OverviewAt 2.9 miles (5.8 round trip) and 1700' of vertical gain this trail is an easy class 1 walk-up that will take you past small brooks with serene falls. Elbow Trail is blazed blue and will meet with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, which will lead you to the open summit. The trail is heavily trodden and easy to follow, even without blazes.
Getting ThereSee the "Getting There" section of the main page for Elbow Trail.
Route DescriptionThe open and obvious trail starts at the western edge of the small clearing. At the start of the hike you will immediately begin your continuous, but gradual climb. The path leads northwest, crossing a small bridge and will continue on a north-westerly path.
The trail takes you through a hemlock and hardwood forest. At about 1/4 mile the trail turns from northwest to southwest, continuing its climb.
You continue on the open and obvious trail changing direction multiple times, however there are no spur trails so the path is easy to follow.
In approximately another 1/4 mile, the trail turns sharply to the northwest. At approximately 1 mile you will come to a gently cascading brook and multiple make-shift camp areas. After traveling another .1 mile you will come to a junction with a trail from the north (right side). This is the Appalachian trail and will be your route to the summit.
At this junction turn left and head southwest. The trail is clearly marked and blazed white. The trail climbs steadily, and changes direction from southwest to due south. After gaining a couple hundred feet the trail flattens out and then starts to decend. The trail will continue to decend until it reaches Glen Brook.
At Glen Brook there are two shelters (Glenn Brook and Hemlock)available for overnight camping. Both shelters are lean-tos.
Continue across the brook, heading southwest, climbing gradually until you reach Guilder Pond (at 2 1/4 miles).
Guilder Pond, the highest natural body of water in the state, is a great resting spot before the final push to the summit. Take time to walk around the pond (approximately 1/4 mile). From the northern end of the pond the summit is in clear view. There are restrooms available. It should be noted that a road leads to this point of the trail and the pond may be crowded on weekends.
To continue on your hike, walk across the gravel road and head to the southern end of the parking lot. The Appalachian Trail is clearly marked. Follow the trail entering the hardwood forest. You will climb quickly, coming to the access road for a second time. Cross the road, and continue south for about 100'. The trail leaves the road and heads back into the woods. Continue to follow the white-blazed trail, winding around the head of the mountain until you reach the summit - USGS Marker.
At the summit you are rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding areas. On clear days the Gunks, Daks, Greylock and Mount Monadnock are visible.
The summit used to house the Mount Washington Fire Tower, but due to vandalism and liability concerns the never-used tower was removed and all that remains are the anchors. While on the summit take care not to disturb or damage the fragile, and rare, vegetation.
Return to your car following the same route in reverse. Be sure to locate the junction of the Elbow Trail, which will be to your right.
Essential GearSeasonal gear is recommended. Winter climbs may require crampons or snowshoes.
Water is always available but may be frozen if temperatures are consistantly below freezing.
The area is home to black bears and bobcats so any over night camping should take proper precautions in storing food.
Timber rattlesnakes are also prevelant in the area.