Hike the White Dot-White Cross Loop at Mount Monadnock

Mount Monadnock Headquarters, Jaffrey, New Hampshire, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    4.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1771 Feet

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

With an elevation of 3,165 feet, Mount Monadnock offers the best mountain views in southern New Hampshire. The park has a variety of trail lengths and difficulty options, making this a very popular mountain to visit.

The White Dot trail is the shortest, steepest ascent to the summit, while White Cross has a slightly easier grade down with very little difference in distance.  Therefore, per the park's rangers, the best way to conquer this loop is White Dot up, White Cross down.

The White Dot Trail begins at Monadnock State Park Headquarters, and starts as a mild, well-worn trail through the woods.  At 0.6 miles, you'll see the first junction for White Cross,  Continue along the White Dot option.

The trail soon becomes much steeper and eventually begins to mix with sections of bare ledge, including a difficult section of bare rock called the Chute.  This can be slippery if it's wet, as can many of the sections of bare ledge beyond this point, so caution is needed if there has been any rain or in the spring, ice melt.

From there the trail plateaus, and opens up to show views of your destination, Monadnock's summit.  The next portion of the trail is characterized by more open ledges, with only occasional dips into sections of forest.  Most of the open ledges in this section aren't steep and all are well marked with cairns.

At 1.6 miles, you once again meet up with White Cross, and begin you final ascent to the summit.  This final section is mostly exposed rock, often steep and slippery when wet.  The White Dot is a total of 2 miles to the summit.

After taking in the views (and snacks and water!), head back down White Dot to the White Cross junction.  Much like White Dot, this next section is a mix of forest and open rock, though the elevation change isn't quite as rapid.  Eventually, this gives way to a forest trail that is characterized by large boulders, often to be used as a natural set of stairs.  If you have ankle of knee problems, make sure to wear proper supportive footwear and braces, and to use hiking poles.

Eventually, as you approach the lower White Cross-White Dot junction, the boulders give way to a dirt trail.  At the junction, take a right onto the well maintained trail heading toward the state park headquarters.  The total distance for the White Cross trail is 2.2 miles.

Remember that the weather changes rapidly on any mountain, so be prepared with appropriate gear, and/or to turn back.  Also, during the warmer months, the bugs are overwhelming and aggressive in the lower trail sections, so bring bug spray.  Dogs are not allowed in this park, unfortunately.  Be prepared to pay for parking. 

Pack List

  • Snacks and Water
  • Layers, appropriate footwear
  • BUG SPRAY!  and Sunblock
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles and braces if you suffer from bad ankles or knees
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My first mountain summit 3 years ago. Had great weather not too hot could see for ever at the top. I found the white dot/cross trail is much harder than read about, being the most popular trek up the mountain. Took me about 4 hours round trip.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Shannon Kalahan Explorer

I am an avid traveler, adventurer, dog owner, chapstick user, professional photographer, teacher and author based out of New England. I love to meet new people, so please, reach out to say hi!

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