Monadnock Trails

Monadnock Maps

About Monadnock

Monadnock Vegetation

Old Trail Descriptions

Hiking Information

Tags: Winter Hiking, Hiking Safety, Safe Winter Hiking, Mountain Hiking, Backpacking Safety, Monadnock Trails, Monadnock Mountain, New Hampshire Hiking, Monadnock, Hiking New Hampshire, Mt Monadnock, NH

Winter Hiking

Above: On Mount Monadnock in sub-zero conditions

Winter Hiking

Winter Hiking Clothing and Safety

Winter hiking clothing and gear is necessary for a safe and comfortable hike whether you are hiking Mount Monadnock, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, other peaks of the northeast, or any mountain.  You should be clothed in layers so you can peel off layers as you warm up.  There is a saying in winter that "cotton kills."   You should wear no cotton because when its wet cotton can cause you to get chilled and hypothermic.  It is a good idea to be familiar with where you are hiking before winter because deep snow, rime ice and fog can make following a trail difficult and knowing the way may help.  Side trails may be difficult to follow under a deep blanket of snow and snow covered trees that may sag down to obscure trails.  Main trails may get packed to ice and crampons are recommended instead of hiking along the sides of trails.  It also is a good idea to be familiar with off-trail navigation and use of a compass.  If there is a strong cold northwest wind it may be best to hike on the south and east side of the mountain.  In the White Mountains there are some arctic days that Mount Washington shouldn't be attempted.  Spruce and fir forests offer protection against the wind and hiking can be enjoyed even on cold winter days when you are properly prepared.
For more information about current weather and conditions, click; TrailWeather+News.
For more information about safe hiking, click; HikingSafety.


Polypropylene undershirts and under wear are a good first layer, to keep you dry and wick sweat away from you.  A long sleeve undershirt is preferable in sub-freezing conditions because you may peel down to an undershirt in winter under the exertion of hiking up a mountain.  Light long underwear is also a good idea in sub-freezing temperatures.  I recommend light long under wear because hiking is a physical activity and you don't want to sweat too much.  A fleece or wool mid layer with a Gore-tex jacket and pants are also advisable.  You should also bring something to cover your face, such as a face mask, balaclava or neck gaiter, if you will be exposed to sub-zero wind chills.  In extreme arctic cold conditons an extra layer can help above tree-line and on descent.


Heavy boots, fully leather with layered socks or winter boots should be worn.  Plastic Mountaineering boots are optional, although may be advised for Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, NH.  Snow gaiters are needed to keep snow out of your boots.  Summer "sneaker-boots" are definitely not recommended.

Crampons and Snowshoes

Crampons should be packed and used if needed, especially above tree-line.  Even below tree-line the trails can get very icy.  It is always harder to descend icy conditions than to ascend icy conditions.  Micro-spikes and other ice traction devices can be used on your boots.  They may be easier and faster to hike with but are not a substitute for crampons when it is solid ice above tree-line.  Rubber straps on some ice traction devices may grind on rock in the course of a hike and break which can be hazardous when you are on solid ice.  An ice axe may be practical if it is very icy and a necessity above tree-line in the White Mountains. Snow shoes may be brought for less used trails or after a significant snowfall but trails that see a lot of use may get packed in and snow shoes may not be needed.  Bringing some nylon cord (non-flexible) may also help in case a crampon, snow shoe, or ice traction device breaks and can serve many purposes.

Gloves and Mittens

In the White Mountains mittens are recommended but I prefer the dexterity of heavy gloves; gore-tex shell with an insulating layer.  I find in cold or arctic conditions around 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius) or colder, heat packs in heavy gloves will keep your fingers from getting cold.  It is much colder aloft on brisk winter days and in winter mornings valleys can be colder.  In warmer conditions I don't recommend heat packs because the heat will circulate to you warming you up too much.

Keep Cool and Dry

In winter you should dress in layers instead of one heavy coat.  In winter you should try not to get too warm, and peel off layers so you don't sweat too much.  Even in temperatures around 10 degrees F you may peel down to a long sleeve undershirt hiking up the mountain.  You should keep cool and dry in winter.  You can get chilled and hypothermic in wet, sweat soaked clothes.

Water and Food

It is advisable to bring plenty of water in winter, especially in cold conditions.  In colder conditions the air is drier.  You lose hydration from sweat, perspiration and respiration.  Dehydration may diminish circulation causing hypothermia and frostbite.  Water can also freeze up so you should keep it wrapped up and on a longer hike keep a bottle of water for later in a layer so your body warmth will keep it from freezing.  You consume extra calories in winter so you should bring snacks to eat as well.  You can get hypothermic if you run out of calories to burn.

Be Prepared to Spend the Night

In winter, hiking the White Mountains of NH or Adirondacks, NY it is recommended that you be prepared to spend the night and essentially backpack, such as packing a bivy.  You should also pack extra heat-packs for fingers and toes to prevent frostbite.  Backpacking may be overkill on Mount Monadnock but I pack 2 extra heavy duty trash bags for shelter to survive a possible night on the mountain.  Trash bags are very lightweight and take little space in a pack.  Trash bags have been recommended for survival by Navy Seals.  A trash bag may also come in handy if a zipper breaks on a coat above treeline exposed to the cold winter winds.  Winter days are short and be aware of time of sunset.

Winter Hiking in Monadnock State Park

Monadnock State Park is open 365 days a year.  Monadnock State Park is plowed and cleared for winter hiking.  Other trail-heads may not be accessible, clear or parking may be limited.  You may even need a shovel.  Check the weather before hiking because even driving in the hill-country can be a challenging and hazardous in snowy or icy weather.  There are also un-groomed cross-country ski trails in Monadnock State Park.

Below: Pumpelly Trail

Monadnock Trails to visit:


Monadnock Trails website: Author, Creator, and photos by Frederick Pitcher 2015
Use of the information on this site is the sole risk of the user.  The author is not responsible for the trails or anyone's ability to follow them.  In addition to the trails there are certain places in this website described that are off trail.  Anyone exploring Monadnock does so at their own risk.


Tags: Winter Hiking, Hiking Safety, Safe Winter Hiking, Mountain Hiking, Backpacking Safety, Monadnock Trails, Monadnock Mountain, New Hampshire Hiking, Monadnock, Hiking New Hampshire, Mt Monadnock, NH

Jaffrey Weather Forecast, NH

The weather above is for the base of the mountain.