The plan today was to climb Mt Wonalancet (2780') and then Hibbard Mtn (2940'). Internet sources state that Hibbard has a great view, but the view on Wonalancet is not nearly as good. These two mountains are south and east of two massive 4000 foot peaks: Passaconaway, which I've climbed, and Whiteface, which I haven't yet climbed. When I started my hike at 10:44 AM there were six other cars in the Ferncroft parking area, but I never saw another hiker all day, which is apparently typical for the Wonalancet Range trail. Weather predictions for today ranged from sunny to partly cloudy, but actually it was partly cloudy gradually becoming mostly cloudy. Most of the thick clouds were off to the south and it was actually pretty bright during midday. When I started it was 51 degrees but it gradually warmed up to about 64, very good for hiking a steep trail.
The trail goes up the side of Wonalancet. It rises steeply from Spring Brook, then levels off for an easy section. After that it goes through a long section of boulder fields which involve a lot of acrobatics to get through. Eventually it comes to a steep rocky section leading to a big cleft boulder which I called "The Hall of the Troll King". Not too far beyond that is a steep spur trail to the summit of Wonalancet. I missed this turn off because the sign was off to the side and the trail comes in, not at a right angle, but more from behind you, so that it isn't visible if you aren't expecting it. The trail directly to Hibbard, without going to Wonalancet, is called "The Short Cut" and it has the same faint faded blue blazes as the main trail.
I realized that I had missed the turn off but I wasn't concerned because the best views were on Hibbard Mtn anyway. At about 1:00 PM I reached the Hibbard lookout and was very impressed. You could see the pretty Spring Brook valley, with some nice fall colors, and the Ossipee mountains behind it. Off to the right of them you could see parts of Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake. The double mountain prominent in the distance was probably Gunstock. Off to the right of that, and much closer, you could see Wonalancet, and various mountains in the distance behind it. On the far right was a mountain that I think is Mt Israel, one I have climbed before. I had lunch and soaked up the pretty views. I saw a few chickadees.
After that I went on to the actual summit of Hibbard Mtn, which has an overgrown lookout where you can catch a glimpse of Whiteface and Passaconaway, as well as the peaks in between which are known as "The Sleepers" after a famous hiker named Kate Sleeper. I left the Hibbard summit at 1:48 and decided not to go to the top of Wonalancet today but to leave it for a future hike, since it would be preferable in my view to ascend the really steep approach instead of descending it.
Other things I saw today were pretty mushrooms which I think are thin maze flat polypores, and a view of Chocorua through the trees on the trail on the flank of Wonalancet. I was back at my car at 4:14 PM. The trail is about 5 miles round trip and about 2000 feet in elevation gain. It is really perfect for a moderate day hike and the lookout is just wonderful.