View Full Version : solitude

09-25-2005, 04:04 PM
Are the mountains getting overrun with hikers? Can you ever climb, Lafayette, Katahdin or Marcy and have some solitude? I was wondering which summits, have you enjoyed either by yourself or only shared with members of your own group. If you have a summit that you enjoyed by yourself, could you tell me your experience, what day of the week, time and weather conditions. I will start by saying I hear so many folks on these boards saying they always have crowds or at least some others to share a summit with and you have to go early in the AM or at dusk or mid-week to get a solitary summit experience. I was quite surprised by having Abraham in Maine for myself. I found the spur trail from the AT and the summit to be a fantastic summit experience. Saw noobody else for the 3.4 miles including the summit and said "WOW!" this is great. I was there on a beautiful 70 degree afternoon from 2:30-3:30 PM on Tuesday, August 23, 2005. I have got this beautiful, open, exposed, above treeline summit for myself. Is this rare?

post'r boy
09-25-2005, 04:14 PM
i had all of the above summits to myself until i ran into a guy from warwick ny!!! ;) ;) :D :D ;)

09-25-2005, 04:25 PM
Well, they aint big, but 2 places we had all to ourselves were North Pawtuckaway Mt. on a sunny Saturday this past summer. Not a soul around till we got down to the boulder field.....even then there were few people. And the other was Oak Hill in Concord. All alone for about 10 or 15 minutes till some ladies on horses appeared.

As for "big guys" we were alone on Jackson for about 15 or 20 minutes till a couple of gals from Boston appeared. But then again it was rainy and the prezzies were socked in, so Im sure that had something to do about it.


09-25-2005, 04:44 PM
I took my son and his girlfriend up Chorcorua on a weekday, the first week of this past August. The parking lot at the liberty trailhead was nearly full when we pulled in.
When we got up to the ledges you could see a storm rolling in from the west.
On the cone it looked like rats jumping ship. It seemed to me as if the rain would miss us so we kept on.
When we hit the summit we were alone. It poured on us for less then five minutes then it was back to clear skies, bright sunshine.
The next batch of hikers showed up around fifteen minutes later

09-25-2005, 05:07 PM
Can you ever climb, Lafayette, Katahdin or Marcy and have some solitude?

Easy, climb in the winter!

09-25-2005, 05:12 PM
well, as I noted in my Baxter trip report, I had Hamlin and North Brother completely to myself. Last weekend, Poison Ivy and I were the only ones on Mendon, and I went to Pico by myself. I finished the 48 last year on Cabot and there was no one around. I've also had Abraham, Ellen, South Horn, Monroe, Cannon, Passaconaway, Jackson and East Pond all to myself. I don't remember the exact times on most of these, it was sometime between sun-up and sun-down. :D

Solitude is out there, you just have to stay away from the more popular places.

09-25-2005, 05:21 PM
Almost any one of the trailless lower 54 peaks of the ADK Hundred Highest. Many don't get more that a few visitors during an entire year.

Of "major" peaks in NY, I've had Dix to myself in the fog and mist. Same conditions on Mt Marcy. We've had Marcy, Dix, Giant, Algonquin, Skylight, Haystack and many, many more all to our lonesomes during the winter.

Had Bondcliff to myself for 3 hours one gorgeous summer day. Just me and a flotilla of ravens doing acrobatics(the ravens, not me). Same on Saddleback and the Horn and other peaks in the lake area.

Interesting topic.


09-25-2005, 05:29 PM
In the Adirondacks, I think it goes without saying that mountains such as these are going to be crowded on a nice summer weekend, and probably most other summer days as well. Some thoughts about finding solitude on popular peaks:

1. go on a weekday
2. plan to arrive later in the day and avoid the lunch crowd (might need to camp)
3. camp and start hiking before sunrise and plan to arrive at summit early AM.
4. hike after labor day.
5. hike in the winter (requires specific expertise)
6. consider alternative mountains. (example: I think it's nicer to be on Skylight looking at Marcy, rather than the other way around).

09-25-2005, 05:52 PM
rhihn]1. go on a weekday
2. plan to arrive later in the day and avoid the lunch crowd (might need to camp)
3. camp and start hiking before sunrise and plan to arrive at summit early AM.
4. hike after labor day.
5. hike in the winter (requires specific expertise)
6. consider alternative mountains. (example: I think it's nicer to be on Skylight looking at Marcy, rather than the other way around).[/QUOTE]

Agree w rhihn. Most important I think are #1,4,5 and 6. Winter is the best insurance IMHO.

09-25-2005, 06:26 PM
Most summits CAN be enjoyed in solitude. You just have to get there FIRST that day.
Starting in the predawn light and you're not only going to be first on the summit, there's a lot more wildlife to see.

