Trip Report: Marlboro on Mona

Mt Monadnock (3,165 feet). Jaffrey, NH. 2020-09-26 (Saturday.)

Via Marlboro Trail. 4.2 miles round-trip. 1,865 feet elevation change

Temps were in the low 70s throughout. Winds were negligible in the trees, about 10-15 knots at the summit. Sun with a few clouds and some high altitude haze. 

Trailhead: 1330. Summit: 1545. Car: 1730. 

Making Miles up Marlboro on Monadnock!

If you go through my posts, you’ll notice I’m not much of a Saturday hiker. I get two days off midweek, which suits me: I can hike, then blog, and I’ve dropped some knowledge so you guys can make plans for your weekends. And all the while, I’m enjoying solitude, which really suits me. But a dear friend asked if we could do a hike, and so it made sense to break with my usual custom. I’d been wanting to do Marlboro anyway, so that worked out well. It was a good day. 

This being Monadnock, and probably the mountain I’ve written about the most, I’m going to let the photos do the talking. Suffice it to say this much: it’s another of Monadnock’s friendlier trails. I should probably do Birchtoft again because it’s been awhile, and I’ve only done the Old Toll Road to Parker, but at this point, I’ve either hit the summit, or descended from it, by all four compass points. That’s pretty neat, and something I’m not sure I’ve done anywhere else. There’s still the bajillion summit trails that I’ve yet to nail down, but slowly, I’m hiking every mile on every trail. It’s been a nice exploration of the different sides, and one that keeps quietly giving up its secrets. I see no reason to stop. 

Starting out, the trail isn’t terribly steep, but there’s a bunch of rocks and roots. Oddly, I couldn’t escape the sense that the understory is pretty thin.
Some unneeded puncheon. With the drought, and no drainages or seeps nearby, there’s no chance of mud at the moment.
Interesting stone wall built by a bend in the trail. It goes up a fair bit more steeply at this point.
Some open ledges offer the first expansive views to the west.
Junction with the Marian trail leaves nothing ambiguous.
A pair of hawks, lazily soaring overhead.
Nearer the summit, just below Jim’s Junction. The trail got a bit more technical.
Immediately below Jim’s Junction.
Just about there now. You’re on both Dublin and Marlboro trails at this point.
Summit Selfie. Being officially autumn, the summit was crowded, but not nearly as bad as in summertime.
Looking north-ish out over Pumpelly Ridge. Maples are turning.
Quoth the raven: “hike some more!”

Much of today’s trail could break down roughly in two. First half was rocks and roots. Second half was rocky and ledgy. Overall, this isn’t even remotely one of the harder trails on the mountain. About as easy to get to as White Dot/Cross, but I think the ‘Dot is harder, due to its much more technical sections. Unlike that trail, this one featured nothing that required hand-over-foot climbing, and not even much scrambling. If it weren’t the second trailhead on 124, I think it might get more traffic than it does. Certainly worth a trip, maybe more.

As always, stay safe out there.

Nuts and Bolts: From the main entrance, continue on 124. In a couple miles, you’ll pass the entrance (on the right) to the Old Toll Road trailhead parking area. From there, it’s another 1.9 miles to Shaker Farm Road South. Go up about 3/4 of a mile, and parking is on the left. Walk back out from the parking area, turn left, and you’ll see the trailhead kiosk. Blazes are vertical white stripes, or a “W” painted on the rocks. Not hard to find your way. 

Reservations Required: Parking reservations are required if you plan on hiking up White Dot/Cross, Birchtoft, or the Old Toll Road. Details are on the NH State Park website. The park makes it clear that they will turn away hikers who don’t have reservations for those trailheads, so don’t set yourself up for some aggravation. There are no reservations required for the other trailheads as I write this, however, I was told by some hikers that they had shown up without reservations at the main entrance, only to be directed to the Marlboro Trailhead. This can have the knock-on effect of filling up Marlboro, and there are “NO PARKING” signs everywhere on Shaker Farm Road outside the parking lot. I saw no illegally parked cars, which either means the lot was emptying as fast as new hikers arrived, or the neighbors are quick to have scofflaws towed. It’s a very long walk, so that’s not one I want to test out. Have a backup plan, as you should for anything in the mountains.

On the way down, mind that you’re also on the Dublin Trail for the first bit until you hit Jim’s Junction. Oh, and be sure, heading down from the summit, that you’re going off the correct side. Some hikers today set out facing the wrong way, and nearly had themselves a very long walk back to the car. (And for the love of the mountains, carry a paper map and compass!) 

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