Please be there and ready to go at 9:30am We will leave the parking lot at 9:35am
A quick summary: The trailhead is found along a narrow, dark, dirt road that is reasonably well maintained in summer, not at all in winter. The trail was relocated in the spring and summer of 2007. The parking lot is now located off the road with a short driveway, and holds about 20 cars. The trailhead is found at the western end of the parking lot, along with a restroom (fancy outhouse) and an "Iron Ranger" where you can place an optional $4 (2008) per person maintenance fee. It seems that the Monadnock-Sunapee Trail should continue northward from here, although it is not shown on the map at the trailhead.
From the parking lot up to the junction with the original Dublin Trail, about 0.75 mile (1.2 km), you'll have a pretty easy hike, with an average slope of about 7% along this new section. Much of the first 3/8 mile (500 m) is level or downhill. The trail crosses several intermittent streambeds and recent logging roads and parallels the deep gully of Gleason Brook for some distance. Much of the trail through this section is still over forest duff, soft and pleasant hiking. However it is an uneven trail, with bumps, ruts, roots and stones poking up from underneath. It's going up the side of the mountain at a slight angle until it meets the original trail.
From here to the top, while it follows a more or less direct path to the summit, unusual rock formations, which create interesting shapes and mini-peaks and domes, causes the trail to twist and turn so you rarely get any long views far ahead. Every turn brings something a little different into view. While the new trailhead adds a little distance to the total length of the trail, it reduces the average slope from 16% to 15%. This is a lovely trail that somehow manages to lull you into thinking that it's a much easier climb than the other trails, belying the fact that its average slope is just about two degrees less than the others. The telling factor may be that the steepest 600 meters has the gentlest slope of the major routes to the summit. With the highest starting point, gentlest slope, and slightly longer distance, overall, this is probably the easiest typical hike up the mountain.
There are two ways to reach the head of the Dublin Trail: From Rt. 101, take Lake Road, about 0.7 km (~0.5 miles) west of Dublin Center. That's a left turn if you're heading west. Be sure not to turn down either Upper Jaffrey Road, which has a sign for the Monadnock State Park, or Snow Hill Road. Follow this for 3.24 km (2 miles) as it becomes Old Marlborough Rd and goes well past the lake, to Old Troy Road, on your left opposite the Dublin Country Club. Take Old Troy Road 2.43 km (~1.6 miles), continuing after it becomes a dirt road, to the trail head, on your left. (Old Troy Road becomes Old Dublin Road when you cross into the town of Troy. USGS topo maps may refer to the entire road as Old Dublin Road.)
From Rt. 124, take Old Dublin Road northeasterly (on the right if you're heading west) for 5 km (~3.2 miles), mostly dirt, until you reach the parking area on the left. You'll pass a couple of side roads off to the right; make sure you stay left--I don't think there are any roads to the left, but I can't guarantee it. (One of the roads you will pass is Shaker Farm Road North, the other end of Shaker Farm Road South which brings you to the Marlboro Trail. Resist the temptation to take it to the Marlboro Trail; it is in very rough shape.) "No Parking" signs are found along the road in this area.From either direction, this is a well maintained road, very narrow and dark under heavy tree cover. Note that it is not maintained in the winter. Alternatively, from Marlborough stay on Rt. 101 and watch for Lake Rd., about 10.78 km (~6.5 miles). Turn right onto Lake Rd. and follow it to the end. Turn right and at Old Dublin Road, turn left, following it for about 2.93 km (~1.9 miles). (Old Dublin Road becomes Old Troy Road when you cross into the town of Dublin.)
There is a parking area on the right down a short driveway, with room for about 20 cars. "No Parking" signs are found along the road in this area.
The trail starts fairly gently. It leaves the parking lot and quickly crosses Old Dublin Road and continues southward. Shortly, about 130 meters, the trail crosses a wooden bridge over an intermittent stream (one of several crossings or fordings). Fairly level at this point, the trail has several ups and downs as it parallels a stone wall on its right for about 30 meters before drifting farther to the left. It then begins a slow downhill section, crossing a recent logging road.
