Passaconaway (4043′) and Whiteface (4020′) are two peaks in the Sandwich region of the White Mountain National Forest. Even though both mountains are just over the 4000 foot mark, it is a 11.9 mile hike over very steep and rocky terrain. We started at the Ferncroft parking area- a picturesque setting located off of route 113A.
We hiked up to Mount Whiteface via Blueberry Ledge Trail. There are many trails that intersect, but stay on this trail the whole way up.
Throughout the hike, there are many open rock slabs, but I wouldn’t consider them ledges. These sections gave us some beautiful views. Take some time to appreciate the views going up as the summits of Whiteface and Passaconaway are wooded and viewless.
There were a couple of really steep slabs. One of the gals in my group loves to rock climb and was excited for this challenge!
At this point we weren’t at the summit of Whiteface, but the South summit. We decided to take our lunch break a little early and enjoy the views as it was a beautiful day! In the background is Mount Chocorua.
|A view of the distant Presidentials
From here we hiked a good bit more and encountered a couple of false summits. At one point we got to what we thought was the highest point and didn’t see a cairn marking the summit. We continued down the trail as we heard that you can’t miss the cairn. We were unsure whether or not we did miss it as we went downhill quite a bit. Sure enough the trail began to climb again and we saw our cairn!
We continued down the trail to get to Passaconaway. The trail was downhill for quite a while. I didn’t have an altimeter on me, but we dropped about 1000 feet after bagging Whiteface. Once we hit the intersection of Dicey Mill Trail we began to level out more.
After a break on a pretty moderate trail, we began to ascend rather steeply to Passaconaway.
|Finally at the spur to Passaconaway
|The group at the summit
The summit of Passaconaway is wooded as well. There are a couple of nice view points that you pass on the way to the summit (see below). There is one sign that points to a view, but it was a long trail. We started down that path for a couple of minutes and then encountered lots of mud and decided to hang out at the gorgeous view we passed earlier. Scratched into the sign someone wrote something about there not being a view. We joked that a bear made the sign and was waiting for us down the trail!
After a break near the summit of Passaconaway, we descended down Diceys Mill Trail. It was pretty steep and rocky for the first mile, but then was more moderate for the last 1.4 miles. For some reason I began to feel sick coming down. I drank plenty of water, but I don’t think my CamelBak was cleaned well enough, which made my stomach upset. I made it though and enjoyed the hike nonetheless. Toward the end of the hike we came to our only real stream crossing and it was a good one! A birch tree was our bridge to to other side. Good thing it wasn’t raining! We would have been scooting across.
After 11.9 miles we made it back to our cars. I am so very happy that we had perfect weather and the blackflies weren’t bad. The summits aren’t much to talk about but the hike was exciting with the rock scrambles and views on the way up. I find that many of the peaks just over 4000 feet seem to be the most difficult. I guess there’s less distance for all those rock scrambles! I definitely recommend this hike to those who want to spend a day in the Whites.
Approach from: Ferncroft Parking off of rt 113A in Sandwich, NH
Height- Whiteface: 4020′ feet Passaconaway: 4043′ feet
Distance: 11.9 miles
Hiking time: About 8 to 8 1/2 hours with about an hour break altogether.
Last modified: July 13, 2017