Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Shrub leaves at a lookout point on Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster)

Mount Monadnock and Bald Rock

Mountains:  Mt. Monadnock (Grand Monadnock) (3165'), Bald Rock (Kiasticuticus Peak) (2640')
Trails:  Parker Trail, Cliff Walk, Smith Connecting Link, White Cross Trail, White Dot Trail, Pumpelly Trail, Cascade Link
Region:  NH - Southwest  
Monadnock State Park
Location:  Jaffrey, NH
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summits, views, slabs, rock scrambles, alpine zone, loop hike
Distance:  6.9 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2000 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 6:27   Typical: 5:00  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 9:00   Typical: 8:00  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  11/12/2007 (Monday)  
Last Updated:  01/06/2016  
Weather:  Overcast, breezy, cold; 22 degrees at the base of the mountain
Author:  Webmaster

Route Summary   

This hike makes a wide loop up to Bald Rock and Mount Monadnock, from which there are 360-degree views encompassing all six of the New England states. It then descends the other side of Monadnock on a long open ridge before popping back into the woods for the final segment of the loop.

  • Start on Parker Trail which is marked by yellow metal rectangles.
  • After 1.1 miles on Parker Trail, turn right onto Cliff Walk.
  • Follow Cliff Walk for 1.5 miles to its end at Bald Rock (Kiasticuticus Peak). Cliff Walk's blazes consist of the letter "C" painted in white on rocks.
  • Continue down the other side of Bald Rock on Smith Connecting Link. This path uses the letter "S" painted in yellow for its blazes.
  • About 0.4 mile from Bald Rock, turn left onto White Cross Trail.
  • After just 0.1 mile, bear left/straight to follow White Dot Trail.
  • Follow White Dot Trail, and its white painted dots, for 0.3 mile to Mount Monadnock's summit.
  • Descend the summit via Pumpelly Trail (marked by cairns but no sign).
  • Follow Pumpelly Trail for 1.4 miles, then turn right onto Cascade Link.
  • Follow Cascade Link for 1.4 miles until meeting up with White Dot Trail. Cascade Link is marked by painted yellow dots and cairns in its upper segment and later by yellow metal circles.
  • Turn left to follow White Dot Trail (blazed with white dots) 0.7 mile back to the parking area.

Accordion-style fan boulder along Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster)


Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
     Split
Time
     Total
Time
    
Parker Trailhead (1310') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Jct. Parker Trail/Lost Farm Trail (1510') 0.6 0.6 0:22 0:22
Jct. Parker Trail/Cliff Walk 0.5 1.1 0:23 0:45
Jct. Cliff Walk/Hello Rock Trail 0.8 1.9 0:48 1:33
Jct. Cliff Walk/Point Surprise Trail 0.15 2.05 0:11 1:44
Jct. Cliff Walk/Lost Farm Trail (2300') 0.25 2.3 0:15 1:59
Jct. Cliff Walk/Thoreau Trail 0.0 2.3 0:03 2:02
Jct. Cliff Walk/Do Drop Trail 0.1 2.4 0:07 2:09
Jct. Cliff Walk/Noble Trail 0.05 2.45 0:06 2:15
Bald Rock (Kiasticuticus Peak) (2640') 0.15 2.6 0:11 2:26
Jct. Smith Connecting Link/Amphitheater Trail 0.2 2.8 0:10 2:36
Jct. Smith Connecting Link/White Cross Trail 0.2 3.0 0:17 2:53
Jct. White Cross Trail/White Dot Trail (2850') 0.1 3.1 0:03 2:56
Mt. Monadnock summit (Grand Monadnock) (3165') 0.3 3.4 0:24 3:20
Jct. Pumpelly Trail/Red Spot Trail (2950') 0.4 3.8 0:20 3:40
Jct. Pumpelly Trail/Spellman Trail (2850') 0.3 4.1 0:17 3:57
Jct. Pumpelly Trail/Cascade Link (2700') 0.7 4.8 0:32 4:29
Jct. Cascade Link/Spellman Trail (2150') 0.7 5.5 0:46 5:15
Jct. Cascade Link/Red Spot Trail (2150') 0.2 5.7 0:07 5:22
Jct. Cascade Link/Birchtoft Trail (2150') 0.4 6.1 0:03 5:25
Jct. Cascade Link/Harling Trail (1950') 0.0 6.1 0:25 5:50
Jct. Cascade Link/White Dot Trail (Falcon Spring) (1850') 0.1 6.2 0:05 5:55
White Dot Trailhead (1380') 0.7 6.9 0:32 6:27

bold = places where you need to follow a different trail

Stay overnight in a tipi - Tipi Lodging

 