09-25-2005, 07:08 PM
I have had MANY summits either to myself or with just those I hiked in with. The best one I can think of immediately is Camel's Hump when I was hiking the Long Trail last summer. All my partners had left by then and I got a pre-dawn start from the shelter just south of the summit. Sat at the summit on a crisp, CLEAR, gorgeous late summer morning and ate my breakfast for almost an hour and didn't see another soul till I had been hiking north off the mountain summit for about 90 minutes.

I have also been alone or with my group on Abraham, Ellen, and Mansfield in VT also during my LT hike. . .

In Maine, myself alone or just my group on all the 4000-footers except North Brother.

And in NH, the list for the summits I have had alone or with my group is longer than the ones I have shared with others so I have had them ALL alone EXCEPT:

Washington, Moosilauke, Tom, South Kinsman, Carrigain, Wildcat, both Hancocks, and Hale.

I have 2 tricks:
I start EARLY and/or I hike in winter.

If you want a summit to yourself, there is a way to get it. But in general I am not bothered by other people, if I want true solitude, I hike something not on a list and that tends to help. The most solitude I have ever had is on the Northville Placid Trail, give that a try, particularly as a thru-hike.


09-25-2005, 07:14 PM
Another vote for the early start...
This can be crazy early (I have started as early as 2:30am) or even regular early...say, 6:30-7am. Most people will just not get to a trailhead that early.
My favorite examples of this were last fall (both hikes were on weekends)...I started on the Caps Ridge Trail at 6:45am and did not cross paths with another hiker until after I summited, came over the Monticello lawn and was descending the Caps again...from there down I saw between 15-20 people all on their way up...very similar experience on Lafayette and Lincoln...saw dozens of folks, but not until around noon, well after I summited Lafayette and was on my way to Lincoln. Get up and start early!

09-25-2005, 07:19 PM
Solice on these summits:

1. Algonquin, a sunny clear lunch by myself on a Tuesday.
2. Hurricane on a friday afternoon.
3. Dix, not sure what day it was but also a weekday.
4. West Peak and Avery Peaks on the Bigelow Range in Maine, sunny weekdays!

I think the key to solitary summits is to hike on a weekday.


09-25-2005, 07:22 PM
Had Bondcliff to myself for 3 hours one gorgeous summer day.

I'm very jealous.

...from there down I saw between 15020 people all on their way up...

how did all those people fit on the summit? :eek: :D

Mark Schaefer
09-25-2005, 07:24 PM
I solo hike most of the time, and hike mid-week often due to irregular work weeks, so I have summits to myself a lot. I have had each of the 35 Catskill 3500 peaks to myself at least once, and the same is true for about half of the Adirondack 46. I also agree that early morning starts or late afternoon visits are the best plan if you cannot go midweek. For most 3Ks and 2Ks -- well just about anytime will do. :)

09-25-2005, 07:28 PM
If you don't want a peak that has few people, go to a trail with normally fewer people like the Shoal Pond trail, or Stillwater area in the Pemi. As for mtns, I agree that hiking early is important. My trip yesterday traveresed the Willeys then down the AZ trail and out the Ethan Pond trail (long day...). We started at 630 am and didnt see anyone till descending halfway off Field at around 1030 am. Then we saw a few near Zealand Hut. Then two others near the end of the trip who had just summited Willey as number 48. All in all, 17+ miles and 8 people, not bad.

09-25-2005, 07:31 PM
The previously mentioned very early or very late work for me. By far my favorite was Katahdin:

I'd been volunteering for a week with a crew doing some rock work near the top of Cathedral Trail. We spent evenings at Chimney Pond. Now normally, the crew climbed and descended via the Saddle Trail, but I'm so fond of the Knife Edge that I persuaded our leader to allow me to return by this other route.
When we wrapped up for the day at about 5 PM, the crew started toward the saddle and I headed the opposite direction: to the summit. At the start of my ascent, I spotted the last few summit stragglers turning away. By the time I'd reached the big cairn on top, the trail crew was starting down saddle. Nobody else was in sight. I had the summit -- my favorite -- all to myself! I sang, I giggled, I "prayed" to Pamola, the guardian/god of the "Greatest Mountain." Then started toward the Knife Edge.
For a while, the breeze became stiff, a cloud came over, temperature seemed to drop. I thought how uncomfortable the descent would be if rain came in. The narrow edge -- cliff on both sides -- could be hazardous, especially if the wind became too gusty. Crossing the slope of wet boulders furthur down, alone in the evening, is no laughing matter. But this threat passed and I continued my euphoric traverse.
Somewhere between Baxter Peak and Pamola Peak, I lost sight of the trail crew. With no people at all in view, somehow my ecstatic mood rose even further. The solo descent was without incident otherwise. It was a small let-down when, near the campsite I heard voices.
I still get thrills from the memory.

09-25-2005, 07:41 PM
Plenty of solitude this summer on Carter Dome, Tom, both Hancocks, Monroe and Tecumseh. All were hiked mid-week.


