- Driving Distance: 85 miles
- Hiking Distance: 8 miles round trip
- Difficulty Level: Moderate
Head north on 91, and travel as if you were going to the lodge (exit 91 in Fairlee, get on 25A, turn left at the T onto 25 north, take a right onto 118 just past Warren). Continue onto 118 until it ends at 112. Take a right onto 112 east, which becomes the Kancamangus Highway. After 28 miles on the Kanc, look for Champney Falls trailhead on the right. Park here.
take route 4 east through Enfield, taking a left onto route 104, north onto Interstate 93 and off at exit 24 for US-3 toward Ashland/Holderness, follow route 3 east, and turn left at route 113, follow this through Sandwich and take route 113A to a sharp left at Fowlers Mill Road (dirt), and a left at Paugus Rd., which ends at the trailhead (with parking).
Stop at Sandwich Creamery on your way up or back: on your way there, look for a sign featuring a cow for the turn off 113. It has great ice cream and cheese from the cows directly behind the creamery.
Hiking from North End:
Follow the Champney Falls trail south until it ends at the intersection of the Piper Trail and Middle Sister Trail. There is a cutoff about halfway up the Champney Falls trail to go see the waterfall, which is only a little bit longer and well worth taking. Piper Trail leads directly to the summit of Chocorua, Middle Sister trail takes a longer route which goes over Middle Sister, then heads over to Chocorua. Both peaks have fantastic views.
Hiking From South End:
Liberty and Brook are both great trails. Liberty is probably a bit more direct, but both converge near the summit. The trailheads for both are clearly marked at the parking lot at the end of Paugus Rd. (see driving directions).
This hike is one of the best view-to-work ratios to be found in the Whites. The climb is only ~2000ft, and the summit is completely bald, unlike many much higher peaks. According to legend, the summit was once forested, but bears a curse which will forever prevent trees from growing there. Wikipedia's version of the legend is:
"About 1720 Chocorua was on friendly terms with settlers and, in particular, the Campbell family that had a home in the valley now called Tamworth. Chocorua was called away and left his son in the care of the Campbell family. The boy found and drank a poison that Mr. Campbell had made to eliminate troublesome foxes, and Chocorua returned to find his son had died. Chocorua, distraught with grief, pledged revenge on the family. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Campbell returned home one afternoon to find his wife and children had been slain. Campbell suspected Chocorua and pursued him up the mountain that today bears his name. Chocorua was wounded by a shot from Campbell's rifle. Before Campbell could reach Chocorua, he uttered a curse upon the white settlers and their homes, livestock, and crops, and leapt from the summit to his death."
Advice and Anecdotes
The rocky ledges of Chocorua's bald summit pose a difficult climb in the winter. From the north (i.e. Route 112), the Champney Falls/Piper trails will take you over a number of ledges and boulders on the way to the summit. The combination of rock, ice, and precipitous drops here is quite scary in the winter! If you'd like to ascend Chocorua in the winter, be sure to have crampons (ice axes wouldn't be a bad idea, either) for all your trippees, and take your time with route-finding. Don't be afraid to back-track and try a number of different possible routes in order to minimize your risk of a dangerous fall.
There is also a "Bad Weather Loop", which might follow a safer, less exposed path to the summit. It's definitely worth a look if conditions are bad!
5/1/2010: We hiked up the Liberty Trail, summited, and descended on the Brook Trail. The weather was awesome with temperatures just under 80 F., zero wind, and 100+ mile visibility. The trails were wet in places, making for slippery slick rock toward the top of both trails, but especially on Brook Trail. Both trails are in need of serious chainsaw work. We passed over and under at least 35 blowdowns. The trails were otherwise in good condition and have completely melted. Mud was present, but not an issue due to left over leaves from fall covering most of it. If coming from the south end, like we did, stop at Sandwich Creamery (134 Hannah Road Sandwich, NH 03227 -- marked with a sign featuring a cow) for excellent, fairly priced cheese and ice cream (cash only). This spot is one of the best road-side local food stops I've come across in New England. Overall, a great day of hiking from the south end of Mt. Chocorua.
5/7/2012 Ascent on Brooke, Descent on Liberty. This was a good route, with a more gentle hike down. Brooke has some steep granite slabs that would be tricky to get down, especially with bad conditions. Conditions on the summit were picturesque, even sublime. Wind was light (out kite didn't fly). Sandwich Creamy was delicious, and the animals were adorable. Julia H.M. and Zach M.
5/19/2013 Leaders: Jon King, Max Deibel. Hiked up Brooke and down Liberty. Would recommend this route as Brooke is steeper than Liberty and thus harder to descend. The bottom of Brooke was slightly less established/very rooty, but the trails are otherwise in excellent shape. Incredible 360 views from the summit; it's an excellent place to begin learning the names and locations of peaks in the area. Sandwich creamery was tasty (but bring cash not credit).
5/11/2014: Leaders: Paige Wilson '14 and Loring Schaible '17. Trip members: Joanna Millstein '17, Kieran Sim '17, and Rebecca Holland '17. We could not have asked for a better day. Beautiful views. Nice lunch. We hiked up Brooke and down Liberty. We also stopped by Sandwich Creamery, it was way tasty.
5/3/2015: Leaders: Jalen Benson and Jessie Colin. We started hiking the Champeney Falls Trail at 10:45 am and reached a partial summit at 1:30 pm. The entire trail upward was incredibly muddy and water was running down the trail. About a mile away from the summit we needed to use the microspikes as the trail was still snowy. We took our time hiking as it was a lovely, warm day (and were a larger group of 8). We ate lunch until about 2 pm then summited. Clear views, incredible. We headed back down the trail at 2:20 pm. We reached the bottom at 4:35 pm and arrived on campus two hours later. Round trip was 7.6 miles.