Note: For complete trail descriptions, times, elevation, trailhead directions, and major features, see the AMC White Mountain Guide or try our new White Mountain Guide Online.
Mount Isolation (4,003 ft.) is the highest peak of the Montalban Ridge, a subsidiary of the Presidentials, and offers stunning views of the Presidentials - one of the finest views in the White Mountains.
Strenuous: As its name might imply, Mt. Isolation’s remote location makes this trip either a full-day in & out hike or part of a multi-day traverse of the surrounding ridges. Day hikers would likely opt to take the Rocky Branch Trail to the Isolation Trail, turning onto the Davis Path for just under a mile; at that point, a short spur path leads to Isolation’s summit. Another day option is to access the Davis Path via the Glen Boulder Trail. Multi-day hikers may also consider finding their way to the area from the Crawford Path (via the Mizpah and Dry River Cutoffs) or from Lakes of the Clouds Hut by way of the Camel Trail to the Davis Path.
The WMNF maintains two shelters in the area, the Rocky Branch Shelter #2, located at the junction of the Isolation and Rocky Branch Trails, and the Dry River Shelter #3, located on the Dry River Trail, 1.4 miles north of the junction with the Isolation Trail. Note: The U.S. Forest Service reports that the southern terminus of the Rocky Branch Trail from the end of the Rocky Branch Road (Jericho Road) to Rocky Branch Shelter #2 is currently closed. Rocky Branch Shelter #2 is within the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness. In keeping with established policy for Wilderness Area management, this shelter will be removed when major maintenance become necessary.
Safety in Summer and early Fall
Winter Hiking on Mount Isolation
The AMC recommends all hikers check weather conditions in advance, carry a current map and guidebook, along with a compass and knowledge of how to use it. For recommendations on how to plan a safe hike in the White Mountains, see: The 10 essentials for a safe and pleasant hike.
Winter hiking anywhere in the White Mountains requires specialized equipment and skills, and experience in coping with weather, navigation, and winter gear. Extremely severe storms can develop suddenly and unexpectedly, especially above treeline. The combination of high wind and low temperatures has such a cooling effect that the worst conditions on Mt. Isolation are approximately equal to the worst reported from Antarctica, despite the much greater cold in the latter region. Hikers interested in extending their activities into winter are strongly advised to seek out organized trips with leaders who have extensive winter experience. Several AMC chapters offer winter hiking and backpacking instruction, and AMC offers several guided winter mountaineering trips; search for "Instruction" in AMC's activity listings. Helpful information can also be found in the AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping.