Fri, Oct 19, 2018
by Bill Newman
Hike Length: dayhike
Trails: White Dot Trail/Red Dot trail for ascent. Old Farmhouse for descent
Date: July 25, 2004
Okay, so this one isn't the most glamourous or remote hikes someone could do, but I figure that someone needs to come forward and admit to doing this one and to provide some information about it. The previous review from Allan is very good coming from the North and would be a worthwhile way to make this one even more interesting. For those that want to hit a mainline trail with the thousands of others on a daily basis, here you go:
It's very easy to find in Monadnock State Park off Rte 124 just past Jaffrey NH. There is a $3 fee per person payable at the entrance gate and a trail map is provided. Parking is plentiful....but expect a LOT of other hikers to be there in good weather.
The most direct way to the summit is the White Dot Trail, but if rock climbing (to a small extent) isn't your thing, then the White Arrow Trail would be the second most used route and only adds a quarter mile or so to the trip. The trail itself was more challenging than expected not including dodging all the other hikers. There are quite a few rocky parts to the trail but there are some "side" trails at these areas to get you by if you don't want to scramble up the rocks. You still should expect a moderate climb.
There are several outcrops to stop and look back, and the views were much better than expected. As a matter of fact, the entire hike was much better than expected. We were using this hike to help my partner rehab his leg that had been in a cast for the past 2 months, and didn't want to do anything too stressful but something that was at least a mild challenge to build the leg and see if he'll be ready for our upcoming Madison hike.
The summit comes into view fairly quickly and it's a very large rock summit. Plenty of room for the hundred or so people there this day. Summit height is 3160 and probably around an 1800 foot gain. The recommendation for this one is to do what Allan had suggested and explore the mountain. There are trails everywhere and various markings are used to identify each (Red dots for the Red Dot trail, white S's for the Spellman etc, white dots for the White Dot Trail), so it would be difficult to lose track of where you are or not run into some type of trail marker. This might be different in poor visiblity because there are a lot of cairns and it could be confusing if you're only following these due to the amounts each trail apprear to have.
Bring water! There was none to be found anywhere, but we did find plenty of blue berry patches (explore to find the best ones!) and try to find a secluded place for lunch instead of the summit with everyone else. There were tons of kids, so it can be a noisy peak! However, this mountain is free standing, meaning that there isn't much around except the valley floor, so the views from the top were much better than expected because there were no obstructions including trees to block your 360 degree view. You can see everything from The Whites to the Greens to the Boston skyline and it was really a great viewing mountain!
For the descent, we hiked a few different trails. First we hiked around the summit from the West face to the East face, and then into the White Arrow to the Spellman to the Cliff trail, but eventually used the Old Farmhouse Trail to the back end of the parking lot. A little less rocky than the "White" trails.Ascent time was about 2 hours and was done at a leisuely pace. The descent would probably be 2 1/2 the way we went, but we were exploring all around the summit, so it did add some time to our total. Use this hike the way we did, as practice or do it for fun with the kids. It's really not a bad way to spend a Sunday and a very nice way to spend some time with the family for very little money. Bring a picnic lunch, plenty of drinks, and enjoy the view! No special equipment is needed but I would recommend bug spray, WATER, and sunblock, plus leave a clean shirt in the car (personal observation.....bummed that I forgot one!)
Equipment: Water, solid footwear, patience!
Special Equipment: None
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