The Marlboro Trail is not as well known as the primary trails on Monadnock - the White Arrow and White Dot. But it is at least as scenic, and offers a wide variety of views and terrain.
The start of the trail is a comfortable warm up, starting from a small parking lot at the end of a moderately rugged dirt road.
After passing through a variety of "ghost fields" whose only remains are stone walls, now filled with trees, and a crossing road, now disused, the trail suddenly steepens and becomes rocky. By this point, you've had enough time to warm up to the steepness, so you will probably have no trouble.
The steepness gets more aggressive and the rocks become more broken just below the treeline.
Emergence above treeline is staged through a couple of clearings and then up a steep rise onto a shallow slab that finally produces the first of many exciting and beautiful views.
A notable feature on this first slab is a giant split in one section of the slab which is bridged by some krummholz to become a potentially sheltering cave, at least in snowy conditions (runoff might make it uninhabitable in rain).
The trail threads more conifer groves and eventually begins to climb quite steeply over rounded and broken granite open to the sky with spectacular views. It eventually emerges on the summit plateau, where it eases to near horizontal.
From here, the trail weaves among the typical, beautiful and stark rounded granite folds. Some of these folds intersect with complex geometries, trapping water into brilliantly reflective pools. The water is often still, even when the wind is whipping the hiker with tens of miles an hour of force, and there is also often some pretty grasses and alpine plants.
Some ponds are full, some are empty with just a trace of algae in the dirt.
From here the trail passes into increasingly desolate and alien territory. But the summit is clearly visible (and usually crowded).
On a windy day, the best spot for a rest, view and lunch before descent will be some distance below the summit. Enjoy the stop and the view before begininng the rugged descent.
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