Located in the southern Presidential Range of New Hampshire's White Mountains, Mt. Monroe is sometimes overlooked since it sits in the shadow of the massive summit of Mt. Washington. This peak offers many of the same challenges as its legendary northern neighbor --the routes to their summit cones are essentially the same and the weather can be fierce. Once climbers reach the summit of Mt. Monroe, however, they are rewarded with breathtaking views, without the carnival atmosphere of Mt. Washington's train station, museum, gift shop, restaurants, parking lot and weather observatory. In fact, many seasoned White Mountain trekkers bypass Washington's touristy summit altogether in favor of Monroe or the challenging peaks of the northern Presidentials. Mt. Monroe is situated well above timberline and is home to incredible displays of wildflowers, including the Robbin's Cinquefoil --indiginous only to the area surrounding this peak.
To reach the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trailhead, take US 302 north of Crawford Notch to Mt. Clinton Rd. (right off of 302). Take this road to Base Road and turn right (east) and go 1.1 miles to the trailhead parking area. Note: this route no longer begins at the Mt. Washington Cog Railway Station and climbers who wish to start their attempt from this historic site will need to pay a parking fee. Alternate routes to Mt. Monroe begin at Crawford Notch on US 302 and from the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center on NH 16.
A White Mountains National Forest Parking Permit is required at all trailhead parking areas. Permits cost $5 per day or $20 annually and can be purchased at the AMC Crawford Notch and Pinkham Notch visitors Centers. Most Trail heads also have a self pay/register Kiosk.
The Base Road is closed during winter, so the Ammonoosuc Ravine route is only availabe in April through October.
Camping restrictions are described below.
When To Climb
Mt. Monroe is generally climbed in April through October. Wildflower displays are at their peak during late June and July. Those climbing this peak during May through mid-June should be aware Black Flies will be particularly bothersome during the approach hike. Only climbers with significant ice climbing and avalanche avoidance experience should attempt to summit this peak during the winter months. The extreme conditions in the alpine zone of the Presidential range present a significant risk factor all year long, but they are notoriously fierce during the winter.
The entire Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is in a USFS "Forest Protection Area" which means that no camping is allowed within 200 feet of the trail. In any case, the terrain is steep and rocky and good camping spots are few and far between. Camping is also prohibited in the areas around the Tuckman's Ravine, Lions Head and Boot Spur Trails --with the exception of the Hermit Lakes Shelters & tent pads operated by the AMC. Reservations are necessary and can be made at the number below. Additionally, no camping is allowed anywhere above treeline in the WMNF, except during winter. The AMC Lakes of the Clouds Hut, sitting just above treeline at the base of Mt. Monroe offers an appealling alternative. The hut provides superb high energy meals, blankets and bunkhouse style sleeping accomodations. The facility also has a naturalist on staff to provide information about the alpine zone's fragile environment. The hut, which operates from Memorial Day through Labor Day, also sells soup and hot drinks for day hikers passing through and there is a refuge room that is kept unlocked during the winter to provide emercency shelter. A stay at this hut gives climbers an opportunity to experience truly magnificent sunrises and sunsets (on rare clear days) from the summit of Mt. Monroe. Reservations are nearly always a must: (603) 466-2727.
Weather on Mt. Monroe
The climb from the Lakes of the Clouds is above treeline and exposed to extreme weather conditions that rival those on Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe's notorious northern neighbor. Sustained winds of over 100 miles per hour are not uncommon and freezing temperatures, sleet and snow can occur during any month of the year. As with any peak above timberline, there is always the potential for lightning strikes as well. Temperatures below 40 degrees combined with driving rain are common during the summer --presenting a high risk for hypothermia. Simply put, when climbers reach treeline and the weather is bad, even seasoned alpinists should not attempt to reach this summit.
The Appalachian Mountain club's website: www.outdoors.org has bulletin boards that discuss current mountain conditions throughout the year. This site also offers a link to the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory which offers live information about current conditions on that peak. Conditions on the summit of Mount Monroe are generally similar to those on Mt. Washington.
During the winter and spring, the National Forest Service posts current avalanche risk information at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visotors Center and the Tuckermans and Huntington Ravines website: www.tuckermans.org