 

Map of hike route on Mt. Monadnock. (map courtesy of Monadnock State Park)


Trail Guide   

I climbed the popular Mount Monadnock on a cold and overcast day. I made a loop hike, avoiding the more direct routes, and taking interesting and scenic routes both up and down. Since there was such a heavy cloud cover, I missed seeing the "100-mile views" that the mountain is famous for, but I did enjoy many local views of nearby bodies of water and small mountains.

The overall elevation gain of this climb was moderate but since there were so many steep sections with rock scrambles, I've rated this hike as Moderate/Difficult. Overall there were lots of easy sections interspersed with near-vertical short climbs requiring the use of both hands and feet.

Surprisingly, on this reputedly second most climbed mountain in the world, I had the trails almost entirely to myself with the exception of the last 0.4 mile leading up to the summit. For the first two miles of the hike I didn't see another soul. Over the next mile I saw only a handful of people. Then getting onto the more popular trails for the last 0.4-mile trek up to the summit there was a steady stream of people descending. On the other side of the mountain for my descent route, I saw no one else at all. So don't let the thought of crowds discourage you from tackling this interesting mountain. Aside from the summit, it's possible to enjoy a pleasant hike with low foot traffic.

Since this is a long trip report, I've divided it into two sections:

Ascent of Mount Monadnock    |    Descent of Mount Monadnock


Ascent of Mount Monadnock   

From the parking area I first followed the signs to the toilets which are near the trailhead for the popular, direct-route of the White Dot Trail. Then I backtracked, following a sign I saw for the Parker Trail and commenced hiking at about 10 a.m.

Hollowed out tree on Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster) The Parker Trail started out level and went by Poole Reservoir which was fenced in and covered by a skim of ice. The path crossed the outlet of the reservoir on a wooden bridge with a small waterfall from a dam upstream and a pretty brook downstream.

The trail passed through mature woods with a thick layer of leaves carpeting the forest floor. As is their habit, there were lots of beech and oak trees still holding onto their rusty, orangey, or brown-colored foliage.

The wide, gently ascending path was blazed with yellow metal rectangles attached to the tree trunks. There were lots of stone walls either crossing this trail or running alongside it.

At a place where the trail curved to the left, I noted a "see-through" tree on the inside corner. After rounding the bend I looked back to see that the trunk was all hollowed out with one whole vertical strip completely lacking any bole at all.

Farther along I stopped to watch a hairy woodpecker search for insects. After that I came upon a bare, writhing, partially hollowed tree... a perfect setting for telling ghost stories. Several of its branches had already fallen and littered the ground beneath. There were many of interesting tree silhouettes along this trail.

There was a long section of trail that was bordered by a stone wall. I passed by the junction with Lost Farm Trail, staying straight on Parker Trail. About 0.1 mile after that junction there was a brook crossing and the stone wall served as a bridge over the waterway. Nearby was a big boulder about fifteen feet high.

Partridgeberry along Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster) After 1.1 miles of walking, I came upon the signed junction for the Cliff Walk. This is a trail that first ascends, and then runs along one of Monadnock's ridges and is sporadically blazed with the letter "C" in white-paint. It's a good thing there was a sign there because with the heavy leaf cover the path was barely discernible. And this is where the hiking gets challenging.

I turned right to follow the trail that seemed to reveal its route to me step-by-step even though I often couldn't determine the track when looking ahead. It wound its way up past and between some interesting boulders, including one shaped like an open, accordion-style fan.

As it approached some ledges, the climbing became more challenging. There was a giant ladder aiding the ascent of one cliff. I had to use both hands and feet just to get to the base of the ladder. The ladder was so big and bulky with the rungs somewhat widely spaced that I felt like a little elf using a giant's stairway.

Ladder on Cliff Walk trail (photo by Webmaster) At the top the path was bordered by ledges on both sides. One ledge's large side was almost completely covered by brown lichen. The path hooked around to the left while climbing a bit more and then it broke out into a level, pretty stretch with an airy ridge-top feel to it.