09-25-2005, 07:43 PM
The more I explore Maine, the more I find out how true that is about the uncrowded peaks. Pretty darn cool. But there are many gems in the Whites and Dacks where one can find solitidue. They might not be 4k'ers, but so what? One thing I think that's cool about the Catskills in NY is aside from Wittenburg-Cornell-Slide... the park tends to get overlooked big time by the masses. :D

Doc McPeak
09-25-2005, 07:50 PM
Just did the Santanonis for my 46 Solo round. A Thursday and Friday and never saw another soul on all three, or on the trails until I was leaving and was on the lower Santanoni Brook.

For the ADKS:
Midweek, non winter:

Big Slide
Rocky Peak Ridge
Marcy** (3 times, including my 46th alone for an hour and a half)
Upper Wolfjaw*
Lower Wolfjaw**
(*= multiple empty summits awaiting me)

Actually a good handful of those have been on the weekends. Winter almost doubles the list.

I've only been chipping away lightly at the Whites but have had great Mid-week luck there, including:

Field (on the return trip form Willey)
West Bond
North Twin
Lafayette (cleared out while we were up there, then walked the entire Franconia Ridge never seeing another soul until the Liberty Site)
East Osceola
Osceola (for a bit)
South Hancock


Camel's Hump

Occasionally it is the early start that does it, more often it is being able to shoot up mid-week when the weather gods make it irresistable. So I've had great late start luck as a result. For NH I've just lucked out I guess, especially Franconia Ridge late afternoon, mid-week in early September, views to New York with the sunscreen on, shorts and tees ... and I still haven't been able to wipe the grin off my face.

09-25-2005, 07:59 PM
1/4 of my name is, I sweep the cobwebs off the trail by starting early and being the first on the trail. Most of my multipuly climbed peaks include one planned to be alone on top.

Katahdin was my favorite. But you scariface the view most of the time. A lot of times the fog has bruned off yet.

king tut
09-25-2005, 08:10 PM
Most of the times i hike, there is lots of solitude. When i hiked on thursday in Baxter, in 8 hours, i saw 0 other people. Usually when i hike katahdin, i am alone when i get to the top of Baxter. Maybe because it is about 9 in the morning. The only peak i have never had solitude on is washington. and cadillac in acadia. so as long as there is not a road to the top of the mt, it generally is real quiet on top. The only other peak i have come across that was crowded was camel's hump. But it didn't bother me. I enjoy seeing lots of people outdoors taking in the beauty.

09-25-2005, 08:29 PM
I think I have had more peaks to myself than have had to share. I don't mind sharing, as most people keep to themselves. Occasionally you get the cell phone yakker...

09-25-2005, 08:40 PM
I do most of my hiking in the Adirondacks, and what I've found is that even on a holiday weekend, I can find solitude on a beautiful summit if I choose the peak. Or, I can be alone on Marcy, Algonquin, etc. if I choose the day. But in my opinion, too many people have the expectation that they should be able to climb the mountain of their choice, on the day of their choice, and be the only ones up there. That's just not realistic. And, for myself, solitude is important at times, but it's not the primary reason I'm out there. It's to do the things I love in the setting I love and I really don't mind sharing that experience with other people. You meet some nice folks that way...

09-25-2005, 09:05 PM
I often hike solo. I am not sure why I often have summits to myself. I do hike in the winter a lot so that helps. I've been on the summit of some of the most popular mountains all by myself (more than once).

Adams - 3 maybe more times (winter). Have hiked several other times summer and winter with company on the summit.

Madison - 1 (winter) hiked several other times summer and winter with company.

Hale - 1 - 1st 4000 footer (summer)

Chocorua - 1 (this past winter, very windy and cold -10ish when summit)

Carters (all same day) - 1 (winter) Summited in extremely icey conditions.

Passaconway - 3 (summer)

Whiteface - 3 (summer)

That is at least what I can remember for sure. Passaconway & Whiteface I summited in a small group during trail crew work. Hale was with 1 other person. The others where all summited solo.

There are often chances to be or feel "alone" in this world in winter. Winter hiking for me has been a great challenge of my personal skills. It has also been a way for me to get away from everything and everyone. I've been alone while hiking in the winter more than seeing others. Good luck finding solitude!

09-25-2005, 09:34 PM
You know, post'r boy's posts are sometimes a bit too sarcastic for me, but on this topic, I think he's right on the money.

I love company on the trail and on the summit. People are fun!

And if I want solitude, it's easy to get, just by going to less popular places, or off trail. I, or my party, have been to the most gorgeous places only an hour from the trailheads in the Adirondacks, with no one else around. Just takes learning how to navigate. The trails are skinny, but the woods are huge.

But regarding "going to a popular place and wanting soitude there," that's either irrational or elitist. After all, what makes me so special, that the summit of "___" should be reserved just for me?


