Mount Isolation has earned its name for a reason. Nestled in the middle of the Dry River Wilderness, it truly is isolated from manmade things, as well as heavy foot traffic. The hike is difficult, but the views are gorgeous, the chances of seeing moose are high, and of course, it is just over 4,000 feet!
Height: 4,004 feet (1,220 Meters)
Distance: 12-19.6 miles (See Options Below)
Elevation Gain: 4,000-5,000 (See Options Below)
Duration: 7-10 hours
Difficulty: Very Strenuous
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Rocky Branch Trail – Isolation Trail – Davis Path | 14.6 Miles | 3,600 Feet Elevation Gain
The trailhead for this route is located just off of NH 16. This is the most common route to Isolation. Despite the long length, this option features a relatively gradual gain (except for the beginning of the hike). Isolation is very difficult for its size as it makes hikers gain and lose elevation no matter what path they take.
Glen Boulder Trail – Davis Path | 12 Miles | 5,050 Feet Elevation Gain
This in my opinion, is the best route to Isolation. Starting of Route 16 at the Glen Ellis Falls parking area, it ascends quickly above treeline to incredible views of Pinkham Notch, the Wildcats, the Carters, and the precariously placed Glen Boulder. This route features heavy elevation gain as you ascend to Boott Spur (above 5,000 feet) and descend back down, to then rise up again to the summit of Isolation. On top of the ridge here, you get incredible views into the Dry River Wilderness. It is the path from Boot Spur to Isolation in which you will find many moose tracks, and may end up coming across one (see embedded video). Be sure to check out Glen Ellis falls before you leave!
Davis Path | 19.6 Miles | 4,050 Feet Elevation Gain
Davis path begins at a large parking area off of US 302 a few miles south of Crawford Notch. This trail up the mountain features incredible views, lots of vertical gain and loss, and passes only .5 miles away from the gorgeous summit of Mount Crawford.
The views from the summit of Isolation are spectacular. A large rock face gives hikers clear and expansive views of Mount Washington, Boot Spur, Mount Monroe, and many other mountains.
Isolation is one of the more difficult winter hikes. The Glen Boulder trail is extremely steep, and hikers get exposed to high winds and snowdrifts from the ridge to Boott Spur. Davis Path and the Rocky Branch path are likely better options, but it is important for hikers to understand the difficulty of breaking trail during the winter time. It makes these already long trails, far longer. These trails being less traveled, it is often easy to lose trail, so it is only recommended in the winter by those that can navigate very well with map and compass.