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Mount Chocorua
Mount Chocorua and Chocorua Lake (8101442800) cropped.jpg
Mount Chocorua and Chocorua Lake
Highest point
Elevation 3,480 ft (1,060 m)
Prominence 1,240 ft (380 m)
Geography
Location Albany, New Hampshire, U.S.
Parent range Sandwich Range, White Mountains
Topo map USGS Mount Chocorua
Climbing
Easiest route Piper Trail
Champney Falls Trail
Liberty Trail

Mount Chocorua (IPA: /ʃʌˈkɔʊˌɹwə/) is a 3,490 ft (1,060 m) mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range. Although the mountain is not outstanding for its elevation, it is very rugged and has excellent views of the surrounding lakes, mountains, and forests. Mount Chocorua's bare summit can be seen from almost every direction and identified from many points throughout central New Hampshire and western Maine. Many hiking trails ascend the mountain. Scenic Chocorua Lake lies directly to the south.

Geography

Mount Chocorua is in the town of Albany and is the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest. The Sandwich Range is located north of the Lakes Region and south of the Kancamagus Highway. The range extends about 30 miles (50 km) east-west from Conway on the Saco River to Campton on the Pemigewasset.

Chocorua's summit is a picturesque rocky cone, and the mountain is purported to be one of the most photographed in the world. The view from Chocorua Lake, which often casts a reflection of the mountaintop, was chosen to represent the White Mountain National Forest on a quarter issued by the U.S. Mint in 2013 as part of its America the Beautiful coin series.

The Chocorua Lake basin is protected by the Chocorua Lake Conservancy, previously the Chocorua Lake Association & Chocorua Lake Conservation Foundation.

Hiking trails

Mount Chocorua (JJH)
Mount Chocorua from Fowler's Mill Road

Although Mount Chocorua is under 3,500 feet (1,100 m) in elevation, its bare and rocky summit commands excellent views in all directions. There are many trails up the mountain, and they can be quite crowded during the summer months. Especially popular are the Piper Trail (4.2 miles (6.8 km) each way from the east), the Champney Falls Trail (from the north), and the Liberty Trail (from the southwest). Trails on the southeastern section of the mountain, as well as trails on Mount Paugus immediately to the west of Chocorua, are maintained by the Chocorua Mountain Club, an all-volunteer crew since 1908.
Hiking trails (listed clockwise, starting from southwest side):

  • Liberty Trail
  • Brook Trail
  • Bolles Trail
  • Bee Line Trail
  • Champney Falls Trail
  • Middle Sister Trail
  • Carter Ledge Trail
  • Nickerson Ledge Trail
  • Piper Trail
  • Weetamoo Trail
  • Hammond Trail

Legends

JScott, Mount Chocorua (JJH-JWAS104)
Mount Chocorua, John White Allen Scott (1815-1907)

The Chocorua legend tells of a Native American prophet or chief, Chocorua, who is supposed to have lived near the mountain at the dawn of white settlement, although no authentic records of his life are known to exist. The usual story—much of it drawn from a short work of fiction by Lydia Maria Child—is that in about 1720 Chocorua was on friendly terms with settlers and in particular the Campbell family that had a home in the valley now called Tamworth. Chocorua was called away and left his son in the care of the Campbell family. The boy found and drank a poison that Mr. Campbell had made to eliminate troublesome foxes, and Chocorua returned to find his son had died. Chocorua, distraught with grief, pledged revenge on the family. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Campbell returned home one afternoon to find his wife and children had been slain. Campbell suspected Chocorua and pursued him up the mountain. Chocorua was wounded by a shot from Campbell's rifle and, uttering a curse upon the white settlers, he leaped from the summit to his death.

There are at least three other versions of the legend of Chocorua. One is that Chocorua simply fell from a high rock on the mountain while hunting. A second is the white settlers pursued Chocorua up the mountain after an Indian massacre, and he leaped to his death. The third is that all the white settlers pursued him with guns, pitchforks, and torches. As Chocorua reached the top, the settlers decided to torch the remaining trees and in doing so they burned and exposed the topsoil of the last 1,270 feet (390 m). As the flames drew closer to Chocorua, he cursed the white men and leaped to his death.

The curse

Chocorua from Carter Ledge
The east face of Mount Chocorua from Carter Ledge

Although the exact words of Chocorua's curse (or even if there was a curse) are not known, it has been reported (Mudge, page 34) to be as follows.

"May the Great Spirit curse you when he speaks in the clouds and his words are fire! Lightning blast your crops! Wind and fire destroy your homes! The Evil One breathe death on your cattle! Panthers howl and wolves fatten on your bones!"

Another version appears in the story "Chocorua's Curse", by Lydia Maria Child, contained in The Token (1830):

"A curse upon ye, white men! May the Great Spirit curse ye when he speaks in the clouds, and his words are fire! Chocorua had a son — and ye killed him while the sky looked bright! Lightning, blast your crops! Wind and fire destroy your dwellings! The Evil Spirit breathe death upon your cattle! Your graves lie in the war path of the Indian! Panthers howl, and wolves fatten over your bones! Chocorua goes to the Great Spirit — his curse stays with the white men!"

The Chocorua legend is featured on a New Hampshire historical marker (number 31) along New Hampshire Route 16 in Tamworth.

Panorama

Mt Chocorua Peak Facing South
Looking south from the summit
  • AMC White Mountain Guide, Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston: Twenty-fourth edition, 1987. ISBN: 0-910146-61-6.
  • Hixon, Robert and Mary. The Place Names of the White Mountains, Down East Books: Camden, Maine 1980.
  • Mudge, John T. B. The White Mountains: Names, Places & Legends, The Durand Press: Etna, New Hampshire 1992.
  • Speare, Eva A. ed. New Hampshire Folk Tales, Phoenix Publishing: Canaan, New Hampshire 1974.
  • Driscoll, John Paul, and John K. Howat, John Frederick Kensett: An American Master, New York: Worcester Art Museum, in association with W.W. Norton & Company, 1985.
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