Great Late Summer Day Hikes: Climbing Monadnock

Climbing the broad-shouldered peak Henry David Thoreau called a “sublime mass,” Mt. Monadnock, is a rite of passage for many New England children. Just over the border of Massachusetts in southern New Hampshire, Monadnock is less than a two-hour drive from Boston. Its accessibility and locale, smack dab in the center of New England, has made it one of the two most popular mountain ascents in the world going toe-to-toe with Japan’s Mount Fuji. 

Early September, when the black flies are long gone and the first hints of fall color can be seen, is the ideal time to bag this 3,165-foot peak. Head up the White Dot trail, one of the steepest ascents, but also one that rewards with you with incredible vistas in a very short time. Above treeline, the forest recedes to form open ledges covered with low-lying shrubs like mountain cranberry bushes. This gives you ample opportunity to rest and peer down at the soft blanket of treetops, small towns with their requisite white steeples, a smattering of lakes and ponds, and farms that fan out to anonymous ridges. Soon you’ll reach the summit, where Thoreau watched in dismay as his fellow mid-19th century trampers inscribed their names in rock. You can still spot names like “T.S. Spaulding, 1853” clearly etched in the stone.