But soon enough, as was the case with almost my entire trek, the easy section was interrupted by another steep ledge ascent. The Cliff Walk had very few trail markings. In some places the path was obvious, and others not very obvious at all. But usually when the route involved ledge climbing, there was a white painted "C" on the rocks to assure you that "yes, you really do have to climb this cliff".

I encountered "Hello Rock" 0.8 mile along the Cliff Walk. Before this point there were limited views through the bare trees but Hello Rock provides an unobstructed view. After a short descent from this outlook, I encountered a junction with the Hello Rock Trail.

I continued straight/right to stay on Cliff Walk and entered a beautiful tunnel of conifers with a needle-carpeted footway. This is pretty much a turning point where I leave the deciduous woods behind and alternate between conifer forest and rocky outlooks for the rest of the route to the summit.

Also at this point I started seeing strange elongated "bumps" in the rocks underfoot. This is sillimanite which is a crystal deposit within the schists. Since schist is a softer rock, it has eroded away leaving the harder sillimanite to stand out in relief.

I went by many trail junctions but ignored them all to stay on the Cliff Walk. There were several interesting boulders and ledges along the trail. The trail also went over several ledges, again requiring "four-wheel drive"–as one of my friends calls it (using two hands and two feet).

Cliff Walk shortly after the junction with Hello Rock Trail (photo by Webmaster) During many of these climbs I found very convenient hand-holds which made me wonder if at some point someone actually carved them into the rocks, letting time and the hands of thousands of hikers smooth them out so that they look and feel natural. There were several instances where they just seemed so perfectly placed and I've never had this feeling before while hiking other rocky courses.

The Cliff Walk passes over several outlooks. Many of the trees were bare but there was also the distinct orangey foliage still clinging to the beeches and oaks. And there were dark green conifers mixed into the view. Several bodies of water, a few open fields, and some homesteads filled out the landscape. And in spite of the haze, a whole string of nearby mountains were visible.

At times the trail skirted the edge of the ridge following a series of slabs which wound through low, dense conifers. Luckily the slabs were clearly marked here since the terrain was a little bit disorienting.

After that the trail resumed its alternation of easy and hard through woods with a few outlooks. At one point there was a tricky part during a slab/conifer section. I had the sense that the trail climbed up a slab to the left, but there was a white arrow (but not a "C") pointing to the right. Not seeing any blazes to the left, I followed the white arrow. It led to the right for a short ways then sort of seemed to come to a dead end. Then there was a narrow path leading to the left and climbing up to some slabs. From here I didn't see any trail markers but rather just a sea of conifers and slabs. I walked on the slabs over to the point overlooking the white arrow. From that point I was able to spot a "C" and get back on track.

After 1.5 miles on the Cliff Walk, I reached Bald Rock with views in every direction. This summit is also known as Kiasticuticus Peak and is marked by an engraved rock bearing that name. Even with the poor visibility, there were really nice views from this point. And of course to the north, the summit of Mount Monadnock towered 537 feet above me. Looking towards the bare summit put butterflies in my stomach. I could see people hiking on the open slabs but with no trees and nothing to hold onto, it looked like they should be tumbling off the mountain.

View from Bald Rock, including the rock engraved with "Kiasticuticus Peak" on the left (photo by Webmaster)


I continued my trek, at this point only 0.8 mile from reaching Mount Monadnock's summit. Cliff Walk ends at Bald Peak so on the north side of this point I followed the Smith Connecting Link which is marked by yellow paint blazes in the form of the letter "S".

The route first descended and passed by a small seep with lush green moss. And then, well of course, more rock scrambling up ledges. I had been struggling throughout the hike trying to find a good comfort level with the body heat generated by the tough climbs balanced against the cold air and the easy sections. I had also grown weary of trying to protect my camera while awkwardly clambering over ledges. Even though I looped it around my neck for those sections, I failed to always prevent it from swinging into the hard rocks. So at the foot of one of the rock scrambles I decided to regroup. I took some layers off and put on different ones and packed away the camera. And that combination finally resulted in hiking comfort.

So I climbed up the ledge and continued along the easy-to-follow Smith Connecting Link. It approached White Cross Trail uphill across some slabs. It's at this point that I finally saw a lot of people. Nearly everyone was descending by this time. I turned left upon meeting White Cross Trail and after 0.1 mile, I met up with the White Dot Trail which entered from the right. I went straight/left to follow the White Dot Trail to the summit. At this point I was only 0.3 mile from the peak and had 315 feet of elevation gain to tackle.

