The Liberty Trail is the easiest route to the summit of Mt Chocorua and one of the most popular hiking routes. An excellent loop trip can be made by ascending the Brook Trail and descending the Liberty Trail.
History: The Liberty Trail (formerly the Chocorua Mountain Road) is an old bridle path that Jim (Dutch) Liberty improved in 1887 and incorporated with the state of New Hampshire in 1889. The Liberty Trail was the shortest and most popular road to the summit of Mt Chocorua and to the original Peak House, which was two tents surrounded by a stone wall. At the Halfway House, a former logging camp, pedestrians had to pay a toll of $.25 each (about $30 by today’s standards). Some evidence of the Halfway House may still be found.
In 1892, David Knowles and Newell Forrest bought the rights to the Liberty Trail and Halfway House from Jim Liberty. They replaced Liberty’s Peak House with a three story structure which served as a hotel, obtained a new charter from the state, and spent $400 to improve the route. The views from the Peak House explain why it was so popular and why people were willing to pay $13.00 per week for lodging ($1,300 at today’s dollar value). In 1915, the Peak House was blown off the mountain. A cabin was constructed on the Peak House site in 1924 by the Chocorua Mountain Club. That cabin lasted until 1932 when winds blew the roof off. The Forest Service replaced it in 1934 with an enclosed cabin (Jim Liberty Cabin) with six bunk beds and large chains to hold the roof in place.
Maintenance: The Liberty Trail is in maintained by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
Directions to the Paugus Mill Rd trailhead: Turn on to Chocorua Lake Road off of Rt. 16, and cross over the Narrows Bridge between Chocorua Lake and Little Chocorua Lake. Follow this dirt road for 1.0 mile and take a left fork up a hill onto Fowlers Mill Road. Follow Fowlers Mill Road for 2.4 miles where you will see a sign on your right for the Liberty and Brook Trails. Turn right onto Paugus Mill Road and follow it for a mile to the end where you will find a parking lot and both trailheads. Please respect private property on the way to the parking area.
Trail distances & estimated hiking times from the Paugus Mill Rd trailhead:
- to Hammond Trail (2540′): 2.7 mi., 1650 ft., 2 hr. 10 min.
- to Jim Liberty Cabin (2980′): 3.3 mi., 2100 ft., 2 hr. 40 min.
- to Brook Trail (3200′): 3.6 mi., 2300 ft., 2 hr, 55 min.
- to Mt. Chocorua Summit (3490′) via the Brook Trail: 3.9 mi., 2600 ft., 3 hr. 15 min.
Trail Details: Leaving the NE side of the parking lot, the trail ascends at a steady, moderate grade along an old bridle path. The Durrell Brook is crossed at 1.1 miles, one third of the way to Jim Liberty Cabin. The Hammond Trail enters to the right 2.7 miles. The Liberty Trail continues to Jim Liberty Cabin at 3.3 miles. The Liberty Trail meets the Brook Trail on a ledge at 3.6 miles. Continue on the Brook Trail another .2 miles to the summit of Mt. Chocorua. (The Beeline enters 10 yards from the Liberty and Brook Trail junction.) The summit of Mt. Chocorua is .2-mile father via the Brook Trail.
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