While technically not the Whites, this is still a New England 4K and I figured other would like it...
Monroe Trail - Long Trail
Distance: 7.23 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,789 ft. (overall) 2,913 ft. (total)
Time: 3:15 (Summit) 5:17 (Total)
The summer trailhead was still deep under snow with about a 3 foot tall snowbank at the end of the road. The winter lot has room for about a half dozen or so cars (parked well) and maybe some room if you follow the upper path (didn't check it out). After reaching the summer trail head, I put on my snowshoes expecting today's sun and warm temps (near 60) to make things soft. The early going was easy and could have certainly been done with bare boots (as another hiker was doing). The trail heads through open hardwoods and was quite easy to follow. The gradual incline makes for easy going and a nice warm up to the hike.
Early portion of trail
The trail slowly turns to the right after a ways and soon comes to the Dean Trail heading left. This was potentially going to be my route down, but having never been here before, the lack of recent tracks made me possibly rethink that idea. Continuing up the Monroe Trail, the gain is still gradual but the trail occasionally goes across a bit of a side hill. This seemed to be worse due to some skiers using the trail and wiping out much of the snowshoe track. Soon the cliffs start to come into view with some impressive views of them ahead. For now, the trail heads straight to them.
Hard to get a pic of the cliffs without trees in the way
Near the base of the cliffs, the trail turns left and follows the bottom edge slowly entering into the softwoods. It's still a steady climb until you start to turn right to head back above the cliffs. It gets a little steeper in here at times, but still not too difficult. Just as I was thinking I must be getting close to the Alpine Trail (it seemed like it had been a good distance since the last intersection), the trail leveled out some and I saw the sign for it.
Above the cliffs now
From here the trail went back to the steepness it had in the beginning with a few short climbs. Some spots were even quite level. This was a nice break and an enjoyable section (even with melting snow/ice on the trees getting things a little wet). Before long you come out to the hut clearing at the Long Trail. This nice little clearing gave a good view of the northern side of the summit.
With the Burrows Trail coming in from the west here as well, there are many trails junctions/openings. I'm glad someone had cleared snow from in front of the sign leading to the summit since I never did see one for the Burrows Trail and it could have been confusing. The snow here was still as deep as the trail sign.
The sign dugout so you can see it
After a brief break and a snack, I talked with another hiker before heading up to the summit. The trail is probably the steepest here leaving the clearing, but it was only for a brief stretch. Soon I was coming out of the trees and I got my first glimpse of the views to the west. While I know from maps Lake Champlain is big (I've never been there), I have to admit this view gave a whole new perspective about how big it is. It takes up a lot of the view to the west. The trail continues to work along the side of the summit cone near the edge of the trees before turning left for the last push. It was a short walk to the summit and the 360 degree views.
At the summit, the temperature was only 20 degrees. The wind was blowing an average of 16 mph with gusts at 25 mph making for wind chills near 6 degrees. I was glad I had multiple layers to wear up here (something I believe many hikers I saw later didn't have). With some extra clothing, I was ready to take in all the views and grab some photos. After spending at least 45 minutes on the summit (mostly alone since other didn't stay long), I headed back down the mountain the way I came up. Opting not to try to find the Dean Trail and the proper route leaving the summit in that direction with the minimal tracks to follow and familiarity with the area.
View north of Mansfield
The Adirondacks to the west
Miles getting a cold butt while enjoying the sun
Impressive snow everywhere near the summit today
Heading back down
The hike back down when quick and I quickly took most of my layers back off. I saw multiple small groups of other hikers now heading up. Most of which didn't have snowshoes or much for cold weather clothing (so it appeared). Luckily today, the trail was still staying hard even with the many bare booters and warm temps. I was surprised how it seemed as if there was a very solid layer just under the top surface of the snow all day.
Back down lower, the trail was staying pretty firm
All in all, this was a great hike. I admit I missed one of my niece?s first birthday party, but as I told her parents, I would have missed my own birthday for hiking conditions and views this nice.
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE