A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Chocorua via Champney Falls

December 27, 2020
Emilie Phillips

Tyson joined the Wonalancet Out Door Club because they maintain the trails in the Sandwich range. They also publish a trail map to the range. It’s the best trail map! Not only does it have the hiking trails, it has the cross country ski trails and the snowmobile trails. It has obvious colors for wilderness and restricted camping areas. And it shows waterfalls and view points. I have already found two ski routes I want to try this winter.

Upper Champney Falls

Unfortunately, it poured 2 inches of rain on Christmas and melted all the snow. We would have to hike. Tyson pointed out that last time I picked a longer route up Chocorua, we didn’t make it. This time we hiked up the short route, Champney Falls. The only remnant of last week’s snow was the ridge of hard ice on the trail. The falls gushed water. There were knobs of ice and icicles everywhere.

The river crossings were full and icy. I had flashbacks to Isaac slipping into the stream on our Castle Ravine trip. We took the AMC guidebook’s advice and crossed Twin Brook on the highway. At the first Champney Brook ford, Tyson searched upstream for a crossing and instead found a blaze from an old variant of the trail. We followed that up a ridge and back down, avoiding two crossings. This old trail was clearly blazed and easy to follow in the middle. At both ends, the trail maintainers had piled logs across the trail and scrapped the blazes off trees. Why would someone want to get rid of a perfectly good trail up and around a river and replace it with two treacherous (and possibly impassable, in winter) stream crossings.

My 2017 AMC guide says this

The trail […] proceeds south at easy grades, mostly on an old logging road, to Champney Brook. There, at 0.5mi, Champney Falls Trail swings right and up onto a hemlock ridge to avoid an abandoned section of trail along the brook then descends left and returns to the old road along the brook at 0.7mi.

My 2003 AMC guidebook also says the trail went right, though without the details about the hemlock forest. So the trail was down by the stream and got washed out. Then the maintainers put it up on the ridge. And then they put it back down in the valley with two extra stream crossings. Why?

Isaac and Tyson at the junction of Piper Trail and Liberty Trail

The sun didn’t pop out until we reached the summit. Tyson is fascinated by the sharp summit of Mount Chocorua. He thinks this was his third time up. I couldn’t remember the mountain at all, even though we hiked it in 2008. Isaac liked best the frozen puddle near the top. It made a good ice skating rink.

Chocorua is one of the 52 with a view.

All Photos

GPS Track

Tyson’s new cell phone GPS isn’t as accurate as his old GPS. It jumps around a lot and adds distance to the track.