Monadnock Trail Map

Monadnock Mountain

We hike monadnock so often that it needs a page of its own.

Located in Jaffrey, NH, Mt. monadnock has been the most hiked mountain in the world since an autoroad was added to Mount Fuji in Japan. Elevation is 3165' and vertical rise is about 1800'. The White Dot trail is the most direct and popular route and is very rocky. Although we've done it in 2 hours, plan on 3 or 4 hours round trip.

Trip Reports

First Hike - 1997 July 12

Elleing and I took our first hike together here while we were still dating in the summer of '97. We both enjoyed it very much and we kept coming back more and more often.

Cliff Walk and Monte Rosa (3 peaks loop) - 2001 August 08

We hiked the Toll road, to the Cliff Walk trail, to Bald Rock, taking the upper part of the White Arrow trail to the summit. On the way down, we hiked to Monte Rosa on the Smith Summit trail, Fairy Spring to the Halfway House Site, and Old Halfway House trail to the bottom. This was one of our favorite hikes, lasting more than 4 hours. The route is longer and more interesting than the White Dot or the White Cross trails and was quite deserted. We only saw a few other hikers on our way up, even though the summit was swarming with people. We also saw a strange bug while on Monte Rosa. The pics is shown here. If you know what it is, let us know!

Point Surprise monadnock summit from Bald Rock Monte Rosa weathervane Ainsworth's seat Strange bug All Pics . . .

Marlboro Trail - 2003 May 04

We hiked the Marlboro trail with Ash, Jim, and Sam. Except for Ash, this was our first time on the trail. The parking lot is on a very bumpy, dirt road, but parking is free and I doubt it ever gets crowded at this trailhead. The marlboro trail rises 1850' to the 3166' summit and the climb is a bit more forgiving than the White Dot and White Cross but there's still quite a bit a slab walk. It was a very clear day and we could see downtown Boston, the Pru, and the Hancock from the summit.

group_on_ledge.jpg trail_break.jpg on_summit.jpg on_summit_2.jpg Summit Engraving Boston - Downtown, Hancock, and Pru. All Pics . . .

Dublin Trail - 2003 May 17

Dublin trail approached from the west side of monadnock and is probably the easiest ascent on the mountaion. Footing is very good and there are great views. The trail is less crowded than others, but parking is limited.

It was the first time up the Dublin Trail for all of us (Andy, Ash, Elleing, and me.) This is probably the easiest trail on monadnock. The elevation gain is 1700' which is about 100' smaller the the east side and 150' smaller than the Marlboro Trail. Also, the footing is much better and there are only a couple short scrambles up rocks. We were up in about 1:45' and down in about 1 hour. We had a 1/2h lunch on the south facing cliff. Weather was perfect but just a bit too much haze to see downtown Boston this week. The flies were starting to come out in force!

scenic_wetland.jpg summit_lunch.jpg All Pics . . .

Birchtoft-Spellman Loop - 2003 May 24

For our first ascent via Birchtoft we took Birchtoft, Cascade Link, Spellman, Pumpelly, summit, White Dot, Old Ski Path, Red Spot, Birchtoft. Our rt time was about 4:55 with about 20' on the summit. rt distance was about 7.3 miles with 2000' of elevation gain.

Despite the rain and sub-50 degree temps, Ash, Andy, Elleing, and I made it to monadnock again on Saturday, May 24th, 2003. It was a very late start because Elleing and I helped some friends move in the morning, so we arrived at the Birchtoft trailhead at about 3pm. We decided to take the Spellman trail from Birchtoft so we could hike the steepest section of trail on monadnock. Normally, this would be plenty of time, but when we reached the Cascade Link trail to cut over to Spellman, we realized we had already hiked at least 2.1 miles. Some sites have listed the Birchtoft route as 2.1 to 2.3 miles, but without including the additional trails needed to reach the summit. Fortunately, we were all still pretty energetic at this point and after a few brief threats on my physical well-being from Andy, we agreed to hike on to Spellman.


Spellman trail is claimed to have the steepest sections of trail on the mountain, a claim that would be tough to argue. There are a couple long stretches that require some four-limb action to get up the rocks safely. The fact that everything was wet didn't help matters, however this is a very scenic trail with a couple nice waterfalls. We'll certainly hike it again some day. I'm generally not thrilled about descending on such steep terrain, but we had already planned an alternate route back.

spellman_climb.jpg spellman_waterfall.jpg ash_at_spellman_waterfall.jpg

Spellman ends at the Pumpelly trail about 0.7 miles from the summit. I think this distance is a little deceiving. Being a ridge trail, Pumpelly tended to go up and down quite a bit. I don't know how much this added to the elevation gain, but it felt a lot farther than 0.7 miles feels on most steady-climb trails. The colder temps, wind, and cloud layer could have added to this perception.


We reached the summit about 5:00pm and for the first time we were the only people there. Even in the middle of the winter that is unusual. The temp was about 35F and the winds were at least 30MPH. Windchill was at least -20F, so we hid from the wind behind some rocks and sat down for some snacks. Time was short, so after about 20min we headed back via the White Dot trail to the Old Ski Path. We've never hiked the Old Ski Path before, but at least on this occasion it had an eerie, almost surreal, feeling about it. Ash took an excellent photo of the trail and it really captures what it looked like with the exception of the shear volume of fluorescent white plants that lined the trail. The trail ended at the Red Spot trail which was and easy descent to the Birchtoft trail. We passed only 3 other hikers the entire time. Apart from a few fatigue-induced spills the descent was uneventful and we piled into the car and set out for food at 8:00pm. We found a pizza place on Rt. 202 in Jaffrey that did the job.

windy and wet summit old_ski_path.jpg All Pics . . .

Marlboro-Monte Rosa Loop - 2003 September 01

This turned out to be a great hike. The forecast was rain, but we only received light rain near the end of the hike. The views were great, the wind was calm, and the temperature was perfect. Hepa joined Ash and I for the first time. Elleing missed this one due to work. We hiked up Marlboro then down the White Arrow trail to the Amphitheater trail to the Smith Summit trail to Monte Rosa summit to the Great Pasture trail to the Marian trail and back to the Marlboro trail, phew! A great loop.

Monte Rosa from summit of Monadnock

We were on the summit in 90 minutes. This pace put us way ahead of schedule and even after a 50 minute summit break we decided to hike over to Monte Rosa to lengthen to trip a bit. We hiked down the White Arrow trail and missed the Amphitheater junction. I should have realized it especially since we stopped for a break right at the junction and I was staring at my map at that time, albeit for another reason. Fortunately, Ash didn't recognize the section of White Arrow we were on and it clued us into the missed junction. We hiked back up about 100 yards and then searched for and found a 2 square inch yellow stripe marking the spot where the trail goes off towards the Smith Summit trail.

Monadnock Summit Panorama ash_hepa_shawn_summit salamander.jpg sponge-like thing

The Amphitheater trail is a nice trail although poorly marked and just as poorly maintained. We stopped at the black precipice, a large cliff with considerable overhang. Apparently, it is used to rappel quite often since someone has secured a metal ring at the top of the cliff. We continued over to Monte Rosa just as the rain started to fall.

ash_on_the Black Precipice Shawn on Black Precipice shawn_weathervane mossy_brook really is mossy!

Great Pasture drops into a small ravine where it meets Mossy Brook and Marian trails in a flat (and mossy) area. The Marian trail then climbed more than we anticipated back to the Marlboro trail. I estimate we added another 400 feet with our Monte Rosa excursion. I'll guess that total mileage is about 5.5 miles. We went back to the house and Elleing, Andy, and Jim joined us for dinner.

All Pics . . .