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Recent Monadnock Hikes
Above: White Arrow Trail, March 3rd, 2014
Recent Hikes by Author:
My recent hikes will give you an idea of what kind of conditions may be on top of the mountain, in all seasons. For more information go to Trail News+Weather page.
My Recent Hikes:
Thursday, March 3rd, 2014: My car thermometer reads -2 F below zero in Peterborough and reads 2 F above zero at the 124 Old Toll Road trail head. I am the first car in at 8:00 AM. I hike up the Old Toll Road to White Arrow Trail. There is a fresh coating of snow on top of the 1'-2' of snow that is already on the mountain. I use micro spikes for traction on the slick trail. Above tree-line there are no fresh tracks in the snow. The sky is blue and the views are clear. The wind is light and the March sun is nice. Just below the summit the White Arrow Trail gets steep and I search for steps in the snow. I climb up to the top. From the summit Mount Washington is clearly visible in the far distance. The visibility is superb, clear and expansive in all directions. I descend via the White Arrow Trail. I slide down the steep section from the summit then hike down to tree-line to the Amphitheater trail to the Smith Connecting Link to Bald Rock. I head down the Cliff Walk to the Noble Trail. The Cliff Walk is well tramped but there is just one set of snow shoe tracks on the Noble Trail. The temperature has climbed into the mid 20's F. I head down to the Halfway House Site to the Old Toll Road. I take a side trip to Little Mountain before finishing my hike just before noon.
Above: Amphitheater Trail, January, 2014
Tuesday, February 4th, 2014: Today is forecast to be in the 30's in the valleys. After a cold January with sub-zero temperatures and biting cold winds on Mount Monadnock it is nice to hike on a seasonable winter day.
I hike up the Old Toll to the Cart Path. There is about 4 inches of snow on the ground. I take the Great Pasture Trail up Monte Rosa. The pathway is a little slick in spots but not very icy. At tree-line there is about a foot of snow. There is a substantial storm that is forecast for tomorrow that will make the snow pack much deeper. Above tree-line it is quite pleasant without much wind. The sun is shining through some high thin clouds. The views are a bit hazy but I actually can see the white cone of Mount Washington 105 miles away as the crow flies. The Mount Monadnock summit cone is a bit icy. I reach the top without ice traction but I am using trekking poles for stability. I take the Pumpelly Trail to the Red Spot to the Smith Connecting Link on a beautiful pleasant winter day with light winds. From Bald Rock I take the Cliff Walk to the Point Surprise Trail. I go to and enjoy all the vistas to be found along the way.
The previous weeks there hasn't been many tracks on the mountain. In fact, one cold January day in the wake of some fresh snow I was the only hiker who hiked the mountain from 124, Old Toll Road. There were only critter tracks and tracks up the White Dot Trail that day. There are a lot of tracks in the snow on the trails, even on the side trails today. It looks like people where hiking all over the mountain this past weekend.
From the Point Surprise Trail I reach the Old Halfway House Site that offers a nice view towards the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the southern Green Mountains of Vermont. There is a blend of clouds and brighter skies. I take the Old Toll Road down and then I take a side trip to Little Mountain. It is a nice time of winter now with longer days and it isn't as cold.
Above: Smith Summit Trail, December 30, 2013
Monday, December 30th, 2013: I take the icy Old Toll Road from Route 124. There is a coating of snow on the ground today after a thaw melted away much of the snow that was on the mountain. It is a nice seasonable day for hiking in early winter. High up the mountain looks white. I take the Fairy Spring Trail to Monte Rosa. The trees are iced up and pasted with snow. It looks like a winter wonderland. I head up the Smith Summit Trail. I take a side trip to Black Precipice then continue up the Smith Summit Trail. I am the first hiker and I hike on memory because the marked trail is buried under snow. On the summit it is windy with 25 mph west winds with gusts to 35 mph. The temp is 17 degrees on top which is typical for this time of year. In a sheltered spot I am getting hit with blowing snow and ice loosened by some other hikers on the summit. I hike down the Pumpelly Trail. There is a fresh 2-4 inches of snow above tree-line on Mount Monadnock. I take the Red Spot to the old Smith Connecting Link to Bald Rock. The spruce evergreen trees are whitened and glazed with ice illuminated by the sunlight heading to Bald Rock. I hike down the Cliff Walk Trail to the Parker Trail. The trails are quite icy today.
