Pumpelly Trail, Mt Monadnock


• 5-star hike
• 8.4 mile out-and-back • Medium difficulty
• Elevation gain 2,010 feet (1,500 - 3,165ft)
• Monadnock Region • Dublin NH
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The Pumpelly Trail traces a clear path up the ridgeline to towards a distant summit.

Standing proud above rolling Southern New Hampshire terrain by two and a half thousand feet, Mount Monadnock is an impressive sight, yet it’s hard to believe this place is purported to be one of the most visited mountains in the world.

We chose to avoid the crowds of the singularly popular White Dot and White Cross route (3.8 miles and 1800 feet gain), and start on the North side of the mountain at Dublin Pond.

This is the Pumpelly trail, marked out by a local naturalist in the late nineteenth century. Although longer and with greater elevation gain than all other Monadnock trails, this route offers a mostly gradual incline and the most spectacular views on the whole mountain.


Cairns make wayfinding much easier as the trees recede

For the first mile-and-a-half the trail is easy going on a well-defined, wide and pine needle carpeted trail. Suddenly your pace will slow, as you have to lift yourself up 600 feet of the steepest part of the loop.

From this position you follow the ridge-line of Monadnock’s Northern saddle to the peak, surrounded by shorter and thinner trees, and more and more exposed granite caps. The mountain was unnaturally denuded of much of its topsoil and greenery by fires two hundred years ago. While no doubt an ecological misfortune, this does at least afford us expansive views all the way up the mountain from this point.


Biodiversity still persists atop the denuded mountain summit

Wayfinding becomes more difficult on the exposed granite, but stone cairns - looking like turds of a giant rock monster - pepper the landscape, and are useful and possibly necessary markers as you make your way to the 3,165 foot domed summit.

Afforded with a clear day, there’s plenty to see from the summit – including North Pack Monadnock in Miller Park to the east, Crotched Mountain to the North, and the tall buildings of Boston to the SouthEast. Watch out for all the old graffiti atop the peak – it appears that vandals used to come prepared with hammer and chisel, over a century and a half before Sharpies were invented.

Wayfinding your return journey requires some caution. There are three junctions off the Pumpelly trail leading in other directions - be sure of your route at these locations.



We’ve rated this trail as medium difficulty, but note that some rock scrambling is required, and on wetter days the trail is likely to be more difficult to tackle due to slippery granite surfaces.

This trail does not encroach upon Monadnock State Park at any point, so no fees or reservations are required. Roadside parking is available at the Dublin Pond trailhead and further West along the road, but do be mindful of the many no parking signs and arrows.

Note that drone photography is prohibited in NH State Parks. No rules were violated in the creation of this article.

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