In early 2017 my friend Michael and hike snowshoed a loop of Mount Whiteface and Mount Passaconaway. I was grabbing them for my Grid and Winter New Hampshire 4000 Footers lists, and he was getting them for his New Hampshire 4000 Footers list.
We started at Ferncroft Parking and headed up the road to the start of Blueberry Ledge Trail. We climbed up Blueberry Ledge Trail to Mount Whiteface and then snowshoed along the ridge on Rollins Trail until it intersected Diceys Mill Trail, which we ascended to the summit of Mount Passaconaway. We hiked down Walden Trail to Wonalancet Range Trail, which we follow out to complete our loop to our car.
Date Hiked: 04 February 2017 Elevation Gain: 4500′ Distance: 11.0 miles Book Time: 7:45
Completed Red-Lining Trails: Blueberry Ledge Trail Wonalancet Range Trail
The goal for the day was to get Mount Madison for my December grid, but after a mile of Valley Way I realized that I left my headlamp at home. I turned around and hit up Mount Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch. A much shorter hike and a summit on the 52 With A View list.
Map of hike
Read after the jump for a summary, photos and stats.
What do you do on the final full day of winter? Get in your last Winter New Hampshire 4000 Footer of the season of course. Since the weather was going to be mild, a couple of friends and I decided to bushwhack to Mount Isolation. It was a Winter 4000 Footer that none of us had, and since we had done the other difficult Winter bushwhack of Owls Head, we figured we would round out the season.
The night before, one of my friends and I camped out at Barne’s Field Group Campground. As drove through Pinkham Notch it started to snow, but it was not supposed to accumulate to anything. We were surprised to find many of the campsites were being used, it must have been due to the favorable forecast. We did dinner over a fire and hit the sack early.
We met our other friend at 8:00am at the Rocky Branch Trail parking. There were about 10 cars in the lot and the weather was sunny, in the 20°s and breezy. We were somewhat surprised that there was no snow on the ground, the forest floor looked more like May than March. The plan was to hike Rocky Branch Trail to the top of Engine Hill and then do Engine Hill Bushwhack to bypass all of the water crossings on Isolation Trail. We would then hike Isolation Trail after doing a single water crossing and finally Davis Path and Isolation Spur to the summit.
As the last weeks of winter rolled around I considered a winter ascent of Mount Washington. Unfortunately, there were a lot of icy trail reports that dissuaded me from attempting Washington. Instead, I decided to return to Mount Chocorua as I really enjoyed the summit and I was hoping that the lower elevation would mean less ice. Plus, in a few months the weather would be nice and undoubtedly the crowds would return to the mountains and I wouldn’t be hiking Chocorua then.
I chose Piper Trail as the starting point of the hike and would go up Nickerson Ledge Trail, Carter Ledge Trail and Middle Sister Trail to make the hike into a lollipop loop. I got to the parking lot at 8:00 am, and there were no cars in the lot. It was pretty windy (the final icing on the no-go-Washington cake) and partly cloudy. The forecast was calling for a significant drop in wind speed and a clearing of the clouds.