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The Direct Route to Mount Monadnock

What to Bring

Hiking shoes
  Sunglasses
Backpack   Swiss army knife
Trekking poles   Emergency blanket
Hat   Insect repellent
First aid kit   Water
Sunscreen   Food
Flashlight   Snacks
Watch   Weatherproof jacket
 

Specs

  Directions
 
From Boston, take Route 2 West
At exit 24, take Route 140 north
In Winchendon, take Route 202 north on
your right
In Jaffrey, take Route 124 west left at the traffic light
Follow the sign on your right to the Park
The parking lot is a few miles away, at the end of the road
  Good to know in advance
 
Toilets available at the parking lot

Map available at the gatehouse

Rangers on duty with weather forecasts at the cabin facing the parking lot
Monadnock State Park: PO Box 181,
Jaffrey, NH 03452-0181, 603 532 8862
  Etiquette
 
Do not walk of edge of trail or parallel to it to avoid puddles – it dramatically increases
erosion
Do not trample plants
Stay on trails
Carry your trash back with you
No pets allowed in the Park
 
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The Direct Route to Mount Monadnock
 
 

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 4/5
  Time from Boston: 2 1/2 hours
  Duration: Full day
  Cost:

$3 per person

  Main activity:

Hiking

 
 
 
 
Considering it is relatively close to Boston, we believe Mount Monadnock offers the best trek opportunities in New England—summits in the White Mountains are farther away, and require longer climbs before emerging above timberline. On the contrary, climbing the Monadnock, you will quickly leave the woods to be faced with steep rocks, hike in a desert-like environment, where only a few twisted trees fight the wind and cold, and have the possibility to walk along the ridge for a while, with nothing but air on both sides. Overall, there are 40 miles of hiking trails across the Monadnock State Park.

This trek follows the trade route up to the Monadnock that uses the White Dot Trail. You can meet quite a few people on sunny summer days there, but the crowds are unlikely to diminish the experience: Mount Monadnock is in a league in itself, where you can get access to a rocky, alpine environment and wonderful vistas with only a reasonable effort.

From the parking lot, follow the main trail up to the Visitor Center. From there, follow the Spruce Link for 0.3 mi, and take the White Dot Trail on your right. The trail will lead you up to the summit. Do not get discouraged by the initial climb, which sometimes looks as if you had to climb steep, rocky stairs. The trail will quickly level and you will be served with wonderful views on the countryside, and with many opportunities to stop and rest on the rocks.

When you emerge above timberline, the trail can be harder to follow. Arriving at a mark, be careful to spot the next blaze on the rocks before you proceed, or you may get lost. The trail can be steep in places.

From the summit, hike back the way you came down to the parking lot.

Allow at least 4 hours to make the Direct Route, and more if you are walking slowly and plan to stop at the summit for a while.

If you would prefer a longer but harder hike that follows a less crowded route and leads you along the mountain ridge, go for our Big One at Mount Monadnock.

Remember that weather can be nasty at the summit while perfectly fine at the parking lot. We recently had our map literally shredded by rain and wind after 20 minutes on top of the mountain. Always check the weather before leaving, and be prepared to turn back if you feel cold or uncomfortable. Rocks can be slippery in rainy weather along the whole route—be extremely cautious when ascending and descending both in open spaces and in the woods. Finally, be aware that accidents often happen on the way back, when fatigue kicks in. Always stay focused on what you're doing, and stop frequently to rest if you feel tired.

Finally, never leave without the map handed out by the Ranger at the gatehouse. If you are not comfortable reading a map, attend an orienteering class.