Located in a New Hampshire’s Monadnock State Park, Mount Monadnock is a Southern New Hampshire hike that’s relatively accessible for those living in the Greater Boston Area. When my brother came to visit Boston, we were long overdue for time outdoors together. With snow and rain projected in much of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, we opted for a local hike with awesome views!
Date Hiked: Sunday, April 10, 2022
Distance: 3.8 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 1,790 feet
Highest Elevation: Mount Monadnock summit (3,165 feet)
Route: Ascended via White Dot Trail, descended via White Cross Trail (very common)
Parking/TH: Parked at 169 Poole Road (elevation 1,375 feet) to access White Cross and White Dot trails. There is a $15 parking/day use fee at the trailhead and it’s recommended you reserve a spot online to guarantee parking (adds $1 transaction fee). This main HQ has multiple bathrooms, filtered water station, visitor information, and more!
Drive from Boston: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Weather/Conditions: Weather was mild below tree line, around 55 degrees and partly cloudy! The wind was rippin’ at the summit, so we were grateful for layers… and wishing for more TBH lol. Glad I brought gloves! No ice or snow on the trail, but a little muddy and slippery on rocks at parts. Trail is well marked.
Highlights: Seemingly missed the rain/snow in more northern New Hampshire by staying south! 360-degree views at the summit, though we didn’t stick around long because of the wind (thank you, New England Spring weather). Got to hike with my bro, which is always quality time.
According to NH State Parks’ website, “Monadnock State Park is located in and around the 3,165-ft. Mount Monadnock. The park is surrounded by thousands of acres of protected highlands. In 1987, Mount Monadnock was designated a National Natural Landmark. The park offers year-round recreational opportunities.” The name “Monadnock” is an Abenaki word thought to mean “mountain that stands alone,” with its exact meaning up for a bit of debate. Geologically speaking, a monoadnock is defined as below:
mo·nad·nock / məˈnadˌnäk, noun
1. an isolated hill or ridge or erosion-resistant rock rising above a peneplain.
The metamorphic rocks on Mount Monadnock are thought to be about 400 million years old, with signs of glaciation visible in glacial striae/scratches on bedrock as boulders were dragged along the base of the ice sheet (whaaaa, so cool). Mount Monadnock is the THIRD most frequently climbed mountain in the world, after Tai Shan in China and Mount Fuji in Japan. An estimated 100,000 people climb it every year. Most people choose to ascend 1,700 feet or more via the White Dot Trail, which begins at the State Park Headquarters and requires a $15 day use fee year round.
Important Note: Dogs and camping are NOT allowed on the trails of Mount Monadnock. There are campgrounds at Monadnock State Park at Gilson Pond or the Monadnock HQ.
I was stoked to have my brother in the Boston area. Nearly one year ago, he started his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine! While our goal and my intention was to meet him along his journey, my stress level was high/energy level was low through much of 2021 (thanks to chronic stress), so I wasn’t able to fulfill my promise. Nonetheless, Kenneth “Sweet Talker” is a source of much inspiration to me and we always have quality time together outdoors. Our last hike together was Mount Everett in Massachusetts, so we were long overdue for a hike together!
Kenneth is a pretty easy-going guy, so he was open to any hike, any weather, anywhere! (Speaking of… why is there anyhow, anywho, anywhere, but not anywhen, anywhy??) Love it. I chose Mount Monadnock in Southern New Hampshire because the weather in the White Mountains looked a little dicey.
The White Dot and White Cross trails are pretty easy to follow! Ascending the White Dot trail follows round, white paint spots from the Monadnock State Park Headquarters. There’s a bit of scrambling towards the top of trail and is a wee bit steep in the middle section. At 0.5 miles, the White Cross trail splits off to the left and runs parallel to the White Dot trail. The two trails merge again at 1.7 miles towards the summit. From this merge, it’s only 0.3 miles to the summit!
The summit is exposed, beautiful… and was windy AF. We were grateful for puffy jackets and finding rocks to shield a little of the wind, but we honestly didn’t spend much time at the summit in effort to get back to our comfortable car with heated seats (thank you, Subaru).
Kenneth and I experienced somewhat poor trail etiquette during our hike. People were not yielding to those traveling uphill and it was difficulty to pass people on the descent (why do I always have to Google if I should use “descent” or “decent”?! haaa!). Of course, the decent people knew how to step aside for those with a faster descent speed (see what I did?). It’s always a bit awkward to ask them to get out of the way because, hey, we’re all out there trying to enjoy our time!
When descending, we chose the White Cross Trail because it is less steep in the middle section, though it is only 0.1 mile longer than the White Dot trail! Nothing wild to report here because, as I said, the trails are pretty easy to follow! From the summit of Mount Monadnock, just head southeast and follow rocks painted with arrows “To State Park HQ”!
- Learn more about New Hampshire State Parks
- Purchase the AMC Southern New Hampshire Trail Guide (includes map!), which has an entire section on Mount Monadnock region of New Hampshire
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Post Updated: April 2022