Below: Bald Rock December 30, 2013
Tuesday, December 31th, 2013 Beginning at 7:30 AM today I hike up the Old Toll Road to the White Arrow Trail. It is very icy today and I use micro spikes. It is a beautiful morning on the mountain. On top the wind is light, about 5-10 mph. The temp is 6 F degrees on the summit. I hike down the White Arrow to the Amphitheater to Smith Connecting Link to Bald Rock. I hike down the Cliff Walk and down the Noble Trail. It is very icy and the only way down the Noble Trail is with ice traction. There is a steep icy section of the trail where the terrain drops off both sides of the trail. I head down the Old Toll Road which is sanded and the road is still icy.
Above: Autumn color on What Cheer Point September 30, 2013
Tuesday, September 30th, 2013: It has been great stretch of weather with cool nights and pleasant sunny days. The color is starting to pop now. Today is some nice shorts and t-shirt hiking weather. I start my hike about noontime and I am looking forward to check out the color along the Cliff Walk. I hike up the Old Toll Road from route 124 to the Cliff Walk via Parker Trail. The autumn color is looking pretty good from all the different viewpoints such as the Matterhorn and What Cheer Point. I take the Smith Connecting Link to the Pumpelly Trail. I decide I want to check out the foliage from the Parker Trail so instead of going to the summit I take the Parker Trail to Town Line Peak and an unnamed crag near the Cascade Link. The colors in the valleys are brilliant. I then head back to the summit. The sky is clear and blue and the sun is getting low. I hike down the Smith Summit Trail to Monte Rosa. I see the sunset at Monte Rosa then I head down to the Old Toll Road. Daylight gets dim as I walk down the Old Toll Road to my car. It was a great day to hike an 8.5 mile hike.
Wednesday, July 24th, 2013: Starting my hike at 8:15 AM, I hike up the Old Toll Road to the Halfway House Site. It is mild and humid this morning. I break a good sweat as I reach the Halfway House Site. I decide to hike the Fairy Spring Trail. The start of the Fairy Spring Trail has been relocated starting at the Monte Rosa Trail right after crossing a bridge. There are some nice new rock steps starting up the Fairy Spring Trail. There is some water flowing at Fairy Spring. I hike up to Monte Rosa where I take a break. Atop Monte Rosa there is a nice breeze with sun and some clouds around. I have a good drink of water to replenish what I just sweated out. I take the Smith Summit Trail to the Amphitheater Trail. It is quite humid in the woods as I break a good sweat again even though the hiking is not strenuous. I take a short rest at tree-line on the White Arrow Trail then head up the White Arrow Trail to the summit. The views are hazy and cloudy. The views are scenic but not expansive as the distant views are cut off by clouds. After a snack of peanuts, m+m's and an apple I hike down the White Arrow Trail then head to Bald Rock. On Bald Rock the views to the southwest start to open up as I can see the hazy Green Mountains of Vermont. I also can see Mount Greylock coming out of the haze to the southwest. I head down the Noble Trail where there is a nice westerly headwind. The breeze also keeps the bugs away. I hike down the Old Toll Road reaching my car by 11:30AM.
Above: Point Surprise with hazy views May 22nd, 2013
Wednesday, May 22th, 2013: Today the weather is supposed be quiet between storms. There were storms last night and storms are forecast late this afternoon and evening. I hike up the Old Toll Road from 124 to the Fairy Spring Trail. When I stop I notice there are some mosquitoes and black flies out in the lower elevations but as long as I am moving up it isn't buggy. Fairy Spring after last nights storm is like a cascade today. It is a bit humid as I hike up and I break a light sweat hiking up to Monte Rosa. I only can see as far as Perkins Pond from Monte Rosa. It is 69 degrees and a bit muggy. The mountain is foggy just above. From here on a clear day you can see the Berkshires and southern Green Mountains. I take the Amphitheatre trail to Black Precipice. It is foggy, cool, and breezy. I put on sun block and continue to the White Arrow Trail. On the White Arrow Trail the purple Rhodora is in blossom above treeline. I reach the summit and it is a breezy 64 degrees. There are only about a dozen or so people on top. Fog obscures the famous expansive views that Mount Monadnock offers. I have peanuts, M+Ms and an apple. I take the Pumpelly Trail to Town Line Peak. It is foggy most of the way but it is nice and cool for hiking. There are views of Thorndike Pond and Gilson Pond from Town Line Peak. I head back and take the Smith Connecter to Bald Rock and the Cliff Walk down. As I reach the cliffs of the Cliff Walk the views open up with haze and a touch of fog. I notice grey clouds as I finish my hike. Two hikers are hiking up the Old Toll Road. The weather doesn't look good for them. It rains and storms within an hour after I leave.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013: Today the forecast is for mostly cloudy and partly sunny weather in southern New England.