Cliff Walk trail (photo by Webmaster) Seep along Smith Connecting Link (photo by Webmaster)


White Dot Trail quickly broke out onto a wide-open slab and climbed steeply. I kept thinking I was just going to roll off the mountain. I was careful to follow the plentiful painted white dots on the rocks. They seemed to follow minor fault lines that resulted in better footing although it was still a very airy feeling with no trees and no ledges to grab onto. A stream of people was descending including kids that were actually running down the route. Crazy. I was glad I had planned to descend the other side of the peak because I didn't want to go back down this scary, airy slab. And I wouldn't attempt this in rainy or icy conditions. Although there were patches of ice on the Smith Connecting Link, this slab was blessedly free of that hazard.

I reached the summit at 3 p.m. There were views in every direction. The views were much like those from Bald Rock except of course the northerly direction wasn't blocked by a mountain. There was a geologic marker at the peak. The summit was an extensive jumble of rocks. There was one guy that was right behind me on the climb and a few minutes later a ranger appeared to make sure everyone made it off the peak. Other than that, everyone else that had been on the mountain was already headed back down.
 
Hairy woodpecker along Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster)


Cliff Walk trail (photo by Webmaster)

Lichen along Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster)

White Mountains elegant vacation rental
 
View of Mt. Monadnock peak from Bald Rock (photo by Webmaster)
 
  Descent of Mount Monadnock   

Since daylight was fading I didn't linger on the peak and instead looked around for a sign to Pumpelly Trail which would be my descent route. It seemed that I saw trail names painted in big white letters on rocks for all the trails except for the one I was seeking. Using my map (the park service gives you one upon entry), I determined where I thought the trail should be (Pumpelly descends off the summit nearly due east) but still didn't spot any trail signs or paint blazes.

Luckily the ranger was still there waiting for me to leave the summit. I asked him where Pumpelly started. It turns out Pumpelly is marked only by cairns, and furthermore, at the beginning, the cairns are few and often small. I had been looking right at the trail without seeing it. I did see one large cairn but nothing really beyond that. Well, it turns out the second cairn was partially hidden by a ridge and that cairn happened to look more like a lateral scattering of rocks rather than a trail marker. I was a little nervous about taking a hard-to-follow route with darkness falling so I asked the ranger if the trail was easier to follow once you got going. He said he thought it was easy to follow so I decided to go for it.

View from Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster) View from Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster)


It was nice having a ranger on the summit for questions but a little strange to know that someone was looking out for me. He really wanted me to take the popular route down and was concerned about my hiking at night even though I assured him I had a headlamp as well as a flashlight and did a lot of night hiking. Of course he had reason for concern because the problem with popular mountains is that they attract a lot of people that are na´ve about how strenuous and possibly dangerous a hike can be. The ranger asked me what kind of car I had so I knew someone would be waiting for me to make it back to the parking area. So I felt a little stress that I was worrying or inconveniencing someone and felt pressure to hurry up and finish before they sent out an unneeded rescue crew.

Ledges along Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster) Once pointed in the right direction, Pumpelly Trail was mostly easy to follow. There were just a couple spots that required a little bit of scouting around to spot the next cairn.

Pumpelly Trail was a delight: all open ledges and constant views including what appeared to be the long ridge of Pack Monadnock towards the east with its two peaks (North Pack and South Pack). Of course there were plenty of steep sections requiring the use of hands and feet but descending them was neither strenuous nor scary. Interspersed with these downhills were also some uphills... some traversable with just two feet and others necessitating the use of hands. And keeping in character with my trek today, there were also many easy stretches.

There were some icy spots but I was able to step around on rocks to avoid most of them. At one point I passed by a small, pretty, alpine meadow. I kept reaching for my camera but it was still packed away. I wanted to get as far as possible using natural daylight so I let the camera be.

I passed by the trail junctions for Red Spot Trail and Spellman Trail but kept going straight on Pumpelly. Every route on the mountain involves steepness but I bypassed the precipitous Red Spot and Spellman routes in favor of the relatively gentle Cascade Link.

I reached the junction with Cascade Link 1.4 miles from Mount Monadnock's peak. Here I turned right to follow Cascade Link which started out on ledges with limited views. It was marked by cairns and yellow painted dots on the slabs. After a while the trail changed to mostly woods and was easy to follow.

