The Secrets of Mount Monadnock

Monadnock summit

New Hampshire is known for the beautiful rocky peaks in the White Mountains.  It is also home to the 3rd most hiked mountain in the world!  In the small town of Jaffrey, Mount Monadnock is a very popular hike.  It’s bare rocky peak is often filled with hikers on any summer weekend.  The park is open year round 365 days including Christmas!  Even in January on a wintery day, the headquarters’ parking lots were filling up quickly.  Though smaller than the 4,000 footers in the White Mountains, Monadnock’s 3,166 feet have a big mountain feel.  The  tricky sections on trails, above tree line exposure and a beautiful summit make for a great hike close to home for many.


So Many Secret Spots

Both Frank and I had hiked Monadnock a couple of times before, but this hike would be a different type of hike.  We were on a mission to find an elusive secret of Mt. Monadnock.  The mountain is known for being home to numerous hidden spots, with 10 or more located in the park.  Some of these spots are natural caves, one even rumored to have housed a spy for a bit!  The most intriguing of all and the goal of our hike was to locate a manmade shelter built in the 1900’s known as Pumpelly Cave (aka Megalithia).

Spy cave on Monadnock
Checking out spy cave!


Mysteries and Conspiracy

Of course I was intrigued by a secret cave that few could find!  After some internet research which only gave vague hints of the location, we set out to find the cave.  It seemed no one wanted us to find this mysterious spot.  Everyone we spoke to would not give us information.  Even our GPS failed, as if there was something interfering in the signal (conspiracy theories abound).

 Check out tips on how to stay safe on any hike

If at First You Don’t Succeed

On our first attempt at finding Megalithia we came up empty handed.  We were no strangers to repeating a hike for a goal though. Fortunately for us,  a friend had planned on hiking Monadnock and visiting the cave a couple weeks later.  She agreed to let us join on the hike as long as we did not reveal the secret location of the cave.  The cave is a well protected secret by all those that know its location.  Rangers in the park will not share any information.  Megalithia is off trail and rangers wouldn’t want anyone getting injured trying to find it.  Hikers also keep the location secret partially to keep the cave from being vandalized as it has been in the past.  Also the challenge of finding the cave is part of what makes the experience so special.  As many say- “getting there needs to be earned!”


Up We Go

With the buildup of Megalithia pre- hike we were ready to get up the mountain and see this mysterious spot for ourselves.  From the main parking lot we headed up the most popular trail- White Dot Trail.  The trail is fairly gradual and considered one of the easier trails on the mountain.  The trail still gains 1800 feet in elevation to the summit so easy is relative.  Despite it being winter in New Hampshire, the sun was shining brightly and the wind was low.  It was the perfect day for a hike.  From White Dot trail my memory gets fuzzy on the lefts and rights we took (that’s my story).  Of course I’m sworn to secrecy, so I cannot reveal which trails we took!

views of Monadnock

From what looked to be a random spot on trail we left the trail, and after about 10 minutes we were pushing through the trees.  Bushwhacking (hiking off trail) is not always easy.  As the name infers getting whacked by trees is not uncommon.  It was made all the more challenging, when we were then blindfolded so we wouldn’t be able to get back to the cave on our own.  Ok, I’m kidding but couldn’t resist!  Still the hike to Megalithia was challenging and I doubt I could even find my way again if I tried.


Sweet Success

I nearly walked over the cave, with the snow covering the metal roof it was nearly hidden.  On arrival those of us that had never been to the cave explored inside with excitement.  Inside was a small fireplace, it looked like this once was a cozy retreat.  A box housed a log book which we signed our names in, marking that we were part of a secret club of sorts.  The cave was built of rock and cement, some of the wall’s boulders were very large.  The unique triangular shaped door was my favorite.  A painted palm tree decorated the outside of the door, I’m sure it had a secret meaning unknown to me.  The inside of the door and the support for the roof were old wood logs.  It was a special place that you could feel the history and knew that the walls wanted to share the stories of the past.  We took in the last of the views and headed back to trail a little reluctant to leave such an interesting place.

Megalithia on Monadnock

Secrets of Mt. Monadnock- Megalithia

Peace sign on rock Mt. Monadnock


A Summit Bonus

Many of the group were ready to call it a day after seeing the cave, the goal was met.  The summit was so close though, it called to me.  Frank humored me and we went on with the group heading to the summit.  Despite the cold weather the winds were not too bad.  The 360 degree views were well worth the effort.  The bare rocks were coated in a thin layer of frosty ice, the sky was brilliantly blue and I was at home in the mountains!  Adventures don’t have to be big to be special.  I find the summit of any mountain is special and a great place to roar!