09-25-2005, 09:54 PM
One thing I think that's cool about the Catskills in NY is aside from Wittenburg-Cornell-Slide... the park tends to get overlooked big time by the masses. :D

What Catskill Park? I have no idea what you're talking about. :D

I'm yet another one who often enjoys solitude, but doesn't insist on it. I've also had luck w/ all the obvious stuff that's been mentioned- early starts, winter, going mid-week, etc. I think sometimes it's nice to have some time alone when I take a short evening hike after work. My after work hikes are always in the Shawangunks, which are just 15 minutes away. One interesting thing about the 'Gunks is the dramatic contrast in usage levels of areas that are very close to one another. There are places where you can have solitude and even sort of get the illusion of wilderness for a while, then a quarter mile away you'll see lots of mountain bikers, trail-runners, "touristy" hikers, etc.


09-25-2005, 10:25 PM
This last trip of mine to Maine made me think of this subject. I usually hike with a group but even with in my group we were of such different paces that I wound up hiking by myself a good bit and two places which I thought would be far more popular I had complete solitude (Mt. Abraham & Tumledown Mountain & Pond). I couldn't believe we (my group) were able to go swimming with nobody around and enjoy the Loop Trail, summits all by ourselves. It was Friday, August 19 and 12:15 PM and the weather was warm and pretty and I hadn't seen another soul outside of my group and then on my way down the Brook Trail: Everyone was coming up kids, hikers, non-hikers, you name it a whole community was heading up for the afternoon or for the weekend. Boy I was glad I left Tumbledown Pond in time. It is amazing how a couple of hours could turn a pond of solitude into a community. But, I was amazed that it was my 3rd time at the Pond and my first when I didn't see anyone and this time was the best weather I experienced there. BTW, the blueberries were an added delight.

I consider myself a social person, but when I go to the mountains, I usually want to share it with a few friends although I wanted to clebrate my Catskill completion with many, so 23 friends showed up to celebrate on Westkill with me, but being a summer Thursday, we saw nobody on the hike aside form our group. So it wasn't crowded and even then we were so spread out some did not arrive at the summit when others already departed.

But I started this thread because I have read too many times, don't do the Fallingwaters/Lafayette Loop because of the crowds or this or that sumit is to crowded or noisy. So I figured lets here it for the Isolationists. I don't mind a few people but crowded summits ie. Washington, Katahdin, Lafayette & Marcy I figured you never would get solitude (maybe even Whiteface or Cannon or Killington). so I am glad there is quiet in them hills.

09-25-2005, 10:26 PM
I've had a few 4k footers to myself, but usually only briefly: Liberty, Garfield, and South Hancock. I had most of the day to myself when I hit the lower Montalban Ridge, including all of my summit time on Mt Stanton, Mt Pickering, Mt Langdon and The Crippies.

Anyone else have the summit of Monadnock to themselves? Me and a friend of mine had almost 10 whole minutes up there on a windy summer Wednesday with storms threatening - before two other pairs of people showed up :rolleyes:

09-26-2005, 04:30 AM
I have been alone on many of the summits several times, not necessarily on week days in February, but then, too. I remember being all alone on Marcy in June, Haystack several times alone. Alone on Whiteface in February. Esther, too, on that trip, but who would expect people there?

Although I usually get an early start, I found getting a late start on Sundays sometimes works even on popular peaks. The people I pass are on their way out, but for many years I never hiked the weekends. I don't like the irony of not being able to get "the wilderness experience" because I could not find a parking place.

Generally, I enjoy meeting people on the trail and summit and hearing their stories, but the solitude is precious.

09-26-2005, 05:49 AM
This is the reason why I like hiking the Catskills. They are underused when compared to the ADK or Whites. There are many times I have been all alone on a summit in the Cats. Even Slide and Panther on a nice summer day I have been alone many times.
I also enjoy the Kittatinny's like the Northern Water Gap, Stokes SF and High Point SP. They are in my backyard and very underused. I can be the first to break trail a month after a snowstorm or do a 10 mile loop and not see a sole even on a weekend. Seems like everyone would rather drive 3 hours every weekend to do the bigger peaks like the ADK and Whites. Rather than hike localy. Of course that is great for me, I am more of a local hiker. I hate to drive far to hike especially when I have so much close to home.

09-26-2005, 06:19 AM
But regarding "going to a popular place and wanting soitude there," that's either irrational or elitist. After all, what makes me so special, that the summit of "___" should be reserved just for me?


I don't think askus3 is irrational, elitist, or thinks any place should be reserved just for her. As others have stated, the most popular peaks are sometimes empty of hikers and it's really nice to have the perfect timing to be alone on a peak. She just wants pointers on timing.

I've been on Franconia Ridge in solitude twice. Once was a moonlit hike in July, and once on a beautiful Saturday in August when I started before sunrise.

