One of our favorite hikes in Southern New Hampshire is Mt Monadnock. It’s in Jaffrey, which is basically in the Southwestern area of New Hampshire. It is a really nice trail on a hot summer day because it has a lot of shade on the steeper parts of the trail. It is also decent for beginners or kids. Last year, our hiking group consisted of beginners, intermediate, and advanced level hikers, as well as kids. And, everyone did fine and had a fun time.
Last summer we met my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for a hike. They actually camped (in a tent) at the state park. The campground is pretty nice. It’s full of beautiful trees. However, our 5th wheel wouldn’t fit in the small spaces. It is definitely more of a tenting campground. It was my sister-in-law’s first time camping and she had a great time!
We prefer to go to the State Park to start because they have ample parking and bathrooms at the trailhead. They also have Park Rangers available for questions or help. Also, at the base of the mountain is a tiny little museum. It has info about the history of Mt Monadnock and about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Both Emerson and Thoreau loved and wrote about Mt Monadnock.
We usually take the White Dot trail to the top and take the White Cross trail down. The White Dot trail is slightly shorter than the White Cross trail, but also has some spots that are steeper. I like taking the White Cross trail down because it has some fantastic views along the decent. They recommend 3-4 hours for a round trip, but it took us almost 6. (The kids always add time to our hike)
The top is really beautiful and you can see the surrounding countryside for miles on a clear day. It’s unique because the top 200 or 300 feet is barren. It is pretty much only rocks and boulders. There aren’t really any trees and very little vegetation. Apparently in the 19th century, Ranchers purposely burned the mountain top several times and it has never grown back. It makes for some fabulous views. It seems to always be a little breezy and cool at the top too, which is great on a warm day. We always pack a light lunch and snacks and have a mini picnic at the summit while we rest up.
The hardest part about hiking in New England is planning your hike around the weather. I don’t like hiking in the rain or cold. In New England, weather changes in the blink of an eye. It’s not like Arizona, where you can pretty much guarantee a sunny day! We have always been very lucky and had nice hiking days. The last time we hiked there, the dark sky started coming in as we headed down, but it didn’t rain until later. I would recommend being prepared for any weather while hiking in New England. New Englanders love to remind you of Mark Twain’s famous quote, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
If you are in the area and have a half day to hike, check out Mt Monadnock! You won’t regret it!