|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Hancock Notch, NH|
||Hancock Notch Trail, Sawyer River Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, August 7, 2022|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Small parking area at Sawyer River Trailhead has room for 4 vehicles parked perpendicularly to the Kanc - all were taken when I arrived, so I parked parallel to the Kanc just off the shoulder - there's room for a few cars to do that. Hancock Trailhead was busy but not quite full. |
||Dry Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||The two final crossings of Sawyer River on Hancock Notch Trail (i.e. the ones the WMG says can be difficult in high water) were fairly straightforward rock hops on exposed rocks. Take a few moments to find a route - there are several available - and the actual hopping isn't bad. The crossing of Swift River on Sawyer River Trail close to the Kanc was also fairly straightforward - the soles of my boots got a little wet, but my actual feet were dry (though not for long after that thanks to the rain - see below). Water levels are fairly low. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Several blowdowns on Hancock Notch Trail east of the junction with Cedar Brook Trail - none are especially difficult to get by. Several sections of Hancock Notch Trail through and east of the notch are wet, muddy, and/or use slippery rocks - some have drier bypasses through the woods, while others do not. All signs are in place. |
||Dogs would be fine here. |
||They were occasionally a pain, but they weren't swarming and overall weren't terrible. I suspect bugs would be horrible here in June. |
|Lost and Found:
||This was a fun, easy hike to still get some redlining in without gaining too much elevation. Hancock Notch Trail to the junction with Cedar Brook Trail is very easy. Past that junction, it narrows and gets somewhat rougher, but is still easy to follow. There are a few minor ups and downs in the approach to Hancock Notch, but the ascent isn't bad at all. The descent down the east side of Hancock Notch is interesting - it's never very steep at all, but it features narrow, rough sidehills, mudpits, and lots of very slippery rocks (some of which are in a stream). There were a couple of places where the trail wasn't obvious, but it generally continued in the same direction. Be careful for that one place the WMG describes where there are beaten paths to a campsite on the left side of a brook - the trail follows the brook for a short distance (this rock-hopping was easy) and then turns right off the brook. After the second crossing of Sawyer River, the trail gets much easier and mostly follows old roads with good footing (except for the washed-out areas descending alongside the tributary brook toward the third crossing) until the junction with Sawyer River Trail. The 5.1-mile section of the trail between Cedar Brook and Sawyer River trails really has a remote feeling to it, and I enjoyed it (though not quite enough to want to do again in the near future). It reminded be a little bit of Carrigain Notch Trail. It's also a good place for solitude - we didn't see anyone else on this stretch.|
Sawyer River Trail has to be one of the easiest trails out there. It's a snowmobile trail for a while, and then a XC-ski trail from there until the crossing of Swift River. It was flat and pretty smooth for almost that entire distance - very easy and quick walking, good for a hot day, and there were nice views of Green's Cliff from the bridge over Meadow Brook. As we were approaching the crossing of Swift River, it began sprinking, and it was moderately sprinkling as we crossed the river (which took some thought, and would be very difficult in high water, but was fairly straightforward today with waterproof boots). Maybe 60 seconds after we finished crossing the river, the skies opened up and it started pouring with rain. We booked it the remaining 0.3 miles back to the Kanc, but nonetheless got pretty well soaked.
This hike is about 9 1/2 miles, and thanks to the (mostly) easy terrain (with the exception of a few parts of Hancock Notch Trail through and just east of the notch), it took us about 5 1/2 hours to complete. Hikes like this are a good choice for a hot day where you don't want to do a lot of climbing, but still want to explore someplace new.
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.