On the morning hike, I saw two moose. The forest has a very special feel around that time. When I made treeline, I was treated to partial undercast and an orange Sun hanging low in the east. I enjoyed the ridge hike all the way to Mt. Lafayette before I saw a few hikers coming up from the hut. I then turned around and hiked the ridge back to the south. I rested on Mt. Lincoln and I could see the crowds thicken at both ends of the ridge. By the time I got back to Haystack, there were about 50 people! There were people talking on cell phones while hiking. The was a ranger stationed near treeline, barking at hikers to stay on the trail. :eek: What an enormous difference in atmosphere and spirit. I dashed for the trees and didn't slow down until I was out of earshot of the ranger. To clens myself, I entered the forest for a nice long bushwack back down the slopes.

Lately, I've taken to timing it for late afternoon if I'm going to a popular peak. I'll start in late morning and take my time on a quiet trail. Descending hikers will comment on the conditions. By the time I get to the peak I'm often the only one there, and the last one for the day. ;) Just don't try this on a day with t-storms in the forecast, that's when early morning is my choice.

Happy Trails!

09-26-2005, 06:44 AM
Based on some of the stories here, I suppose I should consider myself lucky, as I've had most of the NH 4000's to myself ("myself" being a minimum of, say, 20 minutes) - Pierce, Whiteface, Tecumseh, Passaconaway, Tecumseh, Hale, Flume, and Jefferson are a few off the top of my head. I usually start somewhat early on weekdays, at around 7:30 or so. Although as sweeper mentioned earlier, sometimes the fog hasn't burned off by the time you hit the summit, and by then you've been choking on spiderwebs.

Has anyone ever had the summit of Moosilauke to themselves? I've only been once, last October, and it was an absolute circus. A lady had set up her own office at the base of a cairn, and was chatting business on her cellphone nonstop for 45 minutes, which I found amusing. The only thing missing was her fax machine.

09-26-2005, 07:31 AM
Yes, to find the quiet solitude on a mountain top is getting more difficult these days. I find that getting a early start, 7:30 or earlier affords me the best chance of solitude. At the least, the people I run into at that hour seem to be early risers, like myself. I did have one of those peaceful hikes yesterday. We did Caps Ridge to Jefferson and Gulfside to Clay and down Jewell. We did not see or hear a single person until we reached Jewell Trail for our descent down. Jefferson and Clay we had to ourselves. We ran into a total of 3 groups and seven people over the whole day. Really was kinda nice. Weekday hikes I also find are more condusive to avoiding crowds, but then not everyone can get away on weekdays. On the other hand I did Mt Monadnock last Sunday as a last minute Sunday morning thing. The Spellman Trail was nice and I had it all to myself. About a 1/2 mile from the top I could already hear the screams and yells of what sounded like a thousand kids. There weren't quite that many, when I got there, but the noise was deafening. I thought I was at a school ground play yard at recess. I didn't spend much time on top. I got to wondering on the way down, if those same kids will someday want to hike for the solitude of it. Right now they have lot of growing up to do to reach that state, but then I was probably just like them at their age.

09-26-2005, 07:41 AM
I've never had this problem. When I hike in the WMNF it's always during the week and in the fall. With the exception of seeing 3 maybe 4 other people, I usually have the summit of wherever to myself. I guess the key is to go during the week after schools open.


09-26-2005, 07:42 AM
A slightly different take Ė is it solitude desired or just the absence of noisy, thoughtless, or overly competitive people? In the WMs, the people encountered on a particular hike can have a lot to do with achieving the feeling of solitude rather than actually having the day entirely to ourselves.

Case in point, the people on the Moriah summit on two different trips made for two vastly different experiences.

Good hike - This past Saturday we hiked over Moriah and Shelburne Moriah starting and ending at Wild River (Moriah Brook, Carter-Moriah, Kenduskeag, Shelburne Trails). We started at 6:30AM. Saw two moose but met no humans until reaching the Moriah summit at 10:45. Two women and a dog that had summited earlier were off to one side of the ledge. We rested on a different part of the ledge. The dog whined a little, obviously wanting to check us out, but being restrained, quickly settled down. Everyone was considerate of everyone elseís space. :)

Not-so-good hike - Our first trip to Moriah (via the C-M Trail from Gorham) included encountering a family who seemed to take over the entire summit. They allowed their dogs to roam freely, barking at and running up to everyone else on the summit ledges (so much for physical and verbal restraint). This family barely acknowledged that they were sharing the summit with the dozen or so others also there. One of their dogs repeatedly invaded peoplesí space and tried to take other hikersí food. Then the two boys boasted (looking directly at my son) about this being their 6th 4000-footer (some number I canít remember but under ten). My son was about to reply that he was about two thirds of the way through the list when we gave him a look that said ďdonít go thereĒ. We quickly packed up and headed down the C-M Trail only to be overtaken by this group about a half dozen times. They seemed hell-bent on getting off the mountain as fast as possible, but were clearly pushing their youngest member to her limit on the slippery ledges (she had fallen more than once and was crying) so they had to keep stopping. They would pass us and then stop, pass us and then stop. Each time they passed us and each time we passed them one of the dogs barked, growled and charged at us; we finally said something about restraining them, which went unacknowledged. After the last encounter near Mt. Surprise, we RAN the rest of the way down the trail to the car. Phew. :eek:

So, same mountain, two completely different experiences.

