Saturday, November 21, 2015


After looking over at the great SE ridge of Mount Chocorua from the Piper Trail on 11/16, I decided to revisit several great off-trail view ledges there while traversing the Hammond Trail, one of my favorite routes on the mountain. As a bonus I could also snag four seldom-logged geocaches.

Along its lower section the Hammond Trail follows the meandering little course of Stony Brook, which has its headwaters at "The Heart of the Mountain," as it was named by 19th century naturalist and author Frank Bolles.

It was another in a series of crisp, sunny November days.

A fluffy ankle-deep leaf carpet made for tricky footing in the hardwoods.

The Hammond Trail climbs steadily through a classic American beech forest.

There are many bear trees in here.

Higher up, the trail switchbacks through a mixed forest of oak and spruce.

Near the top of the spur known as Bald Mountain, this ledge just off the trail offers a nice resting spot and a view of the Ossipee Range.

I soon launched a bushwhack to the eastern ledges of Bald, a favorite spot that I've been to several times in the past. An additional inducement was two off-trail geocaches. This ledge has a nice view south over Chocorua Lake.

The expansive ledges that gave this spur its name.

The eastern ledges offer a unique angle on Mount Chocorua, the Three Sisters and Carter Ledge rising above the Chocorua River valley.

A closer look at Chocorua and the Sisters.

Back on the Hammond Trail.

Spruce blowdowns taken out a few years ago by the Chocorua Mountain Club.

The trail scrambles up this rocky cleft.

East-viewing ledges accessed via a short side path.

A framed vista of Carter Ledge.

Ledgy rambling along the Hammond Trail.

A peek at the peak.

Deep spruce forest is the rule on the long SE ridge.

Glacial erratics.

Chocorua's summit looms ahead.

At the 3 mile mark, the Hammond Trail meets the Liberty Trail, which here ascends easily along the west side of the ridge.

My next stop was an off-trail ledge to the west of the trail, a phenomenal open viewpoint.

The high summits of the Sandwich Range.

An unusual angle looking up at Chocorua's rocky summit.

Quite the peak!

For an hour I felt like the king of the Sandwich Range.

My last short bushwhack took me to ledges on a nameless knob south of Jim Liberty Cabin. More great views here, including this one of Chocorua, Silver and Ossipee Lakes beyond the Hammond Trail ridge.

Far-reaching views to the NE.

A fine angle on Chocorua and the Sisters in late afternoon light.

One last look at the Sandwich Range from yet another ledge.

From the Hammond Trail on Bald Mountain, sunset over Mount Israel. The last mile of descent by headlamp through the deep leaves was slow going.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


On one of numerous fine sunny November days,  I did some exploring along the Piper Trail on the east side of Mount Chocorua. Though this is reputed to be the most popular route of Chocorua, I saw no other hikers on this trek.

This sign provides a little trail history at the large trailhead parking area off Route 16.

Because I was planning a couple of off-trail side excursions, I did not set my sights on reaching the summit of Chocorua. The days are just too darn short in mid-November.

The walking on the lower Piper Trail was very pleasant in the morning sun.

It's a great time of year in the hardwood forest.

Partway up the valley, a short bushwhack up to a small gravelly slide revealed an impressive view up to Mount Chocorua.

Middle Sister and Carter Ledge enclose the other side of the valley.

Looking back up the small slide.

After crossing the Chocorua River (a mountain brook at this point), the trail leads through an attractive hemlock forest.

One of the day's objectives was to explore along the southwest fork of the Chocorua River. A fascinating 1940s Chocorua Mountain Club map, compiled by Arthur C. Comey, shows the word "Falls" partway up this branch. (A copy of the map can be seen here, courtesy of the Dartmouth College library.) Though water flow was low, in the course of bushwhacking up this brook for a couple hundred feet of elevation, I came upon several drops that could have been the "Falls" on the map. This was the first.

Just above was a nice waterslide.

This reminded me of Waternomee Falls off the Carr Mountain Trail.

Next up was a big slab with cascades at the top.

I liked this long, twisting cascade best of all.

An upper part of the cascade.

Rock-a-blocks on the steep bushwhack back up to the Piper Trail.

Rugged spruce forest.

Back on the Piper Trail in an area with many well-constructed rock stair cases.

I followed the rather steep side trail to Camp Penacook, which climbs 200 ft. in 0.2 mile.

This shelter, originally built by the Chocorua Mountain Club in 1916, has a premier location at an elevation of 2700 ft.

A view of Ossipee Lake from a ledge in front of the shelter.

Most campers seem to be complying with these guidelines, though some trees have been hacked down behind the shelter.

I found the "Pied Piper" geocache up behind the shelter. There was a familiar pair of names at the bottom.

I returned to the Piper Trail and headed up to the first few view ledges on the spur ridge it ascends.

Ridgelines sweep down from the great southeast ridge of Chocorua.

Late day sun on the granite face of Carter Ledge.

Gazing down the wide Chocorua River valley.

Looking up at Three Sisters Ridge.

The shadow of Chocorua's horn.

The sun disappearing behind Chocorua.

The iconic peak, seen from the huge open ledge along the trail at 2840 ft. Another great day of exploring on this marvelous mountain.