Mount Monadnock is the most climbed mountain in America and third most climbed mountain in the world, according to and for Keene State College students it’s less than a half-an-hour drive from Keene.

“I was nervous at first because I thought it was going to be a challenging hike,” Emily Murphy, a KSC senior said, “But once I started I instantly loved it, the area was so pretty and the trails were so clean and kept up.”

According to the website there are 34 maintained trails on Monadnock, but the most popular are the White Cross and White Dot Trails. These trails are about 4.4 miles round-trip and about a three-to-four hour hike, according to the book “Hiking New Hampshire.”

The White Dot Trail is a more direct route to the top but steeper than the White Cross Trail.

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

At the peak of Mount Monadnock, 3,165 feet above sea level, there are 360-degree views of smaller mountains and lakes. Hence why it is named Monadnock, which can be translated to “The mountain that stands alone,” according to “Hiking New Hampshire.”

Jacob Kenneth, secretary of the Environmental Outing Club [EOC] at KSC, said he grew up in the White Mountains but had never been on a freestanding mountain like Monadnock.

Kenneth said that along with seeing the Boston skyline, you can see straight in every direction.

“I’ve never been on a mountain where you can see 360-degrees without any obstructions, you can see straight until your view is obstructed by the tilt of the Earth,” Kenneth stated.

“I loved that there was a view to look at the whole way up,” Murphy said about hiking Monadnock, “It really gave me a new perspective on a place I’ve been living for three years.”

Murphy continued, “The other people on the mountain were also really nice, every person we passed said some words of encouragement and wished us good luck.”

For those who get bored hiking the main trails of Mount Monadnock, there is also the Pumpelly Trail, which is a nine mile, six-to-seven hour hike—“The longest, most diverse trail to the summit,” according to “Hiking New Hampshire.”

On this hike, hikers follow the ridge to the top of Monadnock as cairns lead the way.

Off the Pumpelly Trail there are also unmarked and hidden places such as the Pumpelly Cave, Spy Cave and the Eagle’s Nest, indicated by, for those who are interested in exploring the area off the main trails.

“I’ve hiked Monadnock every which way you possibly can,” Kenneth said, “There’s cool stuff like the Artist’s Cave off Pumpelly that there are no directions to, which is built into rock and has a fireplace.”

Another hiking location, a half-hour drive from Keene, is dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Antrim, N.H.

This two-and-a-quarter mile, three-hour hike entails a shore-side walk to the Tudor Trail and then to Bald Mountain Trail, where it leads you to the ledges with views of Monadnock, Crotched Mountain and Willard Pond.

The Harriskat Trail in the Harris Center for Conservation Education is a four-mile hike and about a half-hour drive from Keene. In this 7,000 acre ‘sanctuary’ there are many trails for short walks as well as a longer hikes, according to “Hiking New Hampshire.”

The Harriskat Trail is marked by white triangles and paw prints, which lead to Skatutakee Mountain and Thumb Mountain.

This hike has views of Crotched Mountain, Pack Monadnock and Mount Monadnock and ends at a park-like setting at Jacks Pond.

Temple Mountain, a 40-minute drive from Keene and Gap Mountain, a 20-minute drive, are two other hiking locations in the area.

Kenneth said the EOC hikes Gap Mountain sometimes at night if there is an eclipse or particular starry night because it’s less than an hour to the top and has a great view from the bald-top mountain.

Pack Monadnock provides a mellower three-to-four hour ridge-line walk to another summit and back.

This has views of Mount Monadnock as well as scenic spots for picnics.

KSC senior Shannon Nugent said North Pack is her favorite hike in the area, “I really like the trail, it’s a moderate hike with a great view.”

Nugent also said Pack Monadnock is part of the Wapack Trail, a 21-mile hike from North Pack Monadnock to Ashburnham, Mass., which she did in ten hours.

Another known hiking spot near Keene is Goose Pond. This two-mile trail leads to the pond from Surry Road and all the way around the pond.

Those who like the mellow walk around Goose Pond may also be interested in Pisgah State Park and Rhododendron State Park. Pisgah State Park is New Hampshire’s largest state park and has a 5.4 mile hike, called Kilburn Loop, which is a walk through some of the parks 13,000 acres of woodland, ponds and marshes.

Rhododendron State Park has a trail less than a mile long through the wooded area filled with flowers, according to “Hiking New Hampshire.”

This trail also meets up with a two-mile round trip loop to Little Monadnock Mountain.

“The really unfortunate thing is you have to drive wherever you want to go hike,” Nugent said, noting that the only place accessible without a car is Goose Pond.

Murphy said, “I would recommend hiking [Monadnock] to anyone because you feel so accomplished when you’re standing at the top of a mountain looking at everything you just climbed.”


Taylor Thomas can be contacted at

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