09-26-2005, 07:44 AM
Has anyone ever had the summit of Moosilauke to themselves? I've only been once, last October, and it was an absolute circus. A lady had set up her own office at the base of a cairn, and was chatting business on her cellphone nonstop for 45 minutes, which I found amusing. The only thing missing was her fax machine.

Talk about killing the purpose of hiking.

09-26-2005, 07:56 AM
There is a certain time of year you can find very few people in the Whites. It's post foliage, pre ski. This is around the late November, early December time period. I have found the summits and trails are quiet, the campgrounds are empty. You can drive through Lincoln without traffic or get yourself a quick seat on a Saturday night at the Woodstock Inn.. its really a perfect time of year.

09-26-2005, 08:09 AM
I guess I've been luckier then I realized.

I've actually had the top of Washington to myself. (well, I knew there were people in observatory, but since they stayed out of sight, it seemed like I was alone.) It was late June. We started hiking early and got to the top before the first cars or train arrived. I hike faster than my friends, so I had the top to myself before they caught up. It was a little spooky, almost like a ghost town.

Another time, my brother and I were the last two people on top of Washington after all the tourists have left. This was also in June, We started up in the late afternoon, and once we turned off toward the Huntington Ravine on the way up we didn't see anyone else except two climbers until after we had summited and hiked all the way back down below the crew cabin. Then we started running into crew heading "home" for the night with lanterns.

I've also had the top of Katahdin to myself on a beautiful clear Saturday morning in June. We stayed at Chimney Pond and started hiking at first light. We were almost back to Chimney Pond before we saw any other hikers!

09-26-2005, 08:13 AM

I'm sorry if my post was taken the wrong way (the dangers of posting!). :)

I think I reacted to the way askus3's post started, with the reference to the mountains being "overrun with hikers," and a desire to have solitude on some very popular summits. There's also been a lot of traffic on this forum over the last few years in various threads bemoaning how the presence of other people has "ruined someone's mountain experience."

Timing is important, and sometimes I've been lucky enough to have either solitude, or great company, on my travels. We should all remember that the public land belongs to all of us.



09-26-2005, 09:03 AM
I guess I've been very lucky (although my usual 6AM or earlier :eek: starts probably help) and had most if not every peak that I've hiked in the ADK's to myself at least once. I've been on top of Marcy and Algonquin more than once all alone. I sat on top of Iroqouis last winter for about a half hour and only saw the ranger the whole entire day! It took a little getting used to being around a large group of people 3 weeks ago when a friend and I did Gothics. I didn't realize how spoiled I had gotten (or consequently lucky i had been) until I found myself amazed at the fact that there was 5-10 people on the summit. I do try to avoid the "glamour" peaks like Marcy due to the fact that everyone and anyone will try them and I can't stand seeing how ill prepared many dayhikers are. For instance watching people ascend Marcy this past summer on a 90 degree day with 80-90% humidity and all they had was a bag lunch and liter of water!

Sleeping Giant
09-26-2005, 09:18 AM
Solitude is one of my primary reasons for hiking, so it's all done solo.

I have never found a problem finding that solitude in the Whites. I do try to avoid weekends and I always start a hike by 6 AM. With that minimal level of preparation, and by avoiding just a handful of heavily trekked trails, I never run into many (or any) people.

Example? A week ago Wednesday (9/14) - a beautiful sunny day with low wind - I left Appalachia and took the Howker Ridge trail to summit Madison, then proceeded to summit Adams and Jefferson, and then took a sequence of trails back to Appalachia for a pretty long day hike. I saw absolutely no one anywhere. Not a soul.

Obviously hiking mid-week helps. Since I'm able to do that (occasionally) there's no reason for me to head north on a busy summer or holiday weekend.

I actually think there are fewer people out hiking in general than say in the 60s and 70s. I often hike at Sleeping Giant state park in CT, which is 5 miles north of New Haven. There are about 40 miles of trails there over varying terrain. By avoiding just one trail, it's rare for me to run into anyone else at any time of year, any time of day. Now that's at a place right in the middle of megalopolis with probably 15 million people within a 2 hour drive. I never cease to be amazed at how few people actually get out in the woods. I guess a lot of people's lives are fractured these days by kids' events, the internet, work, etc. to a greater degree than it used to be. But I'm not complaining.

