The afternoon sun filters through the red and yellow forest creating an intoxicating sight and smell. It’s a beautiful October afternoon to hike Pack Monadnock. I’ve driven by several times but never ventured in. After living in Montana for a few years I’m back exploring New England and falling in love all over again.
Located on Route 101 in Peterborough, Miller State Park is the oldest state park in New Hampshire. The entry fee is $4 for adults and $2 for children 6-11-years-old. For those over 65 or under 5 admission is free. People have two options to get to the summit: drive or hike.
Three trails ascend to the summit. From the main parking lot, one can follow the Wapack Trail (yellow markings) and The Marion Davis Trail (blue markings). Located off East Mountain Road is The Raymond Trail (white markings). Make sure you follow the right trail and get a map so you don’t end up on the other side of the mountain.
The Wapack Trail is a 21 mile trail from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield NH. I’m told it has the best views and it’s only 1.4 miles at the base parking lot to the summit. Remember short doesn’t mean easy. It is steep and rocky with exposed tree roots so trudge carefully. Hiking on uneven ground is much different then walking on a treadmill. For those who are in great shape that means no huffing and puffing on the first leg, allow 35 minutes to the top. The other 90% of us who want to enjoy a leisurely pace however, which includes admiring the views, expect at least an hour hike to the summit.
From the rocky ledges one can find amazing views of Mount Monadnock. Soaring 3165 feet above sea level it looms in the distance, dwarfing mountains in its wake. Close to the top, the short Summit Trail diverges from the Wapack Trail through a grove of conifers. The trail leads to the parking lot which has an 180 degree view of distant mountains and valleys. On clear days, one can see Boston and the White Mountains. The parking lot is busy with cars and hikers so beware of traffic. There are picnic tables, outhouses, and a kiosk. In the middle of the horseshoe parking lot, a small look-out tower stands proud.
I walk to an empty picnic table to rest and take pictures. As I admire the views the sounds of human chatter subside. The sun feels good on my skin and I’m relaxed. As I look around I notice the sun is sinking low in the sky. Its time to head down. As I make my way down the fairly steep Marion Davis Trail, I gingerly pick my way down the rocky trail, careful not to fall. The forest darkens as the sun hides behind the mountain. It’s an eerie calm to have the woods to myself.