Twenty-two minutes to the summit from the parking lot at the visitor center, up the Pine Hill Trail. This is the fastest route up Mt. Wachusett. But with no pack, I'm showing my age. Not too many years ago I could get up in about 15 minutes--with a pack. Every year, now, I see my times increasing, my breathing going faster.
Well, let's worry about age a little later. The Pine Hill Trail is the Interstate Highway of Mt. Wachusett. Probably more people take this route to the summit than any other. It's shown its age over the years, too, as it was getting wider (aren't we all?) and more worn and eroded. But for a few years now it's been going through a facelift. Trail crews have been narrowing the trail in most places, and putting in stone stairs, one or two at a time. Now, perhaps half the trail is paved with native stone. The steps, while essential, are to me a mixed bag. I really prefer a natural trail with all its warts. But this trail was getting so badly damaged that something had to be done, and the fix has been effective so far. Still a lot to do, though.
From the start of the trail to the summit via the Pine Hill Trail is about 1100 yards (1 km). The trail is steep for Wachusett, but it's all walking, not climbing. The early going right now is still pretty muddy in spots, but once you reach the junction with the Bicentennial Trail you hit the stairs it it's mostly dry and clean almost to the Down Summit Road. Above that, there are no stairs, so it's moist dirt, but not especially wet, in between the rocks.
A hazy, humid day, so the view wasn't particularly interesting. We turned around and got back to the bottom in 12 minutes. That was pretty close to the 10 minutes I used to do it in. Felt good!
Go to the Hiking Trails on Mt. Monadnock site today!