MOUNT HANCOCK & SOUTH HANCOCK | 4,420′ & 4,319′ | Strenuous
Located at the southern border of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, Mt. Hancock is characterized by a long ridge with several peaks, most importantly the North Peak (4,420′) and the South Peak (4,319′), also known as South Hancock. Although both peaks are wooded to the top, lookout ledges near the North Peak offer views of Mt. Osceola and the Sandwich Range to the south.
Note: for complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide.
Strenuous: With wooded and easy to follow trails, Mt. Hancock makes for a solid out-and-back day hike. Approach via the Hancock Notch Trail to Cedar Brook Trail, which accesses the Hancock Loop Trail. The loop up and over both major summits can be done in either direction.
Located within a morning’s drive from the AMC’s Highland Center and Shapleigh Bunkhouse, Mt. Hancock is a great choice for those looking for the challenge of hiking a 4,000 footer, but could do without the degree of exposure in the higher Presidentials.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Winter Hiking on Mt. Hancock
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Mount Hancock are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for “Instruction” in AMC’s activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping .
At one time Mt. Hancock was one of the most inaccessible mountains in the White Mountains, remote and trailless with slopes devastated by logging. Today Mt. Hancock is ascended routinely and flourishes with secondary growth.