I start at 124 Old Toll Road trail head at about 10:30 and I am the first in. There are no other tracks in the snow after a recent snowfall. I hike up the Old Toll Road to White Arrow Trail which is foggy most of the way. There is a fresh 3 inches of snow and the White Arrow Trail is icy so I put on ice traction. Above tree-line snow balls on my feet so I take off the ice traction. There are some tracks from yesterday when it was snowing. I am first up the mountain today via White Arrow Trail. It is foggy at tree-line but there is an opening in the clouds as I ascend higher up the mountain.
On top it looks quite wintry but it isn't that cold at 37 degrees F which is mild for near the summit. There is a break in the clouds and fog and the scene is spectacular and heavenly on the summit. The winds are at 15-20 mph out of the west which isn't bad for winter. There are tracks from the White Dot Trail. Larry Davis left his signature; "LOST," in the snow on the summit.
I hike down the untrodden Pumpelly Trail to Town Line Peak 1.1 miles away. It is foggy and there are snow drifts two feet deep in spots. There are some openings in the fog. I catch a glimpse of Dublin Lake, Thorndike Pond, and Eatan's Farm below from the ridge breaking out of the fog. I head back and take Smith Connecting Link to the Cliff Walk. The temp is 27 degrees F. I take Point Surprise Trail to the Old Toll Road. The views from the cliffs are shrouded in fog and I can only get a glimpse of the woods below the cliffs. I take a side trip to Little Mountain. I like this spot. I couldn't visit it last summer because there were wood ticks there. There is a little view of the woods below Little Mountain out of the fog. I had a nice 7.5 mile hike up into the clouds.
Above: Mount Monadnock November 28th, 2012
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012: Today there is about a 1/2 inch of snow on the ground as I hike up the Old Toll Road. My car thermometer read 31 degrees at the 124 trailhead. The sun reflecting off the snow feels nice. Some of snow is melting on the south facing slopes at the lowest elevations. I take the Fairy Spring Trail to Monte Rosa. The pathway is a bit slippery, at least there isn't a lot of ice on the trails yet. The skies are over cast with low grey clouds to the west. I take the Smith Summit to Amphitheatre trail to White Arrow Trail to summit. There is just enough snow to make it look like winter. It is in the afternoon and I am the first up the White Arrow Trail to summit. There are are no tracks in the snow. Around the summit there is an inch or two of snow in the whitened rocks. Low dark grey clouds are just above the summit. It is 28 degrees and the wind is about 20 mph. I can see a hazy Mount Kearsarge but the Green Mountains I saw lower on the mountain are blocked by clouds. I hike down the White Arrow Trail to Amphitheater to Smith Connecting Link to Inspiration Rock and Bald Rock. I take the Cliff Walk down to the Parker Trail going to all the viewpoints along the way.
Wednesday, September 5th, 2012: This morning rain is forecast to move out and there is a chance of an isolated storm in southern New England. The humidity is very high in the area.
The few weeks on weekdays following Labor Day can be some of the quietest days of the year on the mountain. Most people are getting back to work and school.
I get to the Old Toll Road, 124 trailhead at 10:30 AM and there is only one car in the lot! The weather forecast must be keeping people away.
I hike up the Old Toll Road and despite the humidity there is a nice breeze blowing from the WNW to keep me from sweating too much. It is overcast and the mountain is foggy above, as viewed from the Halfway House Site.
I take the Fairy Spring Trail and just below Fairy Spring there is a rare pretty white water cascade flowing down Fairy Brook. Usually in summer this is a trickle or dry. I pass Fairy Spring which is like a brook with water flowing all over it. I slip down on a steeep spot of slippery wet rock shortly above Fairy Spring. The trails are slippery with the recent rain and high humidity. I break a good sweat getting up Monte Rosa.
On Monte Rosa the breeze helps me cool off. With the high humidity I am slow to dry up. I can see some of the Green Mountains but most are in the clouds on this overcast grey day.
I take the Smith Summit up the mountain. I take a side trip to Black Precipice before continuing up the mountain. Above tree-line I can see Mount Ascutney, in Vermont and some of the other Green Mountains topped with overcast. I head to the summit where fog is blowing over.
On the summit there are views nearby but fog cuts off the distant view. The temperature is 63 degrees F with a refreshing 30 mph wind out of the WNW. I eat on the summit and there is not a single person on the summit at mid-day about 12:30 PM. I have the summit to myself on one of the most hiked mountains on earth. Looking down the cliffs to the south there is one hiker heading up the White Arrow Trail.
