Complete Guide to Hiking Mt. Monadnock

By Jill Gardiner , last updated January 13, 2012

If you haven’t already been hiking on New Hampshire’s Mt. Monadnock, one of the most climbed summits in the world, then it’s about time you went. Make Mt. Monadnock number one; plan a trip to hike it this year with this complete guide. With more than 125,000 people making the trek every year, it’s in the third most popular spot for hiking on the planet, just behind Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tai in China. So what makes Mt. Monadnock so special? This article will explain why.

There are over 40 miles of hiking trails on Mt. Monadnock, each offering very different experiences. One of the most popular routes to the summit is the White Dot Trail, which starts right at the state park headquarters and is a direct route to the summit. In between the start and the finish, you’ll find some steep inclines that require scrambling over large boulders. Running virtually parallel is the White Cross Trail, which offers less challenging inclines, although it’s also a longer trail. Many hikers choose to take the White Dot up and the White Cross down to enjoy the meandering, scenic views on the descent.
The Pumpelly Trail is the gentlest in terms of incline, but at 4 miles it’s also the toughest in terms of length. The Dublin Trail is just over 2 miles in length and has manageable inclines, making it a good choice for those with less stamina. The Red Spot Trail, accessible off of Pumpelly Trail, is another good option for those who wish to avoid steep inclines.
Other notable trails include the less travelled and scenic Cascade Link, which connects the White Dot Trail and Pumpelly Trail, and the Spellman Trail, which boasts the steepest incline in the park and is accessible from the Cascade Link.
The Marlboro Trail, another direct route to the summit, is another fairly private hike for such a popular mountain and is accessible from outside the park on South Shaker Farm Road.
Hiking Tips
Because large portions of the trails on Mt. Monadnock involve hiking over rocky surfaces, you’ll want to be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes with excellent traction and keep an eye out for damp or slippery rocks on the way. Bring sun block; once you get above the tree line there’s little protection from the sun, and carry an extra layer or two as the summit can be quite windy. Bring adequate water and food supplies, especially if you’re hiking one of the longer trails. You may want to pack a picnic lunch because once you reach the summit, you’ll want to stay awhile and enjoy the view of 6 states if the weather’s clear. Also, bring along $4.00 per person for parking and park usage fee. Pets are not allowed.
Other Activities
If you want to stay awhile and do more than just one hike, there are a couple of campgrounds that offer water and restrooms as well as a few remote campsites to which you can hike, but you’ll need to make reservations. Although many of the roads are inaccessible to vehicles once winter hits, the mountain is still open for winter hiking and camping. Cross country skiers will want to check out the Birchtoft trail, which offers ungroomed trails suitable for winter fun.
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