The Summit(Summit coordinates: 42.86135 N, 72.10842 W)
If you come up Mt. Monadnock's south-face trails, you're going to end your climb with a hundred yards or so of fairly steep, barren rock faces. Some people find they need help from their hands and from fellow hikers, though physically anyone who can hike this far should be able to make it to the top. Those climbers with a fear of heights may decide not to continue, though. With nothing but rock, the slopes are a little too naked for some of us. The climb at the end of the White Arrow Trail is particularly challenging.
While not achieving the summit, anyone who stops below the peak will still be rewarded by fantastic scenery. The intrepid climbers who reach the top get 360 degrees of beautiful New England landscape stretched out before them. On clear days, Boston is readily visible on the southeast horizon (it's actually easier to see without polarizing sunglasses than with them, in some conditions). Mount Washington can be seen to the northeast. The Green Mountains and the Berkshires are easily within view, and Mt. Wachusett to the south is obvious. New York manages to poke a couple of peaks into view. Maine and Connecticut are also visible, but it takes a very keen eye and a good horizon map to locate the couple of low summits found in Rhode Island that are just barely peeking over the horizon.
Many climbers are surprised by the forest land spread out before them, surrounding Mt. Monadnock. I've heard people liken it to a green sea! (One hiker claimed that he'd read that there are more BTUs in the New England forest than in all the oil of the Middle East.) In the fall, the sea changes to gold and red, with the blue waters of the ponds and lakes sparkling in contrast.
The peak is likely to be breezy, which can be refreshing after the
(The prevailing winds are from the west or northwest, and those of
us climbing the south or southeastern slopes don't get a lot of natural air
conditioning on the way up.) There is no cover, so on hot, still days you can
find it uncomfortably warm but usually it's pretty nice. On the other hand, on
cooler days the breeze on the summit of Mt. Monadnock can become uncomfortably
cool once you've recovered from the ascent; you'll probably appreciate a light
windbreaker. (If it's a very cool day to begin with, you may need more than a
When the weather is good you're likely to find that the peak is a crowded place. Often, people comment that it's like being at the beach. Standing room is the norm, though many people manage to find a place to stretch out and nap for a while, talk with friends, or even make out a little bit.
On a clear day you can see. . .The Presidential Range
in the White Mountains is typically the limit, about 105 miles to the North-Northeast.
Mt. Washington is the premier peak, but it is difficult to make out except in
the very best of conditions. Once or twice during the average summer the weather
may be clear enough for you to see it. On the very best of days, you might spot Mt. Mansfield in Vermont, about 120 miles away. Boston is frequently visible to the
Southeast, about 60-65 miles. Mt. Greylock is in the west-southwest, also
about 60 miles. A little to the north of Mt. Greylock and about five miles farther away
sits New York's Berlin Mountain—the only peak in the Taconic Range that pokes its summit
over the intervening hills and mountains, and not at all significant from this angle.
To the west are the southern Green Mountains of Vermont. You may be able to spot the windmills of the Searsburg Wind Power Facility right on the horizon if you have binoculars.
Except for Mt. Wachusett 30 miles to the south, there are few notable peaks in the distance in that direction. With binoculars you may be able to make out the hint of a hill in Rhode Island over the left shoulder of Wachusett's Pine Hill. Vermont's Mt. Ascutney is clearly visible, along with New Hampshire's Mt. Sunapee, almost due north.
Once you've caught your breath and looked around, take a half hour or so for lunch, then begin your climb down the mountain.
Dianne Eno/Fusion Danceworks
Dianne Eno/Fusion Danceworks presents "A Celebration of
Dance" performance on Mt. Monadnock roughly annually. It is normally held
on the first Saturday after Labor Day. If it rains on Saturday, the performance
will be on the next sunny weekend day that occurs, even if that means a delay of
These women dance among the rocks of the summit, using them as stage, backdrops and props for a fascinating and popular performance. See more about the dancers here.