One of the reasons I wanted to head up to New Hampshire over the Memorial Day weekend was to go hiking. On Sunday morning we drove the short distance up to Miller State Park in Peterborough to climb Pack Monadnock. This 2,290 foot peak is the highest peak in the Wapack Range and the highest point in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Nearby Mount Monadnock, offered a longer hike but as we were short on time, we decided on the shorter trails for climbing Pack Monadnock.
TSG Tip: While I thought Monadnock was simply the name of this area or mountain, “monadnock” is a Native American term for an isolated hill or lone mountain that stands above a surrounding area. “Pack” means little, which makes sense as it is smaller than nearby Mount Monadnock with its 3,165 foot peak.
Miller State Park is open from 9 am to 5 pm and opened full-time for the season as of May 22. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11, and children under 5 (as well as NH residents 65 and older) are free.
After paying our admission fees, we were given information from the park that included a Miller State Park on Pack Monadnock map as well as a suggestion as to which trails to take.
Park your car, pick a trail, and be on your way.
Some quick reading about Pack Monadnock before we hiked advised taking the Wapack Trail up and the Marion Davis Trail down, which is exactly what the gate attendant suggested.
While the trail from the parking lot initially looked flat, it took very little time before we realized that flat terrain wasn’t going to be part of this hike. Apparently the trails on Pack Monadnock have a difficulty rating of moderate with some steep pitches (class 1 primarily).
Moderate difficulty rating: Hikes rated as “moderate” usually gain 500-800 feet per mile. Moderate hikes usually ascend steadily at an incline that would be difficult for an unconditioned person to comfortably handle.
Wapack Trail actually extends a full 21 miles from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, NH and traverses the summit of Pack Monadnock. But for this day hike we were only taking the 1.4 mile trek from the parking lot at Miller State Park to the summit.
We continued to climb and with each step I couldn’t believe how rocky it was. Rocky enough for you?
But this first little summit offered some amazing views of the region.
And here I am pretending to hang onto the ledge. Truth be told, you could just walk over, but hey — did you expect Red not to have some fun?
Each of the trails are marked with special color blazes to guide you along the way. For the Wapack Trail, it’s a yellow blaze (triangle).
Here’s a close up of the blaze and the trail was clearly marked all along the way.
Some parts of the trail were covered in leaves and relatively flat while other areas felt like it was all rock and uphill.
The best part of this hike was that the terrain seemed to change at a moment’s notice. Take a look at the roots on those trees!
Somehow they continue to grow in what seems like very little soil.
Then they shoot up into the straightest of all possible trees. After walking through a heavy cover of trees, we reached the summit.
After you approach the summit, you should turn around and take in your accomplishment. Either return the way you came or continue onward.
If you want a great view of the area, go up to the fire tower, but do try to ignore the cell phone towers that interrupt the view. Whoever is manning the fire tower will invite you to go in and join them and tell you more about the area if you’re interested. There is a parking lot at the summit because cars are able to drive up to this point to allow those physically unable to hike to also see the view.
Here’s and example of the view from up on the fire tower. On clear days you are supposed to be able to see Mount Washington, the Vermont hills, as well as the Prudential and John Hancock buildings in Boston.
Not wanting to waste any time, we immediately looked for the entrance of the Marion Davis Trail, located on the opposite side of the parking lot.
I almost immediately spotted the elusive and rare “Swedish Fish” in their natural habitat. 🙂
As we hiked down the Marion Davis Trail, we followed the blue blazes along the trail.
This trail was steeper and slippery as there were leaves everywhere covering the trail. Despite that I still wanted to photograph the flowers and the super big boulder on the side of the trail. Looks like a remnant from the Ice Age!
While the trails were only 1.4 miles each way, they weren’t flat and that combined with the heat of the day, made for an interesting hike. As you can see above, the Nike+ app said it was a total of 2.65 miles.
- Definitely pack bug spray for this hike as we were covered in mosquito bites by the end.
- Wear pants and a light long sleeve top (I had on short sleeves) because of bugs and ticks. And yes, I decided long sleeves would be better after I freaked out when I found one on my arm when we left. Eek!
- Having water with us was important, but bring a backpack isn’t that important. Maybe a small backpack or bag instead would’ve been better.
- In hindsight I would have started out earlier to avoid the heat and other hikers as some areas we hiked with people practically right on top of us, including those running the trails. I have to think there’s some kind of hiker’s etiquette, right?
Overall, Pack Monadnock made for a great introductory hike in New England and definitely increased my interest researching other locations right in my backyard. Do you have any recommendations for me?