The top of Little Monadnock is easily reached from Rhododendron State Park. It is a hike of about 1.2 miles from the Park entrance and a climb of 700 feet in elevation.
To reach top of Little Monadnock, proceed as follows:
Enter the Park between the two stone pillars at the edge of the parking lot.
Go straight ahead on a well graded trail for about two tenths of a mile to a trail junction with a sign indicating the trail to Little Monadnock.
Bear right at this sign and follow the orange plastic blazes on the trees. There are also occasional long white blazes that also indicate the trail.
The Trail shortly begins to climb through old fields now overgrown with forest. The trail is steep at times but easily traveled except for one short scramble over a rocky ledge. The climb should take from a half hour (in shape) to an hour (couch potato).
When you emerge on a rocky open ledge, you will be greeted by a magnificent view of Mt. Monadnock to the northeast. You will also find white blazes on the rocks. These blazes mark the Metacomet Monadnock Trail, a hiking trail that runs from the Massachusetts/Connecticut border to the top of Monadnock. Click here for more information about this trail.
You have two options for futher exploration at this point:
(1) If you turn right (North) and follow the white blazes on the rocks and trees for about .2 miles, you will come out on an open granite ledge at the North end of the summit ridge. Here you will discover a 180 degree view of (starting to the right) Temple Mountain and the range of hills to its south, Gap Mountain (notice the notch in the middle), Monadnock, the Town of Troy NH, Mt. Ascutney to the Northwest and Vermont's Green Mountain ridge far to the West. See how many ski mountains you can find!
(2) If you turn left (South) on the Metacomet Monadnock Trail and travel about .2 miles, you will reach the true summit of Little Monadnock. While this summit is an open rock ledge, it is surrounded by trees and offers no views.
Be Prepared: As with any of the backwoods trails in this area, you should wear good walking shoes or boots, carry an extra sweater in cool weather and take a water bottle if the weather is warm. Check the weather report before you come to the Park and carry rain gear if necessary. Start you climb at least two hours before sunset. And be sure to take along a camera.
INSECTS: If you hike in the Monadnock Region in May or June, you will encounter black flies and/or mosquitoes. Click on Insects for furthur information.
Note: If you plan to take this hike, you may wish to print out this description to take with you.
For those up to the challenge, the climb up Little Monadnock can be the beginning of a loop hike of a little less than 4 miles. To make this loop, proceed as follows:
Park in the Rhododendron Park parking lot and climb Little Monadnock as described above. (Mileages given below are from the parking lot)
At the top of this climb (1.2 miles) turn left and follow the white blazes of the Metacomet Monadnock Trail (MM Trail) to the true summit (1.4 miles).
Continue over this summit and bear right and steeply down off the summit, still following the white blazes of the MM Trail.
At 1.5 miles reach an open ledge with a partial view to the west. (A side trail to the right just before the ledge leads to a more extensive view.) Follow trail to descend steeply off of this ledge. Bear left and follow trail, steadily descending along the rocky soutwest ridge of the mountain. Watch for blazes on trees and ledges.
At about 1.8 miles the rocky ridge ends and the trail continues to descend through varied forest finally descending a steep gully and crossing a seasonal brook (2.3 miles).
Continue descending beside the brook. Where the trail takes a turn to the right (2.4 miles), look for a trail blazed with orange markers on the left. (There should be a sign here with an arrow and reading "Widow Gage Forest Parking Lot")
Take this trail to the left. Shortly (200 feet) reach a junction with the Widow Gage Forest "Blue" (blazed) Trail. Go left on this trail.
At 2.5 miles reach another junction of the "Blue" Trail. Turn left at this junction.
At 2.7 miles reach the Widow Gage Forest parking lot on Rhododendron Road. Turn left onto Rhododendron Road and follow it back to Rhododendron Park. Rhododendron Road is a town maintained gravel road for most of this section. There is little traffic and few habitations along the road. Reach the Rhododendron Park parking area at 3.8 miles.
(You can, of course, shorten this hike by a mile by arranging for someone to meet you at the Widow Gage Forest Parking Lot.)
This hike will take you into the backwoods through a variety of ecosystems. Although this land was once cleared fields (as evidenced by the many stone walls) you will be out of sight of any habitation until you reach Rhododendron Road. If you enjoy this hike, you might want to hike more of the MM Trail. Go to the Metacomet Monadnock Trail web site for a detailed description of the trail.
A guide to 30 nature walks and day hikes in the Monadnock Region is available from Bequaert Old Books in Fitzwilliam Center. They also have the Metacomet Monadnock Trail Guide in stock. These guides are available at their shop or by mail. Click on Bequaert Old Books for furthur information.