White Dot and White Cross Trails(Trailhead coordinates: 42.84576 N, 72.08881 W)
- The White Dot is a direct route to the summit. The White Cross is a similar, almost parallel route.
- Distance from parking lot to summit:
- about 1.9 miles, and 2.1 miles, respectively.
- Ascending time:
- About two hours.
- Descending time:
- About one hour.
- Difficulty rating/rank:
- Crowd factor:
- 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being near-continuous contact with others.) Typically very crowded.
- Monadnock State Park Headquarters, off Dublin Rd., off Rt. 124.
- Trail marker:
- White Dot Trail: a white dot; White Cross Trail: a white cross.
- Average Grade:
- 17%. Steepest 660 yards: 31% (White Dot), 30% (White Cross)
|Location||Time (ascending, approx.—average hiker in good condition)||Distance (ascending, approx.)||Altitude (from topographic map)|
|Trailhead||-||-||1358 ft. (414 m)|
|White Cross Trail — Formerly Spruce Link junction||15 minutes||0.4 miles (700 m)||1593 ft. (516 m)|
|Falcon Spring||20 minutes||0.6 miles (974 m)||1831 ft. (558 m)|
|White Dot junction with Cascade Link (via Falcon Spring)||20 minutes||0.6 miles (980 m)||1850 ft. (564 m)|
|Upper White Dot junction with White Cross, via Spruce Link and White Cross||1-1/4 to 1 hour, 20 minutes (about 20 +/- minutes more to the top)||1.83 miles (2.95 km)||2881 ft (880 m)|
|Summit||1-1/2 hours to 2 hours||via White Dot: 1.89 miles (3.04 km)
via White Cross: 2.08 miles (3.35 km)
via Spruce Link & White Cross: 2.07 miles (3.33 km)
|3165 ft. (965 m) (official)|
The White Dot Trail and the White Cross Trail are very similar in character, paralleling each other for most of the length of the White Cross Trail. These two trails essentially go straight up the mountain from their lower junction. (They split before Falcon Spring, a source of icy cold drinking water, at what used to be the Spruce Link.) The distance to the top via the White Dot Trail is a little under 2 miles. The White Cross Trail is slightly less than a quarter mile longer.
These two trails are almost unrelenting in their climbs. The White Cross Trail branches off the White Dot Trail below Falcon spring and begins by approximately following a single line of elevation for the first few hundred yards, but the White Dot Trail continues uphill and after Falcon Spring immediately goes for altitude along a rock- and root-strewn path. Eventually both trails climb wide, well-worn but rough trails up and up for three-quarters of a mile that seem more like three whole miles. Over the years, the trail crews have been restructuring some of the sections, adding stairs to make the climb easier and reduce the erosion. The White Dot Trail is especially replete with stairs these days (though anyone who's climbed Yosemite's Mist Trail won't be impressed by the number of steps).
With your elevation increasing, the trails are more and more frequently broken by stretches of bare rock faces instead of the broken rock early on. At least one of these faces on the White Dot Trail is quite steep (perhaps about 30 degrees of slope) and maybe 15 yards long. The initial approach appears daunting to many people, though someone in the know can skirt the face by taking an alternate trail to the left and around the difficult section, or reaching for the hand-holds around the corner of the rock outcropping. (Coming down can be even more of a challenge!) Though the White Cross trail has its share of steep sections, none are more difficult to maneuver through. Experienced hikers, however, go through this section with little difficulty.
As you climb, and especially as you pass the larger rock faces, the trees change character, becoming thinner, shorter, and sparser. You should turn around to look at the spectacular views that are opening up behind you. Both trails have several natural rest areas with great views. After several hints that the trails are leveling off, they finally lose much of their steepness near the deciduous tree line. The White Dot Trail turns to the left (west) toward its upper junction with the White Cross Trail shortly after this. As you continue to climb, you are presented with several views of the summit. Unfortunately, all but the last view are false summits—your goal is farther away than you think.
The joined trails, once again simply identified as the White Dot Trail, now are crossing over solid rock exclusively as they wend their way to the peak.
Both these trails have some nasty sections of broken rock that require you to pay attention to how you place your feet. The biggest difference between the two trails is probably in their profiles. The White Dot Trail has more stretches where it levels out a bit to give you a little breather. The White Cross Trail, on the other hand, climbs at a steadier rate. But when the White Dot climbs, it tends to be be at a steeper angle than the slope of the White Cross. If you prefer a climb that gives you an occasional rest, the White Dot may be the way to go. But if you prefer a steady hike that is perhaps just a little less intense, the White Cross would be your choice. Many experienced Mt. Monadnock hikers avoid both these trails, in part because of the crowds, and thus also in part because of the excessive erosion which has led in many cases to the somewhat greater potential for a slip and twisted ankle in some of the rockier areas. My personal preference: The White Cross. Park rangers, however, typically suggest going up the White Dot Trail and coming down the White Cross Trail.