Small is beautiful

View of Monadnock from the summit of South Pack

Sometimes smaller is better.

Monadnock is an excellent springtime mountain. Its trails tend to be snow-free by mid- to late April, making it ideal for a warmup hike before tackling the taller peaks in the White Mountains. Trouble is, as one of the most hiked mountains in the world, it’s often as busy as the DMV on a Friday afternoon.

So last weekend, I headed for the smaller mountains across the way and ended up with a great hike. At about 2,200 feet apiece, North and South Pack Monadnock would never be confused with mountains like Adams or Washington.

Good decision.

At about 8 miles and 2,200 feet of climbing, the Pack Monadnock loop rivaled some of the better hikes farther north. The Wapack and Cliff trails were dry — at least by mud season standards — and free of the highway-like atmosphere of the more popular Grand Monadnock. It was quiet enough that I walked into the middle of a small group of deer in the col between the two mountains.

The views, while excellent, don’t rival the White Mountains — there’s no sense of being enveloped by wilderness when you’re at the summit, and South Pack actually has an auto road to the top. Thankfully, it wasn’t open — I’d imagine it will be quite a bit busier in the summer.

Still, it was a great, crowd-free hike on a pair of small mountains.

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