Check out some more of New Hampshire’s finest hikes!

Lincoln and Lafayette- a world famous loop hike!

The highly debated worst hike in New Hampshire

The beautiful Bonds backpack!

This blog was later featured in the Monadnock Ledger -Transcript newspaper

Monadnock summit

Summit of Monadnock- secret hike

Icy rock on Mt. Monadnock

Sun's rays end of day of Mt. Monadnock hike

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The Secrets of Mount Monadnock

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About Cathy

Cathy (aka “Wildcat”) is not your typical travel/adventurer. Whether it is traveling across the globe or exploring her beloved White Mountains of New Hampshire, this mother of 4’s curious nature has led her to find adventure everywhere she goes. Her blog was first started to chronicle the training and journey to the “Rooftop of Africa” – Mt. Kilimanjaro. Since that time, has expanded to highlight everything connected with the unique and fascinating adventures a Wildcat can find. She shares with her readers tips, advice, and encouragement to find their strength and inner “ROAR”.
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54 Comment

  1. Sarah says: Reply

    I am disappointed you won’t divulge your secrets! I ve been to Monadnock a number of high school, our coach made this the first unofficial practice of the season. Love to hike with are clearly more conditioned than I, but at the moment I ve got a kid in a carrier to bring along..I need a babysitter.
    Sarah recently posted…Taking the Easy Way up Mount WashingtonMy Profile

    1. I was sworn to secrecy:)

  2. I just love the idea of walking, just for the sake and simple reason of finding out what is there!

    Great post, amazing views from the top 🙂

    1. Thanks Derek, it was a fun local adventure:)

  3. Lauren says: Reply

    I love finding secret spots like this and imagining this who were there before me! Really interesting read 🙂 I’m glad you showed a picture too, looks awesome!
    Lauren recently posted…VIDEO POST | Camping In AustraliaMy Profile

    1. It was a fun adventure:)

  4. wow..this post took me back to the adventure stories i loved to read as a got me back to the mood…lovely post..its nice to find those secret caves…and you said…the summit of any mountain is really a lovely success to ROAR 🙂 Happy Travelling !!
    Bilna Sandeep recently posted…A buzzing Evening at the Kozhikode BeachMy Profile

    1. Roars to you:)

  5. Edwina says: Reply

    Awesome views! I don’t think I would have made it up there…
    Edwina recently posted…Five Photos That Will Make You Want To Go To Con DaoMy Profile

    1. After Kilimanjaro it is hard to give up on any peak:)

  6. I love a good hike and this looks like one I need to add to the list, although I may have to choose a different time of year – not sure I would want to hike it in the snow or with crampons on. I think I would prefer hiking this one in the summer months. Fantastic photos to motivate me to go though!

    1. Thank you Tamason, much less equipment needed in the warmer months:)

  7. I love the mystery surrounding your hike, it takes an adventure to a whole ‘nother level!
    Kevin Wagar recently posted…8 amazing experiences for kids in JordanMy Profile

    1. Thanks Kevin, got to keep even local travel interesting:)

  8. Linda says: Reply

    What a great story! You guys are amazing! 🙂

    1. Thank you- we like finding adventure:)

  9. Nice photos! Great Post!

    1. Thank you Tania!

  10. Love the adventure…though sad you cannot share the details!! I like the fact that you set out for an adventure and accomplished your mission. Great post and wonderful pictures!
    Rosemary recently posted…Discovering Peruvian Pisco Sour: The National CocktailMy Profile

    1. Thank you. I doubt I could give clear enough directions even if I could tell:)

  11. Great photos! This stocks makes me want to grab my hiking boots and get up there hit to find the secrets 🙂

    1. Thanks! It is a fun adventure, I highly recommend it:)

  12. Kaley says: Reply

    What lovely photos!! Thanks so much for sharing them with us! 😀
    Kaley recently posted…Top 10 Travel Photos (of all time!)My Profile

    1. Thank you Kaley! Roars to you!

  13. This mystery cave is intriguing! Glad you were able to find it 🙂

    Thanks for the fun post! I enjoyed reading!

    1. Thanks Jenna! It was a fun adventure:)

  14. Wow! I’ve never summited a mountain before. Came close one time but hiking is not my thing. I never regret it when I go with a group but its never been an activity I’d do without some coercing. It looks like you had a great time. Secrets secrets lol
    Tricia @ The Adventure List recently posted…The Ultimate “Bucket List” List – Part 2My Profile

    1. I must admit I’m addicted to hiking:) I can’t resist making it to the summit unless it is really dangerous. Hiking isn’t it for you- what is your go to activity?

