Logo   How to Climb Mount Monadnock, NH
Climbing the second-most-climbed mountain in the world is more dangerous—and more satisfying—than you may think....



Want to be among the 125,000 people who climb to the summit of New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock each year?

Good! The hike is exhilarating, the view from the summit worth the climb.

Rough Trails

But it is not an easy hike. The trails are not smooth paths, but mostly broken rock (stones the size of auto tires or larger). In some places you must climb rock slopes (no tools or ropes needed, though.) You must be agile, strong-legged, with strong ankles. (The chances of a turned, strained or sprained ankle are high.) More...

Climbing Rules

Here's how to hike trails to the summit of Mount Monadnock pleasurably and safely:

1. Unless you're experienced hiking in winter weather, climb only in warm, fair weather (May to early October).

2. Allow at least two hours to climb to the summit from Monadnock State Park headquarters, and 1-1/2 to 2 hours to climb down. Four to five hours is the minimal reasonable time to make the complete hike, allowing some time to enjoy the view (and perhaps a picnic) at the summit.

If your party includes young children (1 to 8 years), older people (55+, that includes me), or anyone not in good middle-age physical condition, allow 5 to 6 hours or more.

3. Start your hike by lunchtime or earlier. Most enjoyable is to start after breakfast and reach the summit for a lunchtime picnic.

Plan to return to park headquarters at least 30 minutes before sunset, as the forest grows dark just after sunset, and picking your way across the trail's broken rock is tedious and dangerous, even with a flashlight.

  Mt Monadnock Trail, NH

White Dot Trail
climbs a rock face.

4. Wear sturdy shoes, have sunblock for the hour or two above tree line, and carry extra clothing for the windy summit: at least a light jacket/windbreaker, perhaps also a sweatshirt or sweater. If the temperature is comfortable (mid-70°sF/ 20°sC) at the base of the mountain, it will be chilly because of the wind at the summit. If it's cool at the base, it will be cold at the summit. Don't spoil the pleasure of your time at the summit by not having sufficient clothing.

5. Carry at least one quart/one liter of drinking water per person, preferably more. Also carry snacks such as trail mix, nuts, fresh or dried fruit, candy bars, fruit juice and, if you wish, a picnic lunch. There are no services on the mountain: no food, no water, no shelter, no communications (although your mobile phone may work.)

6. Carry a trash bag and plan to carry out everything you bring to the park. Monadnock is a carry-in, carry-out park. There are no trash receptacles anywhere in the park! Whatever you bring in with you, you must take out with you, even banana peels, apple cores, etc.

Summit of Mount Monadnock NH
Hikers at the summit of Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire.

Know Your Descent Trail!

Here's a warning that seems silly but is serious: be sure to descend the mountain on the same trail you ascended! Yes, it happens! Because the mountain has numerous trails to the summit, some hikers follow one trail up, and mistakenly follow a different trail down, reaching the base on the wrong side of the mountain. If your car is on one side and you are on the other side, at sunset, miles from your car, you may have no way to return to it except hiking for hours in the dark.

Trails up Mt Monadnock

Download Trail Map (.pdf, 2.6Mb)

About Mt Monadnock

Lake Sunapee

Lake Winnipesaukee

Hiking in New England

Camping in New England

New England Outdoors

New Hampshire Highlights

Tourist Information

About New Hampshire


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Rocky trail up Mount Monadnock NH

Above, typical trail to the summit
of Mt Monadnock: tree roots, broken rock...
a smooth path!

Mt Monadnock, NH



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