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Mount Passaconaway

Summit of Mount Passaconaway

The weather was perfect today for my ascent of Mount Passaconaway (4,043 ft) in the Sandwich Range of the White Mountains, with morning temperatures in the low 40’s, climbing to the low 70’s by late afternoon, under mostly sunny skies.

This was the 46th 4,000 footer I’ve climbed on the White Mountain 4,000 footer list. Two more to go and I’ll be done. I’m thinking about doing the Trailwrights 72 next, which is much harder.

I started my hike at the Oliverian Brook Trail parking lot off the Kancamagus Highway and followed that trail up to the Passaconaway Cuttoff. The stealth camping along the Oliverian Brook Trail is fantastic, and I’m going to have to get back here sometime. I’m surprised the rangers don’t bust the people who camp right next to the brook, which is against the forest rules, but there are plenty of legal sites 200 feet away in the surrounding woods.

Passaconaway is Steep - 30 degree slope

A 30 degree grade

The first 2 miles of trail up the Oliverian are easy hiking, but the trail gets a lot steeper on the Cutoff and Square Ledge trails, climbing about 2,200 feet in 3 miles. On the way down, I took a clinometer reading and found that the slope up to the summit is 30 degrees.

Views from the top were magnificent today. The Sandwich Range has really grown on me this year.

The Tripyramids

The Tripyramids

Paugus and Chocorua

Mounts Paugus and Chocorua (rear)

Mt Whiteface

Mt Whiteface

At the top, I hung out for while in the sun with some other hikers, before looping around the summit and heading east along the Square Ledge trail. But before I did that, I took a 1/2 mile detour down Dicey Mills Trail to the Rollins Trail, and back.

Back to the Square Ledge Trail, I hiked 2.5 miles east past Square Ledge, which is a huge cliff, descending very steeping to the Square Ledge Branch Trail and the Oliverian Brook Trail and north to my car.

If you want to really challenge yourself, hike the Square Ledge Trail up to Passaconnaway. It is psycho-vertical.

Total hike distance was 12.5 miles in 8 hours with about 2,500 ft of ascent.


  1. hi Phillip,

    how far up the trail would you say the stealth camping sites are?? I wanted to hike this an an overnighter

    thanks and cheers


  2. The best (quietist) ones are on the Oliverian brook trail after the Passaconaway cutoff. You can also camp lower down, but it's only two miles into this spot. You can pretty much go anywhere if you're willing to carry 3 liters of extra water. There is a camp site on the back of passaconnaway at the top of the Dicey Mills trail called Camp Rich. Surprised me, because it's not on my white mountain map. There's water up there too. Remember to observe the park rules and try to pick a durable surface when stealthing (ie. don't lie on plants).

  3. Camp Rich — that brings back memories. There used to be a small log shelter at that location. Camp Shehadi and Camp Heermance were similar log structures. I know they've all been removed, but I believe that Camp Rich was converted to a hardened camping area…

  4. John – Check out this WODC page about the old Camps – Photos and all.

  5. Philip, I was up there yesterday! A terrific walk up from Ferncroft, over Whiteface, then on to Passaconoway before looping back out. A glorious day's walk, but hot, hot, hot, an pretty hazy. I'm surprised it was cool today. On the way out, met three walkers and a dog planning to spend the night at Camp Rich.

    The WOC takes great care of its trails.

    Like your fleece!

  6. I wondered if anyone would notice the fleece!

    I did this hike last Saturday – glad you had cool weather too. Whiteface and Passaconaway are both magnificent peaks and I envy you getting to do them together. I think I'm going to tramp around in the Sandwich wilderness a bunch this winter and do some of the lesser peaks off Ferncroft. That seems like a nice network of trails. I'm glad you're getting up to the Whites! Cool weather ahead, I hope.

  7. I might have to go do this this weekend. I'm intrigued and frightened by "psycho-vertical."

  8. Thank you for the link — the camps were in better condition when I last saw them. Of course, it was in 1976, on an AMC trip to Whiteface. We camped around Camp Heermance…

  9. Leanna, it's not a super hard hike from the Kanc side, but my quads were sore the next day. The psychovertical is a reference to a book by a wacky climber named Andy Kirkpatrick who published a book by that name. The Square Ledge Trail, if you do it, is very steep, and I bet would be very challenging in winter with ice axes and crampons. It's a steep scramble up and I did need to do some back climbing/fancy footwork to get down it. Have fun. I'll be on Canon this weekend.

  10. Nice writeup, I'm planning to do this with some friends this weekend.

  11. You're lucky for having been able to climb that mountain and the weather is in favor of you. The pictures of those mountains look very peaceful. Nice post!

  12. I love your pics, as an ultra-lighter, what camera do you bring with you on your hikes?

  13. I think the polarizing lens help the lumix out a lot.

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