  15. Betsy Wuebker says: Reply

    What a fun story! My imagination would be running wild with ideas about who actually lived in the cave and for what purpose. And, aren’t you glad you opted to summit?

    1. Thank you Betsy:) It was great to be on the summit!

  16. Wonderful post with the intrigue of the cave which makes it all so much more thrilling. I could actually feel the thrill and excitement of the hike through your writing and amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience.
    Voyager recently posted…A road trip to die for- Gangtok to Nathula at an altitude of 14,400 feetMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much! It was a great adventure I was excited to share, glad that came across in the words:)

  17. Emily says: Reply

    This looks like an amazing trek! Your photos are stunning! 🙂

    1. Thank you Emily:) It was a fun hike adding the secret caves!

  18. What an adventure! We hike often, but have small children and are therefore limited in how much we can explore. This hike and exploration would not be possible until the kiddos grow up.

    How long did it take you to complete the entire hike (finding the secret shelter, getting to the summit, and back to the main trail head)?

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. If we didn’t have someone showing us the cave we would have been wandering for hours- like our first attempt:) I didn’t look at the time because we were stopping to take photos and eat often. I’d guess about 5 hours total. I did this hike with kids a couple of times but not to the caves- it was a challenge for mine:)

      1. How did you find people to help? I guess we are a little wimpy, we have never gone off the trail…unless nature calls. 😉

        Hiking with kids definitely changes things. We go as far as we can, but keep in mind we are sharing an experience…that is the whole point of our hike when we are together. 🙂 Things before kids was a bit more about completing the hike and physical ability.

        1. Jessica I have many hiking friends that I knew would have an idea how to find the caves if they hadn’t all ready been to them. It took them a couple of hours wandering off trail to find the caves, I’m not sure I ever would have found them even after hours searching. Our first attempt came up empty handed. Going off trail isn’t for everyone, it can be easy to get lost – I prefer to go with experts:) Kids definitely changes the hike- I usually try to find them something interesting and make sure the hike isn’t too hard. Great snacks on the hike helps too:)

  19. Onesong says: Reply

    Took me a lot of digging and 3 trips before I found it. I’m so glad everyone whose been for the most part won’t divulge it’s location as that’s what is the biggest part of it’s charm.
    A true treasure hunt!

    1. I’ve heard of some people taking 20 trips to find it! I believe it- not easy!

  20. Onesong says: Reply

    Megalithia has a great history – especially the men who built it 100 years ago. One of them spent his honeymoon there and the other lived there for 6 months with his children when he lost his house.

    The secret latch for the door was a brilliant design. (No longer works 🙁 and old photos show the place was quite cozy at one time.

    I wrote an article about it in Iron & Air Magazine – but didn’t reveal anything about the location.

    1. Please share the link- I’m fascinated with the history! I hadn’t heard those stories in all my research.

  21. We had our hosts at Little River Bed and Breakfast in Peterborough to thank for our flying visit to Mount Monadnock… without them telling us we would never have had the pleasure in participating in their raptor migration tally! Hubby dines out on how he was first to spot a turkey vulture…

    We did drive, but maybe next time we’ll take our hiking boots!

    1. I’ve always wanted to see the raptor migration. That is at Pack Monadnock, also a beautiful hike. Bring your boots next time and enjoy New Hampshire’s beautiful hiking!

  22. Larry Pumpelly says: Reply

    Reading your blog has been fun. I have had a real interest in Megalithia, Pumpelly Cave. I am a Pumpelly and have done a lot of my family history. This has been a place I have wanted to find for years. Then last week my oldest son, Chad and I climbed Monadnock and found the cave. Awesome!! Now 67 years old it may be my last attempt. Thanks for your fun blog.

    1. What a great story!! I’m so glad you found it, I’m glad we had help from friends or it might have taken us another few tries. It is a special place. Age is just a number- hope to see you on the trails for years to come!

  23. Noel says: Reply

    Pretty neat to find the cave. I have been there a few times myself. I try to avoid going in the winter because I don’t want to leave tracks to it. It helps keep it a challenge and secret.

    1. The way we went it was easy to be misleading with our tracks:) It is definitely a challenge to find! Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Darlene says: Reply

    So happy to have you & Frank join me on my Birthday hike and Thanks for keeping your promise to not give the location away…!

    I am careful who I have join in on cave trips…it’s all about sharing with friends but Like I said, I like that you had already at least tried!

    Can’t wait until my next Birthday hike…

    1. Thank you for showing us the secrets of Mt. Monadnock! It was great to join you on a fun birthday adventure!

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