Soon after this darkness finally caught up with me. I stopped and stepped off the trail to a slab where I ate the other half of a sandwich (the first half was eaten on Bald Rock), replenished my water bladder, and broke out the headlamp and flashlight. I turned on the headlamp and kept the flashlight in my glove as a just-in-case backup.

I resumed the hike which had small sections requiring hands and feet to descend. Some of these rocks were also covered with ice but it wasn't too difficult to get past. The yellow paint dots seemed to have been done with reflective paint because they stood out quite well in the glow of my headlamp.

I bypassed several trail junctions on both the left and right and stayed mostly straight to remain on Cascade Link. The junction with Birchtoft Trail required veering right but this right-hand route was the more obvious path of the two.

View from Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster) View from Cliff Walk (photo by Webmaster)


There was a brook along the right-hand side of the path for a short ways. There were small cascades (a foot or less in height of the ones that I could see) providing a happy gurgling sound. Then I had to traverse the stream on rocks but it was an easy crossing.

The steep pitches mellowed and walking became easier. At one point the painted circles became yellow circular metal markers attached to the trees. These stood out like beacons in the dark - there's no way I could lose the trail with these bright spots guiding my way.

Finally, after 1.4 miles on Cascade Link, I reached the trail junction with White Dot Trail. Although I saw signs for all the other trail junctions, I didn't see one here; of course it's possible I missed it due to the darkness. I just had a sense that the trail turned left so I turned left and was soon surprised to see white painted dots on some rocks marking the White Dot Trail. So this was really a 4-way intersection with Cascade Link continuing a bit farther straight and White Dot Trail also going to the right, uphill. Luckily I saw what I needed to see (and was expecting the turn anyway) and turned left to follow White Dot Trail back to the parking area.

From here it was only 0.7 mile to the trailhead and the path was wide and the walking easy. I always find it pleasant and peaceful to be strolling through the woods at nighttime. I reached the parking area at 7 p.m. after hiking for nearly 2.5 hours in the dark. I was the only car remaining in the visitor parking lot and there was a ranger in the kiosk that waved to me. I hope he didn't have to stay late to make sure I made it off the mountain; hopefully he was there anyway to handle any late arrivals for the campground.
  Stone wall and boulder along Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster)

 


NH - Southwest

  Driving Directions   

Cliff Walk trail (photo by Webmaster) The trailhead for this hike to Mount Monadnock is located on Poole Road in Jaffrey, NH.

From Rt. 3 (Northbound):
  • Take Rt. 3 north to exit 7 in New Hampshire.
  • Follow Rt. 101A west to Rt. 101 west to Peterborough.
  • Turn left for Rt. 202 west to Jaffrey.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 124 west.
  • Follow Rt. 124 for 2.1 miles, then turn right onto Dublin Road.
  • Go 1.3 miles then turn left onto Poole Road.
  • Follow Poole Road for a mile. The road ends and there will be a state park kiosk and a parking area.

From I-93:
  • Take 101 west to Peterborough.
  • Turn left for Rt. 202 west to Jaffrey.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 124 west.
  • Follow Rt. 124 for 2.1 miles, then turn right onto Dublin Road.
  • Go 1.3 miles then turn left onto Poole Road.
  • Follow Poole Road for a mile. The road ends and there will be a state park kiosk and a parking area.

From I-95:
  • Follow Rt. 101 west to Peterborough.
  • Turn left for Rt. 202 west to Jaffrey.
  • Turn right onto Rt. 124 west.
  • Follow Rt. 124 for 2.1 miles, then turn right onto Dublin Road.
  • Go 1.3 miles then turn left onto Poole Road.
  • Follow Poole Road for a mile. The road ends and there will be a state park kiosk and a parking area.

From I-91 (Northbound):
  • Take Exit 28A and follow MA Rt. 10 to NH Rt. 119 east.
  • Follow Rt. 119 east to Rt. 202 east.
  • Follow Rt. 202 east to Jaffrey.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 124 west.
  • Follow Rt. 124 for 2.1 miles, then turn right onto Dublin Road.
  • Go 1.3 miles then turn left onto Poole Road.
  • Follow Poole Road for a mile. The road ends and there will be a state park kiosk and a parking area.

