Hiking Trails on Mt. Monadnock
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Road Maps of the Area (Monadnock State Park is marked with a red dot near the top of the map). Use your BACK button to return to this page.
This web site began as a guide for new hikers of the mountain who had won a
charity auction for a tour to the summit. It focused on the trails from the main
part of Monadnock State Park to the summit. Since then, the site has slowly been including
other trails, with more to come. Photos will be added to the trail descriptions
that currently lack them. (Read about Mt. Monadnock and its surroundings from a
German perspective, in
German. A bit dated  but still interesting)
While the black and white photos were taken in the summer of 1997, the color photos found with the descriptions for the White Cross, White Dot, Cascade Link, Spellman and Pumpelly trails were taken in October, 1997, using either Ektachrome Elite II 200 film or Polaroid One Film. The colors are the natural ones associated with Fall foliage. The other photos were taken at various times during 1998 or later.
Hiking is the primary activity on the mountain, however picnicking and camping are also popular. A unique event is the annual Celebration of Dance performance in September.
Mt. Monadnock, or Grand Monadnock, claimed to
be the second most
climbed mountain in the world (after Mt. Fuji in Japan), is covered with hiking
trails, as the accompanying
trail maps show. Many of these trails
climb the southern faces of the mountain, visible in the photo above. Leaving
from the Monadnock State Park
headquarters (fee: $3.00 pp), however, limits our options. (Other
trails begin from all sides of the mountain. See the list.) The
two most popular trails are the White Dot Trail and
the White Cross Trail. The Spellman
Trail and the Red Spot Trail are two
alternatives that offer longer hikes but are more and less challenging, respectively.
(Both of these trails connect from and with other trails along the way.)
A second tract of the park, signed Old Toll Road (fee: $3.00 per person), provides a parking area only, with access to the Old Halfway House/White Arrow trail complex providing
a host of
secondary trails. A third tract at Gilson
Pond provides free entry and picnicking, with access to the mountain via the Birchtoft
Trail. There are also several trails originating along local roads, including
the Marlboro Trail, Dublin Trail and the Pumpelly
While each of these trails are different in some respects, at some point they all involve walking over steep terrain composed largely of very uneven rock surfaces (old talus slopes and scree). Other sections of the trails are broad rock faces, and they all begin in deciduous forest.
The trails are well established and soil has filled the areas between the rocks, but feet, ankles, knees, hearts and lungs will all get a good workout. In keeping with most New England trails, I find these more challenging than the majority of trails in the rest of the country, as they tend to avoid the inconvenience of switchbacks as they climb the mountain..
The starting point for our hike from the Monadnock State Park is the Parking Lot, located in the lower right corner of the map. The White Dot Trail begins at the parking lot and continues non-stop to the peak of Monadnock. Our alternative routes branch off this trunk line. The parking lot has an elevation of about 1350 feet. The peak is at 3165. Total elevation difference: 1815 feet.All of the trails we might take from the State Park follow the White Dot Trail initially: After a very brief level stretch just past the Visitors' Center, the trail starts its climb in mixed forest. The trail here is mostly soil, relatively smooth though steep and with many water bars to step over. It is very wide--in most places five or six people can comfortably walk side by side. The trail continues like this for about three-quarters of a mile (the Spruce Link trail branches off after about half a mile), until it levels out near Falcon Spring. The Falcon Spring area is a good spot for the first break. The spring has refreshingly cold and tasty water, and benches allow you to sit and catch your breath, though black flies or mosquitoes may make that idea less desirable in May or June. Three trails fork off here: The White Dot Trail continues straight ahead, the White Cross Trail branches to the left, and the Cascade Link, from which the Spellman and Red Dot trails originate, branches to the right.
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Last update and copyright © 31 July 1998 by Wayne Brink, email: firstname.lastname@example.org