The Legend of Chocorua
As you drive north on Route 16 in New Hampshire approaching the town of Albany you may find yourself distracted by the scenery. Peering through the trees guiding you on is Mount Chocorua. At 3,475 feet with a bare summit it’s hard not to have your attention drawn to the peak. Every year thousands of people hike to its summit to enjoy 360degree views. What many of those hikers and onlookers don’t know is that the mountain and surrounding area were cursed by its namesake Chief Chocorua.
There are a few versions of the legend out there but this is the one I have heard and read most often. While many of his fellow Native Americans took off to avoid conflict with the white man, Chief Chocorua held his ground. He believed the land and mountains belonged to him and his people. After some time he befriended a settler by the name of Cornelius Campbell. When it came time for Chief Chocorua to head north to join in on a powwow for some reason he left his son behind in the care of the Campbell family. Upon his return from the powwow Chocorua found his son had died. Apparently, his son came across and ate some poison that was meant for problematic wild animals in the area. Thinking his son was murdered, Chocorua sought out revenge. While Cornelius was not around Chief Chocorua killed the rest of the Campbell family. Now it was Cornelius’ turn for revenge. He chased the Native American Chief up the nearest mountain. On reaching the peak of the mountain Chief Chocorua shouted out cursing the local settlers before jumping to his death.
Not being a local settler I decided it would be safe for me to hike. There are numerous trails that lead up to the bald summit but dad, Erica, and I opted to go Champney Falls from the Kancamagus Highway. About a mile and a half in, we took the path that leads right by the falls. I was impressed by the gap that had been created through which the water was following. The water was not rushing today but I could imagine what it must have been like as Hurricane Irene dumped her water on the area. I am sure it was a magnificent yet terrifying sight.
Due to a not so favorable forecast the trails were not crowded for us. In fact we had the summit all to ourselves. Our views were limited as we spent most of the time in the clouds. A few times they parted and we could see the valley below. It was also very windy on the summit so we only stayed briefly before seeking a more sheltered location for lunch. A chipmunk entertained us for a while during our lunch break, but the real animal highlight was all of the frogs and toads we came across along the trail. On our return trip we did encounter more people heading up since it appeared the rain would hold off for a bit longer. Even if you don’t want to hike all of the way to the summit you should think about at least making the trip to Champney Falls to enjoy the beautiful scenery.