I head down the Pumpelly Trail and get below the fog and can see a cloud topped Mount Kearsarge. The distant view is good. I take the Red Spot Trail to the now abandoned Smith Connecting Link to Inspiration Rock and Bald Rock. I think I saw one hiker near the summit on the mountain. Sunshine starts to dapple the landscape as I head down the Smith Connecting Link. I take the Cliff Walk to the Point Surprise Trail. There is a blend of sun and clouds with a slight breeze. Point Surprise Trail is nice and shady with spruce evergreens and there is a nice WNW headwind to refresh me. I head down the Old Toll Road and reach my car, the only car in the lot at 3:00PM!
Today on a Wednesday after Labor Day I didn't pass a single hiker anywhere on the mountain and had the summit to myself!
To people reading this, today is not a typical day on Mount Monadnock. Today is an exceptionally quiet day on the mountain. Usually there are at least a few other hikers on side trails and large loud groups of kids will soon be returning to the White Dot and White Cross Trails from headquarters on weekdays. On weekends the mountain should still be busy.
Above: Ainsworth Seat , Mount Monadnock in the morning July 17, 2012
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012: Today is forecast to be 90-100 degrees F in the region so I get an early start. I take the Old Toll Road to the Halfway House Site and take the Hello Rock Trail to Hello Rock and the southeast view which is 1.5 miles. I hike up the Cliff Walk to Bald Rock going to many of the viewpoints along the way. The sun is low and the temp is cool at about 68 degrees. I take a side trip to Inspiration Rock and take the Amphitheater Trail to White Arrow Trail to summit which is a 3.6 mile hike up. I hike down to Monte Rosa. The haze cuts off the distant view and I can only see a little beyond Keene, NH. The view is scenic. There is a refreshing west wind so I decide to take the Great Pasture Trail to the Mossy Brook Trail to the Cart Path. It is a bit buggy in the woods on this warm humid morning. I hike down the Halfway House Trail which is a bit higher up and exposed to a light west wind which minimizes the bugs. It is overcast right now keeping it from getting too hot yet. I finish my hike about 11:00 AM. It was a very pleasant morning considering this afternooon will be one of the hottest this year.
Thursday, May 24th, 2012: It is a foggy morning as I hike up the Old Toll Road to White Arrow Trail. It is not hot but the humidity is very high as I break a good sweat by the time I reach tree-line. I cool off in an open spot watching the fog blow through the trees. I head up the White Arrow to summit and it is quite foggy. There are only about 5 other hikers at about 9:30 on top this morning. I decide to do a double hike as the conditions are forecast to improve later today. I head down the White Dot Trail. It is foggy on the Plateau which has spruce interspersed with open ledge. I hike down the Chute and I can see down to the base of the mountain where the fog slightly breaks. I reach headquarters and hike up the White Dot to Falcon Spring where I rehydrate and refill on water. I take Cascade Link to Spellman Trail. From headquarters the grades are easy then get very steep on the Spellman Trail. It is overcast which keeps the temperature cool. I still break a sweat climbing the Spellman Trail. It is steep with jumbled boulders and big ledge steps. It is a little like climbing and the views are nice from the ledges as the fog has cleared and it is overcast with a few dark clouds. I hike the Pumpelly Trail then go over Town Line Peak and back. A brief light shower blows in as I head for the summit for a second time. I take shelter behind the Sarcophogus and an umbrella. I have a snack and the shower ends. I head to the summit and there are about two dozen people on the summit which isn't bad considering how open the summit area is of Mount Monadnock. I descend via the Smith Summit trail to Monte Rosa which has a fine view of Perkins Pond, Gap Mt., Little Monadnock as well as the Berkshires in the distance. The southern Green Mtns. are poking out of the clouds. I back track a little ways up the Smith Summit taking the Amphitheatre Trail to the Smith Connecting Trail to Bald Rock and take the Cliff Walk down to the Parker Trail. I also go to all the fine viewpoints along the way. Back at Route 124 my GPS track for the day is 11.5 miles. It started out foggy and humid but ended up a nice nearly perfect overcast day for the second hike over the mountain.
Saturday, May 5th, 2012: Saturday night was a super full moon, which was larger than average, I wasn't working late and I am used to being up late and was off so I decided to do a full moon hike of Mount Monadnock. On Dublin Road I noticed someone biking from the mountain with a headlamp. I wondered if Larry Davis went up for the super full moon.