From I-91 (Southbound):
  • Take Exit 5 and turn left to follow Rt. 103 east for a short distance until it bumps into Rt. 5.
  • Turn right to follow Rt. 5 south for about half a mile.
  • Bear left to get to Rt. 12. You will go down a small hill, then turn left through a narrow pass beneath a railroad bridge. Follow this road to its end, then turn right to get on Rt. 12 south.
  • Follow Rt. 12 south and then Rt. 12 and Rt. 9 south until reaching Rt. 101.
  • Follow Rt. 101 east to Peterborough.
  • Turn right for Rt. 202 west to Jaffrey.
  • Turn right onto 124 west.
  • Follow Rt. 124 for 2.1 miles, then turn right onto Dublin Road.
  • Go 1.3 miles then turn left onto Poole Road.
  • Follow Poole Road for a mile. The road ends and there will be a state park kiosk and a parking area.

Facilities   

The following facilities are located at the base of the mountain near the parking area:
  • bathrooms
  • visitor center
  • campground

Other Notes   

An entrance fee is charged in season. Admission includes a nice 8.5" x 11" trail map depicting all the hiking trails on the mountain as well as showing contour lines.

For more information on entrance fees please refer to the New Hampshire State Parks Fees page.

Rates: (Subject to change.)
  • $5 for adults
  • $2 for children ages 6-11
  • Children ages 5 and under and NH residents age 65 and over are admitted free.
 
 
Long stone wall bordering Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster) Cliff Walk trail (photo by Webmaster) Cliff Walk trail shortly above the ladder (photo by Webmaster)
 
  Protecting Monadnock State Park   

Hiking on the edges of trails, or parallel to them to avoid puddles, mud, or ice causes serious erosion problems. Plants are trampled, soil is compacted, and a way is opened for the uncontrolled flow of water down the trails during spring thaws and heavy rains. Deep eroded gullies are quickly cut into the trail detours and are nearly impossible to repair. During wet or icy conditions, be prepared to walk on ice, in puddles, and through mud in order to remain well within the bounds of established trails.

Monadnock is a carry in-carry out park. There are no trash cans on the mountain or the park grounds. All your trash must be carried out and taken with you. Orange peels, apple cores, and other materials considered "biodegradable" should not be left on the mountain. Animals don't eat them, and in the process of rotting, they smell and attract insects.

No pets, fires, or camping are allowed year-round on Mount Monadnock. Camping and fires are permitted only in the park campground.

About Monadnock State Park   

Preserved land on and surrounding Mount Monadnock consists of approximately 5,000 contiguous acres cooperatively administered and/or owned by the state, the town of Jaffrey, the Association to Protect Mount Monadnock, and The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF). The preserve is spread over parts of Jaffrey and Dublin in southwestern New Hampshire.

The 3,165-foot high Mount Monadnock is the centerpiece of the state park. The bald peak provides 100-mile views to all six New England states on a clear day. This is allegedly the second most climbed mountain in the world so be prepared to share the roomy summit with many others. The majority of hikers head up the White Dot or White Cross Trails. By avoiding these trails you can hike in relative solitude as well as enjoy many features of the mountain that would otherwise be missed.

There are 40 miles of maintained foot trails on the mountain. The summit is the southern end of the 49-mile Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway and the northern terminus of the 114-mile Monadnock-Metacomet Trail.

Approximately 12 miles of the trail system in the lower elevations offer ski touring for the experienced cross-country skier. These trails are ungroomed, and require a minimum of 16 inches of natural snow cover over the rolling and occasionally rocky terrain. The trails are considered intermediate, and skiers must bring their own equipment.

"Monadnock", which comes originally from the Abenacki Native American word for "mountain that stands alone", is now a standard geological term for any singular mountain that rises above the surrounding plain.

This area has a rich cultural history and a tradition of providing inspiration for the works of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, and Abbott Thayer. Thoreau even has a trail named after him and a couple view points bear the names of Thoreau and Emerson.

Into the Mountains, by Maggie Stier and Ron McAdow contains an interesting chapter dedicated to the history of Mount Monadnock dating back to 1677 and covering, among other topics, hiker hospitality services and literature and arts inspired by the peak. It also contains facts and trivia relating to the mountain as it is today. Did you know that from the summit on fall days at sunset, the mirrored surface of Boston's John Hancock tower appears as a column of fire? Or that Ken Peterson, who has climbed the mountain over 1,000 times holds the record for the fastest ascent (25 minutes)? This gem of a book covers 13 other peaks in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts.

