Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sultry Hike to Whiteface and Passaconaway

The weather forecast was calling for a warm day with less humidity than yesterday and afternoon thunderstorms for Sunday so today seemed like the day for hiking. I would be joining Amy and Jill for a hike to Whiteface (4,020') and Passaconaway (4,043'). Our route would take us up the Blueberry Ledge Trail to Mount Whiteface then across the Rollins Trail and up to Mount Passaconaway descending on the Dicey's Mill Trail back to the Ferncroft parking area. This is a 12 mile loop hike that has some good ledge scrambling along the way.

Our meetup time was 7:30 but we all got there early and were on our way at about 7:15. As we got into the woods the temps were warm and the air was humid. It was a muggy climb with just an occasional light breeze that didn't help much. We stopped just before the first ledge scramble and took a short break to grab a snack, hydrate and cool off a bit. Then we were on our way up to have some fun on the ledges.

I have done these ledges before but keep forgetting how long these go on. There are several sections of ledges and each one is a bit tricky requiring careful footing and some occasional rock handholds. We moved right along and had no trouble climbing up these granite ledges. It was a very warm and muggy climb but fun. When we arrived at the top of the last ledges there was a nice breeze to greet us. We took a break and enjoyed the breeze.

It was then off to the Rollins Trail. The top of the ledges can be deceiving as this is not the summit of Mount Whiteface. The trail actually starts to go down then back up again eventually reaching a small cairn on the right side of the trail and a summit stick bolted to a tree directly across from it. We continued on the Rollins Trail with its easy ups and downs until reaching the Dicey's Mill Trail.

It's a moderate climb up Mount Passaconaway except for just below the summit where there are some steep sections. There is a limited view from an open ledge near the top and there was a nice cool breeze blowing here. A quick stop then we moved on to the summit that was a short spur path leading to a small cairn and no views. After a few pics we started our descent. Another quick stop at the outlook and we were on our way down.

It's a long 4.6 miles down from the summit. The good part is that after the first couple of miles the trail really smooths out and it's a pleasant hike. The one water crossing was very easy to cross. We all used a large log to cross on rather than the rocks just because it was there. It's another 2.3 miles to the parking lot from here but it always seems much longer for some reason.

It was nice to get back down to the dirt road walk that leads back to the Ferncroft parking area as it was becoming hot. Back at the parking lot we all agreed that it was warmer and more humid than we had expected but it was still a great hike. My last hike to these summits was solo and it seemed like a very long hike. With today's hiking companions it felt much shorter. Thanks Amy and Jill for a fun hike on a sultry day!

Enjoy the photos!

Mount Chocorua from Chocorua Lake on the way to the trailhead

 Whiteface and Passaconaway from Chocorua Lake

 Ferncroft parking area

The hike starts here

 Indian pipe

 Area of blowdowns

 Trail cairn

Not sure what this fuzzball is called


 First view from Blueberry Ledge Trail

 Large toad sitting very still

 Zooming in on the Ferncroft parking area

 Resting feet with a view

 Jill going vertical

 Amy after the first ledge scramble

 Looking out past the ledge to Chocorua

 Climbing more ledge

 Jill is ledge leaping

 Moving up another section of ledge

 ...and more ledge scrambling

 A look back from where we came

 Resting at the top of the ledges

 Standing on the last ledge

 Whiteface summit stick

 Whiteface summit cairn

 A very narrow trail and not a spot for a misstep

 More blowdowns

 Indian pipe just emerging

 Hazy view from the Rollins Trail

 Saw lots of crooked trees 

 Mount Whiteface from where we just came

 Wood sorrell

 Another crooked tree

 Elephant tree

 The Tripyramids from Mount Passaconaway

 Passaconaway summit cairn

 Mount Carrigain

 White admiral butterfly

 Water crossing

 We all used the log

 We're all safe and dry after the water crossing

 Dicey's Mill Trail

Wonalancet River

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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