Velvet Rocks

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Velvet Rocks
Velvet Rocks moss.jpg
The moss growing in a pasture along the Velvet Rocks spur trail.
Drive None
Hike 3.4
Difficulty easy

Velvet Rocks trail is a portion of the Appalachian Trail running north from Hanover, NH. It can be a short, fun "walk in the woods" type trip if you just go to the shelter, or you can extend it to a ~5 mile round-trip hike to see the moss pastures from which it gets its name.

The trail begins behind the Hanover Co-op, on park street, and runs up to Trescott Road east of Hanover. The trail is maintained by the Dartmouth Outing Club.


Follow the white rectangular blazes (AT trail markers) on telephone poles and the backs of signs.

Go south down Main street from the Green. Turn left onto Lebanon Street and walk down Lebanon st to the Coop. Between the co-op and Mobil Station, follow the gravel road along the south edge of the sports fields. At the southeast corner of the fields, the road becomes an actual trail as it crosses a log bridge and enters the woods. At 1.5 miles, after gaining the ridge and continuing north, a trail junction is reached. The right fork is the AT proper, which continues north to moss-covered Velvet Rocks. The left blue-blazed side loop leads to Velvet Rocks Shelter. Take the left fork. At 1.7 miles, arrive at Velvet Rocks Shelter. Turn around here for a 3.4-mile round trip or follow the trail as it climbs the ledges directly behind the shelter. The trail rejoins the AT in a third of a mile.

If you wish to see the "velvet rocks", continue north on the Appalachian Trail from here. After a little under half a mile, you will come to a steep hill with a rope tied to a tree to help you climb up. Continue up this hill (it's about 200 meters, most of which is rope-free); when the trail flattens out, keep your eye out for a spur trail on the left side - it's very difficult to spot while hiking north. If you start descending again, you'll know you've missed it - turn around, the spur trail is probably no more than 150 meters behind you. Once you find the spur trail, follow it for a very short ways to a pretty cool pasture of ghostly white moss.

To get back to Hanover, return to the AT and follow the white blazes back to town. (An even longer hike continues north on the AT from the summit of Velvet Rocks. After crossing a swamp on a boardwalk, the trail reaches Trescott Road in Etna at 4.2 miles. From there it is a 3.5 mile road-walk back to town.)

Trip Reports


Group: Anna Knowles (leader), Maddy Kroot (heeler), Mia Kobs, Colleen O'Connor, Daisy Xu, Anna Miller

Weather: Brisk, but still warm for February.

Route: Appalachian Trail from campus, took Trescott Spur to the road and then over Balch Hill and through the golf course back to campus.

Time: Round trip ~4 hours

Notes: This trip was also originally intended to be Mt. Cube. Due to a malfunctioning minivan, we ended up exploring around campus instead. There were some icy spots, so microspikes were helpful, but we did most of the hike in bare boots. We stopped at the shelter, which was in good condition. Trail was mostly clear with two main blow downs, one of which we cleared. Where the Trescott Spur trail meets the road, there are a few large trees blocking the trail which have been partially cut by chainsaw but not moved out of the path.


Group: Max Deibel (heeler), Will Bishop (co-leader), 3 tripees (this trip report is being written ~1 year later, unfortunately I can't remember names...)

Weather: Cold, but not unreasonable for February. Cloudy.

Route: Appalachian Trail from campus

Time: Round trip ~3 hours

Notes: This trip was originally intended to be Mt. Cube; however, due to major crumpage (over half of the tripees canceled) and snowfall in the morning (snowfall which meant we weren't allowed to drive), the few of us who remained decided to hike Velvet Rocks. The trail was basically solid ice covered with some powder, which resulted in a much slower pace than we thought at first. We took snowshoes - I wouldn't recommend them for future trips. We saw both the shelter and the snow-covered velvet rocks before heading back to campus.


Group: Molly Ryan (heeler), Steve Tebbe (co-leader), 9 Trippees: Sarah Colon, Abby Reynolds, Tyler Kelsall (+ Friend), Katherine Hastings, Eamon Murphy, Sara Holston, Sera Kwan, Yi He

Weather: Brisk with wet leaves on the ground

Route: Appalachian Trail from campus

Time: Round trip ~4 hours

Notes: Trail was a little slippery (due to wet leaves) and hard to follow near the velvet rocks shelter. Would recommend repainting blazes to make more obvious. Additionally, there was a bee's nest on the trail, which should be killed by winter. Otherwise a great fun hike!


Group: Perri Haser (heeler), Adam Schneider (co-leader), 6 Trippees: Piper Curtis, Fabian Stocek, Mark Sheridan, Katherine Hake, Amelia Ritger, and Nature Dave

Weather: 50s and cloudy. Started out raining but stopped for the majority of the hike.

Route: Appalachian Trail from campus

Time: Round Trip ~3.5 hours

Notes: Trail was pretty muddy and icy in places. Overall quite slippery but doable without micro spikes. Overall some fun hiking!