chocorua Tamworth NH


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…”  The expert 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 can read.”  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.  Or rather, it would have been a view had the entire valley not been completely blanketed by fog from the rain.  I still 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.  Favoring the 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.  Slowly we 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.  Although 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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by Jillian Jason, Writer

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Mount Chocorua is located in Tamworth NH.

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Article about NH hiking trails: Hiking Mount Chocorua in Tamworth New Hampshire





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