December 7, 2011 / Comments (3)


Last Sunday (12/4/11) I took on another solo hike in the White Mountains. This time I would journey up the three peaks of Mount Hancock. Two of the three peaks count as official 4000-footers.
Trail damage from Hurricane Irene

Parking is very easy to find as opposed to many of the hikes I have done. If you know the Kanc, you will find parking right before the hairpin turn. It is a few miles after the Hancock camping site. The trail is across the street so be VERY careful when crossing as you cross at the hairpin turn.

The majority of the trail has very gentle grades. I was surprised by how long I was able to keep all my layers on before I started to really work up a sweat!

This was the only snow covered section. It has been rather warm for December and absolutely no special foot gear (snowshoes, microspikes) was needed today.

There were numerous stream crossings (I counted five) which made the hike interesting. Some of the rocks were covered in ice so it did help to use a trekking pole. I was glad my boots are waterproof, too!

Wet trail

On the hike you will start on the Hancock Notch Trail and then follow the sign to Cedar Brook Trail/Hancock Loop Trail.

There was a good amount of ice on the trail, but mainly on the wide sections which were very easy to navigate around.

One of the few steeper sections of the trail before the trail to North Peak.

I was very surprised by how wet and muddy some of the sections were (as you can see!) and managed to get my foot stuck in the mud. At least there were plenty of steams to clean it off!

I knew at this point the trail would be much tougher as the last .5 miles to North Peak climbs about 1000 feet of elevation. You can choose to hike North Peak first or take the loop towards South Peak. Either way, you will hike some serious elevation gain!

Somewhat of a view of Arrow Slide

I have been reading Tom Ryan’s book Following Atticus and that night after my trip I happened to read about them hiking the Hancocks. In response to the .5 mile section Tom wrote, “In my previous hikes on the Hancocks, I’d come to know that slow, painful climb as the place where I paid for my Ben and Jerry sins. I’d take twenty steps, stop, hang over my trekking poles, gasp for air, let the sweat run down my face, and swear off junk food forever.” I couldn’t help but laugh as I felt exactly the same way except with less face sweat and a promise of using the StairMaster more.

I often stopped to look at the views and hoped the trio I met at the parking lot didn’t catch up. I had started the same time as two women and a man who I saw only a couple of times earlier when taking off layers. I often looked back thinking they would be only fifteen feet behind. When I didn’t see them, I thought they had gone up South Peak.

North Peak

The view was gorgeous. It was windy, but you could see the Osceolas and Scar Ridge. This was better than I expected from what I read on other trip reports. After spending a good deal of time looking at the views and some lunch, the trio I met earlier caught up. It turns out two of them had finished the NH 4Ks and the third had hiked around thirty of them. I left them to go to the South Peak, but did hike down with them. They were good company.

South Peak

At some point I passed Middle Peak, but didn’t notice it…. Overall it was a very moderate hike and the easier out of the 4000 footers I have hiked. This would be a great winter hike. Be cautious of the stream crossings in high water o when very icy, though.

Panoramic View From North Peak Outlook

Quick Facts:
Parking: The parking lot for this hike is right on the tip of the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus Hwy/112.

The parking lot is called the Hancock Overlook.

From I-93, take exit 32 towards North Woodstock/Lincoln, NH. Turn left onto 112E, and continue for 10.5 miles until you reach the parking lot.

Route: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail, (Mt. Hancock North Peak), Hancock Loop Trail, (Mt. Hancock South Peak), Hancock Loop Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Notch Trail

North Peak: 4,420 ft
South Peak: 4,319 ft

Distance: 10.4 miles

Time: 5:45 for both peaks and breaks; book time 6:15

Last modified: November 28, 2014

3 Responses to :

  1. Wonderful pictures. I like how you recap the hike at the end with the mileage and how long it took. Which guidebooks do you use and what type of boots do you have? I just finished Following Atticus and I loved it!

  2. Thanks Kim! I’m always looking for that information on other blogs! A map will be up shortly as well. I reference The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains by Steve Smith and Mike Dickerman

    It’s pretty much my hiking bible. Steve Smith’s shop (link above) is mentioned in Following Atticus. You can also get the book at Amazon, EMS, etc. I also like AMC’s White Mountain Guide and their maps. I just purchased a new map that another hiker recommended. It’s called Exploring New Hampshire White Mountains Topographic Map & Guide. I found it at EMS. It has all the 4Ks and a lot of great features (plus it’s waterproof!)

    The boots are Lowa Bora GTX. They’re expensive, but are waterproof and are so comfortable. I wore them hiking the day after I got them and never get blisters. I waited until I had a good coupon at REI 🙂

  3. Cristal says:

    Great info ! Thank you : )

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