09-26-2005, 09:45 AM
Has anyone ever had the summit of Moosilauke to themselves? I've only been once, last October, and it was an absolute circus.
I've actually never seen anyone else on top of Moosilauke when I've gone (4 or 5 times). My profile pic there is from Moosilauke's summit in June of '97.
The best time for solitude, as people have stated, is winter and weekdays. Me and my brother had Lafayette to ourselves once--when it was snowing, minus fifteen, and howling winds in December. Go figure.
I think my favorite place in the wintertime, especially compared to its summer crowds, is Lonesome Lake. When it's frozen and quiet and gray, with Franconia rising behind it... I haven't found a better place (although there are some great candidates for 2nd place!).

the starchild
09-26-2005, 09:57 AM
last monday i left crag camp, summited and hung out for an hour or so, hiked down star lake trail, chilled at the pond, got water at the hut and hiked down valley way to appalachia. I saw people at the hut and one guy on star lake trail. no one else!!! an amazing day with supersweet weather to have the mtns to myself.
trip report and photos coming soon!!!

09-26-2005, 10:04 AM
Yes, Moosilauke many times. You may have been there on some special Dartmouth "bonding" weekend which occurs occasionally, like their incoming freshman med students and their familes.

Kevin, now that I recall, I think you're right. Looking back through my notes, I went on a Friday in early October, and I did see a lot of Dartmouth sweatshirts. Plus, I think there were a few buses of elementary-school kids on a field trip that day. A gentleman at the top told me it was like that every time he visited Moosilauke.

09-26-2005, 10:06 AM
EARLY, I have enjoyed many summits solo by leaving trailhead at 6:30 or so. Much good advice above. One hint on Franconia Ridge/Lafayette- I do Bridal path first- get to the hut by 8:30 or 9 - hut people are already gone and people coming up Falling waters are not there yet-I have had 30 minutes solo several times on Lafayette. The down side is you hit heavy traffic the first mile or so going down Little Haystack.Good luck and have fun!

The Sikes
09-26-2005, 10:08 AM
I have had a good many of them, too many to list. We haven't had Macy, Lafayette or Katadin but we did have Hamlin. When we were doing Maine, NH and Vermont, we did alot of them during the week and most of the hikes, I wouldn't see anyone.

09-26-2005, 11:38 AM
I've had the summit of every NH4K to myself at one time or another. Many times I have soloed a peak and have seen no one all day, even on weekends. It's all about timing. One occasion I had climbed the Falling Waters-OBP Loop and the only people I saw were some people around the Hut. From the Hut to the parking lot I had OBP to myself. That's not a likely occurrence no matter when you hike. When I recently did my Presi Traverse with Isolation hike, I had 6 of the 9 4K summits to myself and lots of solitude in between. I've had the Bonds all to myself, not just the summits but all the trails in between.

Solitude is like wildlife. It's out there waiting for you. If you stalk it right, you'll find it.


09-26-2005, 11:45 AM
Iíve hiked the MacIntyre Range one rainy Saturday in September and didnít see a single person from the junction with the Van Ho trail until I got to Marcy Dam after hiking through Avalanche Pass.

Both times I went up Haystack I had the summit to myself. Both times were on warm sunny weekend days. One of which was on July 4th.

Colvin & Blake I had to myself. Same with all of the Dixes except Macomb; I have climbed that one yet. Iíve also had Gray, the Santanoni Range, and Big Slide to myself. Maybe Iím just lucky.

I think itís also possible to find solitude even when there are people on the summits. When I hiked up Whiteface, there were at least 50 people on the summit; most had taken the auto road up. I went down a small ledge and sat on a rock while I ate lunch. I sat there with Lake Placid at my feet and never saw or heard a soul for at least 20 minutes until I stood up an walked the 30 feet back to the summit.

09-26-2005, 12:29 PM
Blue Hills - Sunny summer saturday - no one else, not even in the tower. Now thats actually kinda sad.

09-26-2005, 12:33 PM
In my experiences, the best bet is going on a weekday. Especially Mondays.

Also, starting later is a good idea, too (like noon-ish). You may see a lot of people coming down as your going up, but by the time you hit the summit, it's like 4:00-5:00, and there's a good chance you'll be the last one up for the day. That's worked for me on Madison, Webster Cliff, Osceola, and a few others.

One time I had too much solitude. I did a Kilkenny traverse from South Pond all the way out to Jefferson.....3 days / 2 nights. Saw NO ONE the whole trip. I was pretty lonely, and jonesing for some human contact by the end of the second day.

