Hiked Mt Monadnock with my husband on Labor Day weekend. I was expecting trails through woods, with a few rocks and roots. I was not expecting the steep climbs that the shortest/most direct trails to the top (White Dot and White Cross) entailed. Many long sections of these two trails are steep and composed entirely of rock - either falls of mid-sized, irregularly shaped and somewhat jagged rocks that can be carefully climbed like stairs, or larger, smoother outcroppings of granite. We arrived late (3pm) and had to rush, because sunset was at 7:19 pm and the woods would be DARK by about 7:30. The rangers told us it takes the "average" hiker 4 hours round trip, not including time spent enjoying the views at the top. I am in moderately good shape - I walk and go to the gym several days each week - so my husband and I pretty much rushed to get to the top in 90 minutes without taking a break. I was exhausted when we arrived at the peak. Although it had been a beautiful day, we arrived above tree-line to discover an isolated rain cloud moving in. It only rained for 30 minutes, but it was enough to make all of the rocks slippery (especially the smooth outcroppings with lichens on them) and the little bit of dirt between the rocks turned to mud. It took us 2 hours to get back down without stopping at all. Frankly, I felt the hike back down was dangerous on the wet rocks - a slip and fall could easily lead to serious injuries (broken bones or worse) on the steep, jagged rocks. I went down most of the larger outcroppings by sliding on my butt, and I wasn't the only person doing that! Kids, with their lower center of gravity, actually seemed to manage better than the adults. That said, I wouldn't take a child younger than about 6 on Mt. Monadnock, and if carrying an infant I'd put them in a back-carrier (a front carrier will throw your weight off on the way down).
Bring plenty of water - there are NO water sources along the White Dot and White Cross trails after you leave the parking lot - and a jacket, because it's breezy and much chillier at the peak.
Overall, if you're an experienced hiker, you'll probably love Mt. Monadnock. The views from the top are fabulous. If you aren't used to mountain hiking, be prepared that this mountain is steep and rocky. Do not attempt it without hiking boots or at the very least, sturdy sneakers with good grip.
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