Mount Hancock

Mount Hancock (4420')
South Hancock (4319')


2003 June 25

We hiked the Hancocks (4420' and 4319') on Wednesday June 26th. Our choice for the hike was based on the weather, but our trip still came out lacking in several ways. It was too hot. We knew this and packed extra water and left any cold weather gear. The bugs were particularly bad here. Elleing covered herself with deet to alleviate the pests and as long as we kept moving they weren't too bad. The views from the summit are very limited and the viewing area is very small. The two steep trails are very eroded and very rocky. On the plus side, the trees shaded us from the scorching sun all day, most of the 9.8 miles is fairly flat, and the trail didn't have much of the manicured, "civilized" look.

The Hancocks are reached by a wooded trail that starts from the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus. Parking is actually 600 feet up the road. It was hazy, hot, and humid, so we looked for a hike in the trees to shelter us from the heat. It's a 9.8 mile route gaining 2650' which doesn't climb much in the first 3 miles. There were no campers, but it seems that this is a popular area for them because there were plenty of camp sites along the way. There were several stream crossing, but this time of year, the water is too low to be an issue.

Parking is 600' down the road. trailhead stream_crossing

It wasn't until we were about 0.5 miles into the Hancock Loop Trail we began a steady climb. The trail then came to the loop junction. We chose to hike the South summit first as recommended in a guide I read. It's after this junction that the trail gets steep. Very steep. I'd estimate that we climb over 800 feet in the 0.5 mile from the junction to the summit. The trail is very eroded and rocks tumbled down the trail as we worked our way up.

Temps were still in the 80's even on the summit. The bugs had been ferocious and were worse now that we stopped. The summit is completely treed-in and only has a clearing about 20' in diameter. The outlook near the summit is just a ledge with a tree clearing and restricted views. Mt. Carrigain is visible which is a bit funny since Carrigain is said to have some of the best views in the Whites. It has an outlook platform which we could see from where we were. We had planned on eating lunch here, but decided to eat on the trail instead. With a sandwich in one hand and our poles in our packs, we started hiking in ridge land and never turned back.

elleing_on_hancock_south_summit

The ridge trail descends a while then climbs over a good size peak on the ridge. The trail descends once more before climbing towards the summit of the north peak. It's a moderate 1.4 miles. The North summit was very similar to the first, but the outlook faces the other direction. The bugs were even worse. We got out of there quick, but the trail down was horrendous. It was steeper and more rock strewn than the trail up. We even removed the rubber tips from our poles to help get ourselves safely down. It was easy to see why the ascent of the South summit was recommended. At least the trail wasn't wet.

hancock_south carrigain_from_hancock shawn_on_hancock eroded_trail

We passed the disappearing stream. Well, I think it was the disappearing stream. I couldn't tell because the whole stream had disappeared. I've read that at certain times of the year a stream babbles up to the left side of the trail and just disappears with no water coming out of the right side of the trail. It's too bad. It could have been the highlight of the trip. Instead the highlight seems to be the incredible number of frogs on the trail that would quickly hop out of the way lest they get impaled by an errant pole plant.

disappearing_stream_down disappearing_stream_up frog

We reached the car 5 hours and 40 minutes after we started. Book time is 6:13, but we never stopped for a break and you can really move on the flat sections. As of this writing, this hike is definitely at the bottom of our list. If you looking for a long trek through the woods without much climbing until you reach the base, then this trail might be for you. I've been told it's a better winter hike. Maybe we'll see some day.


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