09-26-2005, 01:01 PM
One time I had too much solitude. I did a Kilkenny traverse from South Pond all the way out to Jefferson.....3 days / 2 nights. Saw NO ONE the whole trip. I was pretty lonely, and jonesing for some human contact by the end of the second day.
That can be the downside, sometimes, of a little too much time by yourself, especially long nights in the winter or late fall.
I just did a backpack in Colorado where an avalanche had wiped out the main trail last winter so the only way in was a multi-day hike over two 12,000-foot passes. Needless to say, I didn't see too many people! After 4 or 5 nights of not setting up camp within miles of anybody, it was nice to come across a kindred spirit, eat a few wild raspberries together, and talk about our common experiences.

09-26-2005, 03:01 PM
I'm another hiker who finds solitude by getting a late start, especially in summer when the sun sets around 9 pm. Lately, I've been trying to time my hikes so I get to treeline (on the way down) around sunset and finish up by headlamp.

09-26-2005, 06:05 PM
SlowandSteady's post is perfect! I'm definately not a total loner. I like people, but there is a monumental difference between those in society who are still civil, and the rest. If people are respectful, that's wonderful. I had a great talk with a nice, smart, healthy young lady on Little Monroe on Saturday afternoon. Her dog, Chaucer, was even more respectful of others than most people. Very pleasant. I also chatted a bit with three ladies who have hiked together for decades. Really nice people. Made a stunningly beautiful Crawford Path hike even nicer. :)

Happy Trails!

09-26-2005, 07:08 PM
Some of my most memorable summits with solitude were true solos... the infamous Jefferson experience, my first sunset hike on Wildcat seeing Northern Lights and a fox, moonset and sunrise on Madison, and lounging in a sheltered spot on Adams. Other were shared with my chosen few... cocktail hour at the Cabot Cabin watching the sunset over a silent world during Bike Week, the bonus Bonds "take a hike" trip, seeing a watercolor wash of sunrise pink over the Franconia Ridge from the Owl's Head slide. Those are moments I treasure.

It's a bonus to score solitude on place like Lafayette and Moosilauke. Moosilauke took some doing -- hiking in 95+ degree temps with similar humidity levels.

Even when I haven't had the summit or trail to myself, I've been lucky enough to meet up with a few VFTT'er along the way and many other kind people. It was a rare day that I found myself sharing a summit with undesirables (they shall remain unmentioned lest I aggravate myself recalling a few bad encounters!)

Most of my hikes were (yet again) weekdays, usually late. In retrospect, I consider myself blessed to have been able to hike then. And looking forward to getting to do that yet again. :)

09-26-2005, 09:20 PM
Anyone else have the summit of Monadnock to themselves?

Yeah, I'd forgotten about that. Several years ago I started very early on a Sunday morning in autumn to hike the Mettacomet-Monadnock Trail. Two people who got there ahead of me were descending on another trail just as I reached the top. On the way down though, I must have passed a hundred going up.

09-27-2005, 06:14 AM
Bird and I had our moment of solitude in the Whites in the Northern Presis 2 weeks ago!!...it was predicted to be a crummy weekend and when we arrived at the trailhead...it was misting...it misted all day and we saw only 5 people all day. It was fairly comfortable considering we are usually prepared for the elements but there no VFTT if you know what I mean :p If you want peace on the peaks, do em while its raining out! ;) (or in the snow...that keeps the hourdes away as well)

09-27-2005, 06:49 AM
During the week,in the fall is the best time to go for solitude. I remember doing the Hale Loop in September 2004, on a weekday after everyone was back in school and vacation season was pretty much completyed. I parked at Zealand trailhead which was almost deserted, went down to the Hale trailhead, up to Hale, stayed there for awhile, ate some lunch and climbed the pile of rocks, and then continued to Zealand Hut, where the hut crew was hanging out, also enjoying the solitude. Then back down to the trailhead. Saw no one on the trail or the summit for the entire hike. It was nice!

09-27-2005, 07:04 AM
The fact that many of the posts name the instances in amongst their many hikes that they have had solitude hints that it is rare. But solitude is to be had year round without any planning on many trails and summits. Sometimes it just happens. I usually only will head to the higher mountains to hike on a Saturday when the weather is nice and yet I have just as often as not had the trail or a summit to myself.

09-27-2005, 07:19 AM
Think small for solitude.

On Saturday, I climbed Mt. Madison up the Pine Link and Watson Path. I encountered numerous hikers, which was OK, since I expected it on a clear fall weekend day in the northern Presidentials, and my encounters with other hikers on the trail are almost always pleasant.

On Sunday, I climbed an obscure little mountain on an obscure little trail, and had the mountain all to myself, as I knew I would. It's a stiffer climb than you might expect for a less-than 4000-footer, and has increasingly beautiful views from open ledges all the way to the top. There are others; find them and keep them to yourself... ;)


Mad Townie
09-27-2005, 09:35 AM
Last spring my wife and I climbed a little tiny mountain with incredibly great views of the Presidentials. We were there on Patriots' Day, a holiday only in Maine and Massachusetts, and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was a Monday.

Of course the Zealand Road wasn't open yet. :eek: Oh, no! I may have given it away!!!