Last Saturday I had some friends visiting from out of town, and we decided enjoy the gorgeous summer weather and climb Mount Monadnock. Mount Monadnock is located in Jaffrey, and is about a 40 minute drive from the Chesterfield Inn. We had breakfast at the inn, got our water bottles, bug spray, and hiking boots, and headed to Keene to pick up lunch to eat at the top of the mountain. From Keene, we followed Route 101 East to Marlborough and turned onto Route 124 towards Jaffrey.
Mount Monadnock is one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world. Its name comes from the Abenaki word meaning mountain that stands alone, and has come to mean in geological terms any isolated mountain that rises above the surrounding plain. The mountain is 3165 feet in elevation and the top has a rocky crown that offers 100 mile views of of all six New England states on a clear day. The mountain can be climbed with starting points on all sides, and has about 40 miles of trails on its slopes.
Phil and I discovered the Marlborough Trail years ago and we find it to be the fastest way to the top with the shortest drive for us. The trail head is on South Shaker Farm Road, which is a left turn off of Route 124 on the Marlborough/Jaffrey border. The dirt road is a bit rough but is fine for cars without 4 wheel drive as long as you drive slowly. There is a small parking lot and map at the trail head. The trail starts out on level ground but quickly turns up hill and soon you are climbing rock faces on the wooded trail. The trail is clearly marked with white dots, dotted lines, and M’s painted on the rocky surface. At some points the trails is marked by cairns , which are man made piles of rocks in a cone shape, strategically placed at trail turns and junctions. There were several points where we could stop and enjoy the expansive view of the valley below. We made it to the top in about 2 hours, moving at a steady but not too fast pace (not bad for 2 50 year-olds and 2 teenagers).
The top of the mountain has no trees, but is rocky and craggy, with great views, and many nooks and crannies to explore. There were plenty of people up there when we arrived, which was surprising, because we had seen only about 15 people on the hike up. The Marlborough Trail is not the most popular and there are many other routes for people to climb. We sat on the rocks and ate our lunch, which was so much more delicious than it would have been if eaten at home! It was sunny and breezy and cool, which was very refreshing after the long climb up.
We then headed down, back the way we came, and arrived at the bottom about an hour and a half later, with tired legs, but a great sense of accomplishment!