On May 5 my hiking partner in crime and I decided to head up to NH and check off some peaks on our new quest to hike all of New Hampshire’s 48 4000(+) foot peaks. With the help of a fantastic Groupon deal at the nearby Woodstock Inn, we arbitrarily settled on May 5-6, crossed our fingers, and hoped for some decent weather.
We REALLY lucked out… what a beautiful day!! Bright blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and temps in the 60s with very minimal wind. Short sleeves the whole way.
We decided on the Hancocks, an approximately 10 mile hike that would bag two peaks. We headed out at around 10:45 after driving up to the trailhead that morning. We started out at the Hancock Trailhead at the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus highway.
We headed up the Hancock Trail, to the Cedar Brook Trail, to the Hancock Loop Trail. We chose to summit North Hancock first, traverse to South Hancock, and then descend from there and return.
The early portions of the trail were pretty moderate. The trail was not very steep, initially clear with increasing snow, ranging from the spring monorail to deeper and deeper snow as we gained elevation. The higher elevations of the hike had a few feet of snow remaining.
This was a really fun hike, and very challenging with the terrain. The climb to the summit is short (less than a mile) and steep (no matter which peak you hit first), and the snow added another layer of difficulty for sure. We definitely did some post-holing as the day warmed up and the snow softened (I didn’t bother to stop and change from micro spikes to snowshoes…. So occasionally found myself buried to my hip in snow. Oops.). The water crossings were tricky also- the warming weather was melting the snow and steadily increasing the water levels – there were some sections that I could see can potentially get scary, especially if you are inexperienced.
We were able to cross all of them without any significant difficulty, but resigned ourselves to wet feet for the last couple of miles and just walked through some of the last sections of water crossings. I think this was a safer (though not ideal) option, as the temps were warm and we were almost done. Trying to wander around and find rocks to hop across would have taken unnecessary time and made the risk of slipping and falling much worse. So, damp feet it was!
Last two miles…. Two Roads lil’ heaven for the win!
The weather was phenomenal, and the views from the summits beautiful. Being in the mountains is so peaceful! Overall this was a great hike. The snow and water crossings made it very challenging wit he warming temps… I would definitely be VERY cautious if attempting this as a spring hike. This took us over 7 hours (counting photo stops and lunch break), so it was slow going!
We rounded out the day with a drink and snack stop at the Common Man, and then spent the night at the Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery. So much fun, can’t wait to head back North!!