OverviewThe Marlboro trail offers a very relative kind of solitude, for those who like Monadnock but seek some relief from the crowds on the southeastern slopes.
A bit under two miles (one way) and under 2000 feet of gain.
ApproachFrom Jaffrey Center (intersection of rtes 202 and 124),
head west on rte 124.
Continue 7.1 miles:
[Warning: the speed limit on this section of 124 changes repeatedly between 40mph and 30mph; the Jaffrey police like to set speed traps here.]
-past Dublin Rd and the big sign pointing to the right toward the main entrance to the state park;
-past the signs for parking for Old Toll Rd (a.k.a. Halfway House Rd) on the right (The trailhead for a southern approach to, eg, the White Arrow Trail) at 5 miles;
-cross part of Perkins Pond on a causeway at 6.5 miles;
Take a right on Shaker Farm Rd.
Proceed ~1 mi to trailhead parking.
Note: the parking area is closed in winter, as is the northern half of Shaker Farm Rd. Residents of a house near the parking lot keep the road plowed to within a quarter mile of the trailhead, but finding a place to park in winter can be difficult.
I don't know whether a parking fee is charged in season. The lot is outside the borders of the state park, but seems to be maintained by the park service.
The trail heads basically easterly. It's nearly flat at first, but then climbs rather steeply up to some open ledges. At that point it veers northward, going back under the trees for some more fairly steep climbing before gaining the exposed ridge that extends westward from the summit.
The trail is wide and well-travelled. Most blazes are painted on the rocks, so in winter you'll have to rely on some small cairns. However, you'll have good odds of being able to follow somebody's footprints.
Essential GearNothing special - crampons or snowshoes in season. Trail is usually well-packed so snowshoes are usually needed only the morning after a heavy snowfall.
Bring water as there are no significant streams along the route.