Hancock Loop Trail offers the perfect opportunity to summit two 4000 footers in the White Mountains in under 10 miles, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains! 

The Hancock trailhead is located at the infamous hairpin turn of the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains. 

The trail itself crosses the road and starts at 2000 feet of elevation on the Hancock Notch trail. It remains fairly flat for the first 3 miles of the trail. After 1.8 miles you will hit the first junction with the Cedar Brook Trail where you will take a left. Continue for another 0.7 miles up this trail until hitting another junction where you would bear right off of Cedar Brook Trail. In 1.1 miles you will reach the junction for the Hancock Loop trail, and that's where the elevation really gets started. We went left at the junction to summit Hancock first, and I highly recommend taking this route. The trail loses about 200 feet of elevation in 0.2 miles and then gains about 1500 feet of elevation over 0.5 miles to the summit. It is quite an intense climb with lots of large boulders and loose rocks, but then finally you reach the summit! And there is no view, but luckily there is an overlook about 0.1 miles away that gives a great view of  surrounding mountains. 

Hike another 1.4 miles to reach the summit of South Hancock mountains. The hike across the ridge line is fairly flat with small sections of up and down. The view from South Hancock is similar to Hancock, but luckily there is another overlook! After enjoying the view for a while, begin the steep descent down the 0.5 miles that finish off the Hancock Loop Trail. At the end of the loop, follow the trail back that you came up the 3.6 miles back to the parking lot. The hike took us about 5.5 hours total including about 45 minutes of breaks at the summits (we had a beautiful fall day)!

Pack List

  • 2L water per person
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Appropriate layers for the season
  • Poles (to steady yourself on the loose rock during the steep ascent)
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RT Distance 9.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 2220 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic

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