Trip report

Mt. Isolation Snowshoe

Hiking/Walk DATE: 03/24/2012 - 03/24/2012

Trip/Event Location: Glen, NH

Trip Leader(s): Gandalf , JDNnh

Max # People: 15

Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money

Difficulty Level: Strenuous

What we're doing

It's easier to bag this 4,000 footer in winter conditions! The snowshoe bushwhack track cuts down the mileage and bypasses 4 brook crossings. The bushwhack traverses through a

Driving directions to the location and spot to meet at:

We will meet at the Rocky Branch Trailhead on Route 16 - drive north 5.5 miles on NH 16 from Jackson's covered bridge toward Pinkham Notch. Past a bridge over the Ellis River and beyond a White Mountain National Forest sign, turn left for the Rocky Branch Trail parking up an asphalt roadway. several miles north of Jackson and south of Pinkham Notch and Gorham.  According to Google Maps this spot is about 150 miles from Boston and it should take about 3 hours 15 minutes to drive there.

  • Click here for the driving directions.

Once you open Google Maps simply change the generic starting point ("Boston, MA") to your own starting point to get customized directions.

While carpooling is encouraged you are responsible for coordinating your own rides. Use the comments section below to communicate with others who may also be looking to share a ride. If you do share a ride be sure to share the expenses - suggested donations per person are $20 from Boston MA, $15 from Manchester NH, $10 from Concord NH and $5 from Campton, NH.


Trip Report/Photos
Featured Photo

After beating myself last Saturday on a Bonds traverse it was time to run a GO trip with Jon and head over to Mount Isolation.

Mount Isolation in the winter is shorter than in the summer, as the preferred route is a bushwhack through the Birch glades of Engine Hill. When broken out correctly the hike through the glades is one of the prettiest paths below treeline in the White Mountains.

Today's trail conditions were a mixed bag, the hike up the Rocky Branch Trail up to 2,900 feet was snow-free and then we began to run into a monorail after the Wilderness Boundary. We all carried snowshoes but they really were not needed. We all barebooted except for Mike who took out his snowshoes for a brief stretch as we approached the summit cone of Mt. Isolation. We missed the Engine Hill Bushwhack snowshoe track since the 'track' looks like a patch of snow. On the return we found it and made note that the 'entry point' starts with a T marked on a tree on the height of land. The bushwhack track is now a very faint monorail that looks like a patch of snow from the Rocky Branch Trail.

Alex did an excellent job using his compass and navigation skills to dump us onto the Isolation Trail. During the bushwhack we ran into mud, water, 2-3 feet snow, name it, we had it. Mike didn't have the best gaiters to cover his boots so his feet got wet early on and stayed that way the rest of the day.

We had to cross Rocky Branch three times although on the return we found a short bushwhack that bypassed two of those crossings. Crossings #2, #3 and #4 are all doable by rock hopping with the occasional need to put your foot on a submerged rock. We found the monorail on the Isolation Trail difficult to stay on top of and in some cases, collapsing. We found the monorail bushwhack off the Isolation Trail and followed it through a drainage that intersects with the Davis Path saving a few hundred feet of elevation gain although we did miss it on the return from the summit. 

The weather was warm with temps in the low 50s, hardly any wind and abundant sunshine once we reached the summit. The views from the summit were great and Mt. Washington could clearly be seen. We stayed on the summit for almost an hour enjoying the sunshine, views and feeding one gray jay.

On the hike back through the Engine Hill Bushwhack we took a different compass bearing and Alex took us through the birch glades I was hoping to run into. It is one of my favorite sections of the hike and really pretty even though this time we did not enjoy it using snowshoes. On the way back during the bushwhack we ran into real thick brush and swampy terrain that made us think that somehow we might have missed the Rocky Branch trail intersection. As we started going around the swampy area Jon found the bushwhack track/monorail that we looked for earlier in the hike. We followed the monorail and ended back on the Rocky Branch Trail!

It was about 4:45 and we arrived back at the car around 6:45. It was a fun day on Mt. Isolation, which is always adventurous and unlike most of the other below treeline hikes in the White Mountains. Mount Isolation, much like Owl's Head, always presents a different experience each time you do it.

Mileage was 13 miles with 3,400 feet elevation gain.

Alex took additional photos and videos, which you can see here.

~ Mike Boisvert

  There are 51 photos in Album (Note: Move mouse pointer over larger pic and click on NEXT for better viewing)

What Members Are Saying About This Trip/Event

  • Getting to Isolation was difficult with all that mud, water & crumbling monorail of hardpacked snow we called a trail for so many hours. We persevered and were rewarded w/a sunny 50 degree calm summit & killer views. Thanks to everyone for making this day a very memorable GO Hike. - JDNnh
  • Mike and Jon, thanks for arranging this fun and challenging fun time in the Whites with great company on a fabulous, spring-like day! Alex - alex4mts

Members That Participated


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Thornton, NH

United States

guest member

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate

Methuen, MA

United States


Outdoor Fitness Level: Very Strenuous

Lexington, MA

United States

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