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Hiking the Brook Path

Wonalancet Falls
Wonalancet Falls

The Brook Path is one of the most beautiful trails in the Sandwich Range and an excellent place to take a cool summer dip at one of the many swimming holes along its banks. Not to be confused with the Brook Trail which climbs Mount Chocorua, the Brook Path begins across NH 113a from the Cabin Trail trailhead. It’s listed under “Shorter Paths in the Ferncroft Area” in the White Mountain Guide and maintained by the Wonalancet Out Door Club (that’s really how they spell it).

Two miles in length, the Brook Path runs along the banks of the Wonalancet River. It’s a gentle hike through moist and verdant woods, and a hidden gem, untrodden by the peakbaggers who swarm nearby Whiteface and Passaconaway.

The day I hiked this trail, it was drizzling and cool. I paused frequently to admire the undercut pools and pour-overs on the brook, thinking about the trout that must inhabit it, and cursing myself for not bringing my rod along on my walk. I’ve always wanted to fly fish the Wonalancet, but never seem to give myself enough time to while away and afternoon when I can be hiking on the nearby trails.

Wonalancet River - The Brook
Wonalancet River – The Brook

The Brook Path does not intersect any other trails so mine was an in and out hike. Along the way back, I met a man and his Brittany Spaniel, who bounded around me in excitement. We spoke briefly, asking me whether I was a “Tamforth Man,” a local resident, in other words.He admitted that he wasn’t either, having just moved to the area in the past year, a retiree from Massachusetts.

We chatted about this and chat for a spell. He asked “where I was going with that big backpack,” referring to the pack I carry on late autumn hikes full of oh-crap gear when I hike alone. I mumbled my goodbyes and headed back upriver, him down with his excitable dog.

Recommended Guidebooks and Maps:

Written 2016.

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  1. Ah, the Brook Path.

    When we lived in Tamworth for half a year, this trail was one of our regular visits for days we weren’t hiking. It is such a pleasant walk in the woods. In winter it is beautiful, but in the summer and autumn it is no less than enchanting by that clean and at times churning water.

    Because of it’s brevity and ease, it is a walk where it is meant to linger. On hot days the wading and swimming is some of the best in the White Mountains.

    Good job focusing on this gem.

    • I did a lot of hiking in that part of the forest this autumn. That whole area from Whiteface to Chocorua is just fantastic hiking. Not too hard, but so gorgeous. The Brook Path is a standout though. I think my wife will love the swimming holes and I reckon the fishing is pretty sweet.

  2. Being a re-located New Englander who used to fly fish such little brooks as a kid, would it be impertinent to ask for more photos of the trouty water? :-)

  3. It’s nice that you include these short yet scenic hike/walks. If one considers that many older people cannot do long hikes for one reason or another, these short hikes are the ticket for getting them outdoors in nature, yet not too far away from the road. Very thoughtful.

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