My maxim that a so-called alpine start, i.e., leaving before sunrise, is always best did not work too well for Matt and me. We entered the clouds on the way up and reached the shrouded summit at 9:40. We did indulge in the hand-carried summit beer in the chilly, damp, opaque environment, but we headed back down before any hint of clearing. By the time we got to the cut-off via the Amphitheater Trail at 2550 ft, there were intermittent views through the mist to the ground. By the time we reached the outlook at the junction of Pt. Surprise and the Cliff Walk Trails at 2200 ft, the sky was clear. By the time we got back to the car at 12:50, the sky was entirely blue. So much for views from the top! (I might start listening to Beef, who always calls for the alpine start and never quite makes it.)
Wanting a new route to the top (see map), we parked at the Old Toll Road lot on Rt 124 and started hiking up the road at 8:03. We joined the White Arrow Trail momentarily at the end of the road and then headed to Monte Rosa and then up the Smith Summit Trail. The trail had a lot of granite slabs and was quite pleasant. On our way down, we reversed direction going down the Smith Summit Trail but crossed over to the White Arrow via the Amphitheater Trail. Unfortunately we missed our cutoff to the Side Foot Trail and continued down the rocky White Arrow all the way to the Half-way House (1860-1954). Then we took Pt. Surprise to Cliff Walk and out on the Parker Trail, getting back to the car a little before 1pm.
Summary: ~ 5 miles, 4:55, nice trail via Monte Rosa and Smith Summit up to the cloudy summit.