Hike Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,748 feet
Prominence: 2,150 feet
Click here for a review of prominence and its role in mountain topography
Let's get this point out there right away. As strange as it sounds, Mt Monadnock has long been cited by climbing sites/references as the #2 most frequently climbed mountain in the world behind only Mt Fuji in Japan. So on a warm September day, I became one of the 125,000 people that climb Monadnock each year. Dave was nursing a sore foot so I hiked it alone.
Here are the trails I followed on this hike.
The width of the trail was a reminder of the heavy foot traffic and popularity of this mountain.
Filled with rocks and tree roots, the trail began a steady ascent.
The trail became more steep with large boulders that intensified the scrambling.
Finally, the trail plateaued around the treeline and provided glimpses of the surrounding mountains and hills of southern NH.
The trail traversed several rock ledges and occasionally ducked in and out of the trees along the way.
I had gained enough elevation to have a clear view of Thorndike Pond and the northwest mountains.
The Cascade Link Trail made a 360 degree turn to join the Pumpelly Trail which runs along the back side of the mountain.
A short distance after joining the trail, the summit came into view.
Once out of the trees, the last push to the summit was one giant rock scramble.
Cairns mark the 'best' path on the slab .
Turkey vultures were riding the thermals. These scavengers feed almost exclusively on dead animal carcasses. It's a large bird with a wingspan of 5-6 feet. Turkey vultures are gregarious and roost in large community groups, breaking away to forage independently during the day. Several hundred vultures may roost communally in a single group.
A final bit of scrambling to the summit.
From this viewpoint I could see people congregating on the summit. Because I had chosen a less common path to the summit, I had seen less than half a dozen people until I reached the summit.
Mt Monadnock is a bald dome of tortured metamorphic rock (schist and quartzite) that was smooth over by glaciers approximately 18,000 years ago.
The summit is barren largely because of fires set by early settlers. The first major fire, set in 1800 to clear the lower slopes for pasture, swept through the stands of virgin red spruce on the summit and flanks of the mountain. Between 1810 and 1820, local farmers, who believed that wolves were denning in the blowdowns, set fire to the mountain again. The conflagration raged for weeks, destroying the topsoil and denuding the mountain above 2,000 feet. Trees are slowly creeping up the mountain as the soil is naturally replaced, but it will take centuries for nature to repair the damage.
At 3,165 feet, you can see all six New England states and up to 100 miles in all directions from the summit. It was really crowded for a weekday, so I found an isolated spot on a ledge and socially distanced while I enjoyed the views and had a snack.
Mt Monadnock towers over 1,000 feet higher than any other peak in the area.
Since I started after 12:30pm, I decided to take the most direct route down on the White Dot Trail. The trail started out on easy rock slab sections.
Here's a great view of the summit from the trail heading down.
It wasn't long before I reached the trees.
This was one of my last views before I entered a more dense forested area.
The trail was moderately steep in some places.
And being New England, there was no shortage of rock scrambles.
It was a nice hike and I'd definitely come back again if Dave wants to experience Mt Monadnock.
Hike Distance: 6.2 miles
Duration: 4.75 hours
Average Pace: 45.5 min/mile