At about 450 meters, the trail takes a steeper downhill track to another intermittent stream crossing at 525 meters before finally starting to head uphill. After a gentle turn to the right, there is a dog-leg left that becomes a switchback, coming back to the stream crossed earlier, but staying on the southern bank of it's fairly impressive ravine. There's another logging road crossing at about 685 meters. The trail continues its gentle uphill track until it joins the old Dublin Trail at about 970 meters.
Throughout this section, the trail mostly runs over forest duff, often quite bumpy with underlying rocks and roots. Once it joins with the old Dublin Trail, the footing becomes more plain dirt and stone. This new section is quite nice to hike along while it's still new.
From the intersection with the new section of trail for a couple of hundred yards/meters, the trail had been mostly dirt. But now, you've got quite a few moderately sized stones—8 to 18 inches in diameter—mostly buried in the trail. Also in this area, you might want to keep your eye open for a curious feature—an old, abandoned well just to the left of the trail.
The trail gets considerably steeper after another 200 meters, as you encounter broad, flat rock faces. Unlike on the other trails, the facets are perpendicular to your path, and they tend to be smaller, so often you'll be crossing over the top the intersection of two faces and into the joint between two peaks. Sometimes, the trail just follows the ridge of intersecting facets, and you'll find it easiest to just walk along the sharp ridge rather than try to step into the valleys. It's also around here that you'll start to notice that the trail really is beginning to twist around the rock ahead, then turn past the rock that's behind that, and zig to keep from having to climb the next rock, and so on. All these twists and turns make for a trail that has a unique character on the mountain, always presenting you something new to look at, but with no long views ahead of you.
Being on the north slope, and under heavy tree cover, both hardwood and hemlock, the trail gets very little sun or ventilation at the lower altitudes. This means it remains damp longer than some of the other trails. The rocks can be quite slick, and you will find that for several days after a rain you may be walking in very shallow puddles or mud. And while you should stay on any trail rather than make a new trail to avoid wetness, the nature of this trail makes it very difficult to get off to the side, anyway.
The slope relaxes a little after another 200 meters (1/8th mile), but only briefly before hitting what may be the steepest, very rugged though short section of the trail. At the top of this section, the trail breaks out of the trees briefly, giving you some fresh air and open sky. Looking ahead, you'll see that the trail continues over large, uneven rocks.
For much of this section, you will be going in and out of the trees while the rocks try to take over the landscape. At about 1.57 km (just under 1 mile) into the hike, the trees open up some more giving you your first clear view up the mountain, though the summit remains out of sight. You'll find a nice spot just to the left of the trail to view the northern horizon, from Mt. Ascutney to Dublin Pond when you've traveled 1.79 km (1.1 miles) in. Shortly after that, you'll reach an area where the taller trees are behind you or far enough off the trail that you continue the hike under open sky. By now, the worst of any dampness on the trail has dried up (unless it's a damp day, of course), and you'll be able to walk without worrying so much about slippery rocks.
It's easy to make good time through here. You will quickly approach the summit, though you can't tell by looking. Suddenly, you may notice off to your right that there are some cairns. These are the blazes for the The Marlboro Trail —don't try to follow them by accident and end up going back down the mountain! The Dublin Trail continues straight ahead, and will intersect the Marlboro Trail in just a couple of hundred meters, at 2.34 km (1.5 miles). This intersection is well and clearly marked, especially important on your way down the mountain, but also useful when trying to decide which way to go to the summit. And it's just after this intersection that you finally get to see the summit, as it peeks between two of the rocks that the trail snakes between. You're about 400 m (1/4 mile) from the top now. (If you accidentally take the Marlboro Trail down the mountain, you'll have a good 45 minute walk along Old Shaker Road North and Old Dublin Road to get back to your car, about three miles away.)
The remainder of the trip is comparatively gentle, though you still need to gain about 50 m (165 feet) elevation to reach the summit, much of it in the last 100 meters (110 yards). Finally, 2.72 km from the start, you'll reach the summit.