The park headquarters, located at the end of Poole Road in Jaffrey, NH, encompasses many of the mountain's trailheads, a visitor center, bathrooms, and a campground. Trail information and maps are posted near the Visitor Center at the start of the White Dot Trail. The Monadnock Visitor Center offers interesting exhibits on various aspects of the park's history, ecology and trails.

There are many campsite options around the park. The Monadnock State Park Campground has flush toilets, running water, firewood, and a camp store located in the campground area. Showers are available.

The park is open year-round. The parking lot at the park headquarters is plowed for winter hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and campers (gear must be carried into the campground).

Office hours are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. from November to May; and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. from May to October. During the summer, a ranger is on duty until 9 p.m. (Subject to change.)

Monadnock State Park
PO Box 181
116 Poole Road
Jaffrey, NH 03452
603.532.8862

About Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway   

The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway is a 49-mile hiking trail that runs between Mount Monadnock and Mount Sunapee. It is located in southwestern New Hampshire and traverses mostly rolling hills and ridges that divide the Connecticut and Merrimack River drainages.

The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway route was laid out in 1921 by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The trail runs through three New Hampshire state parks, and over 80 private land owners voluntarily agree to host the trail, and in some cases, campsites on their land.

A few favorite dayhikes on the Greenway are climbing Mount Monadnock, hiking through the Andorra forest at Pitcher Mountain, or moose watching in and around Pillsbury State Park. There are five campsites along the Greenway for those thru-hiking the entire trail; it normally takes 3–4 days to complete the full length.

Hiking trails should always be respected, but this is especially essential when private lands are involved because landowners can revoke trail-use privileges at any time. Leave no litter, pick up any litter you see left by others, stay on the trails, and don't light campfires (portable stoves are okay).

The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club (MSGTC) was formed in 1994. The club's mission is to continue trail maintenance efforts, support the volunteers and trail adopters, and promote awareness of this beautiful, remote, well-kept secret.

You can purchase the latest edition of The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Guide, (which includes a map) or just map from the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club.

The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway connects to the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail to the south which in turn connects to Metacomet and Mattabesett Trails in Connecticut further south. The linked trails collectively cover about 240 miles running from Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire south towards Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

About Metacomet-Monadnock Trail   

The Metacomet-Monadnock Trail starts in Rising Corner, Connecticut near the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line and runs north for 114 miles. It traverses Massachusetts, and dips up into New Hampshire, ending at the summit of Mount Monadnock.

The Metacomet-Monadnock Trail was originally laid out by the late Professor Walter M. Banfield of the University of Massachusetts starting in the late 1950s. It made use of abandoned farm roads and existing hiking routes as well as blazing new trails.

Metacomet-Monadnock Trail leading over Mount Grace (photo by Webmaster) Portions of the route on Mount Monadnock and the Holyoke and Mount Tom Ranges date back as far as the 18th century. Early trail building was supported by various summit resort hotels, popular in the 19th century. Such resorts once stood on Mount Holyoke, Mount Nonotuck, Mount Tom, and Mount Monadnock (at the Halfway House site). Most of them had burned down or had became defunct by the early 20th century and never recovered.

Despite being easily accessible and close to large population centers, the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail is remarkably rugged and scenic and passes through some of the prettiest landscapes in Western Massachusetts.

The route includes many areas of unique ecologic, historic, and geologic interest. Features include waterfalls, dramatic cliff faces, exposed mountain summits, woodlands, swamps, lakes, river flood plain, farmland, and historic sites.

The trail is blazed with white painted rectangles on trees and rocks and supplemental white, metal, diamond-shaped signs affixed to trees and poles at road crossings and other trail intersections.

Much of the trail is considered easy hiking, with sections of rugged and moderately difficult hiking along the Holyoke and Mount Tom Ranges and on Mount Monadnock.

There are several primitive lean-to's and campsites, and a few campsites with facilities along the trail, but camping is discouraged in many areas. Campfires are generally prohibited, except in established fire rings in state park campgrounds.

A complete guidebook with topographic maps is published by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

The Metacomet-Monadnock Trail connects to the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway to the north and to Metacomet and Mattabesett Trails in Connecticut to the south. The linked trails collectively cover about 240 miles running from Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire south towards Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

More Mount Monadnock Trail Reports   

  Twisted, spooky tree on Parker Trail (photo by Webmaster)

Cliff Walk, shortly above the giant ladder (photo by Webmaster)

White Mountains elegant vacation rental
 

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