I hiked up via the White Dot Trail and I had a headlamp and two flashlights. In the dark on the rough trail which I don't usually do it took me about an hour. It was dark with dense fog leading up to the plateau and a few times I was looking which way the trail went. The moon started poking out as I was hiking the plateau. Once I got out of Paradise Valley it was bright enough that I could hike by moonlight.
I reached the summit at about 11:45PM and it was amazing. The moon came out with high wispy clouds and puffy clouds above. Surrounding the mountain was these clouds (actually low fog clouds) that looked like black storm clouds highlighted by the full moon light. I could see all around the mountain and a few houses in the nearby valleys. The sky, clouds and full moonlight was just a fantastic scene. If only I could have taken a picture or if I was a painter it would be a great work of art. A fog bank rolled in from the east after about 15 minutes all the views got obscured and the temp cooled. I chatted with some other hikers who arrived right at midnight. This is the first time I have been on top of Monadnock at midnight with a full moon. It was very foggy on descent. I wandered about 5 feet off the White Dot Trail in Paradise Valley and I was slipping all over the place on the slippery rock. I did make it safely down but I took my time because of the fog, darkness. There was a total of nine other hikers (two parties of four and one other hiker) on the White Dot so I wasn't alone either.
The White Dot Trail is a good trail to do a midnight hike, it is the super highway of hiking trails and is well marked by white dots and large cairns which help in the dark and in the fog.
It was an amazing scene on the summit. I am glad I had a nice fun first midnight hike of the mountain.
Sunday, March 18th, 2012: Today I head up the Old Toll Road and I can hear the chirping of the spring birds. I see no snow at all hiking up the road other than a few snow bank remnants along the side of the road. I hike up the Sidefoot to Noble to Bald Rock. The snow and ice is nearly gone. There is a lot of valley fog this morning. I take the Smith Connector to the Amphitheater to White Arrow Trail. There are only a few icy spots. I take the Smith Summit down to the Monte Rosa Trail. The views are scenic with the distant views cut off by clouds. The Smith Summit Trail below tree-line is wet and slippery with some icy spots. Spring has come very early on Mount Monadnock this year.
Monday, March 5th, 2012: Today I hike up the Old Toll Road to the Monte Rosa Trail up Monte Rosa. There is about 5 inches of dense snow on the mountain. I take the Smith Summit to Amphitheater to White Arrow to summit. It is a nice day on top with 100% sunshine and some haze. The Green Mountains are visible in the distance to the west and Boston is visible to the east. I hike down the White Arrow trail. Today is the first day in at least a month and a half that I haven't used ice traction. It is quite hazardous at tree-line. I committed myself because it isn't convenient to put on traction when you are surrounded by ice but I made it down safely. I probably should have used spikes for safety. I take the White Arrow to the Amphitheater trail to the Smith Summit trail to Inspiration Rock and Bald Rock. Without using traction, I also did slip and fall down twice. Trekking poles soften my fall. I take the Cliff Walk down to the Parker trail going to all the viewpoints and seats along the way. (6.3 mile hike). I don't recommend going without traction and I probably should have used traction (micro-spikes or crampons) due to the risks and hazards involved in hiking icy trails.
Monday, February 13th, 2012: Today I do a short early morning hike. The woods are dark as I leave my vehicle a little past 6:00 AM. I hike up the Old Toll Road and there is just a little patchy snow. I hike up to the Halfway House Site and it is daylight with snow flurries falling. Just beyond the Monte Rosa junction the trail gets very icy. I put on crampons and use trekking poles for stability to hike up the icy trail. A short distance above tree-line it gets less icy and more bare rock with patchy ice and snow. I take my crampons off to get to the summit. It is foggy with light snow. The temperature is 12 F degrees with a west wind of 40 mph. I hike back down and put my crampons back on above an icy gulley just above tree-line. I hike to Bald Rock to the Cliff Walk to the Noble Trail. There are faded views to the base of the mountain. Trail conditions are very icy. It is a novelty hiking on ice. Descending hiking on ice use a great deal of care and in some cases I hug trees on the way down. I take it slow and cautious descending steep icy spots. I hike out the Old Toll Road. I get back to my vehicle and I am still the only car parked at 9:00 AM. There is a sign at the entrance I didn't see in the dark. It warns hikers that the trails are exceptionally icy and to bring ice traction. It is an icy winter on the mountain trails.
Monadnock Trails to visit:
Monadnock Trails website: Author, Creator, and photos by Frederick Pitcher 2013
Use of the information on this site is the sole risk of the user. The author is not responsible for the trails or anyone's ability to follow them. In addition to the trails there are certain places in this website described that are off trail. Anyone exploring Monadnock does so at their own risk.
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