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Monadnock Walks: Alternatives to Summiting

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Mount Monadnock is known for its summit: the bare schist boulders and breathtaking 360 views that reach to Boston. To get to the summit, however, can be a daunting task. A minimum four-mile trek with boulders, smoothed rock, and steep scrambles might be too challenging of a hike for some visitors – especially on rainy days that turn the worn boulders into slippery, slimy hazards. But, have no fear! Monadnock State Park offers other trails beside a straight shot to the summit. On a recent rainy day, I discovered the magical Harling and Hinkley trails. These relatively flat, winding trails are a fantastic trek for anyone looking for an alternative to the 4+ hour roundtrip to the summit (And they are especially beautiful during or right after a rain shower).

Here is your step-by-step guide to the White Dot-Harling-Hinkley loop – an ideal 2.1 mile trek for families with young children or for anyone look for a pleasant walk through the woods.

White Dot Trail

Walking up the White Dot trail is the most challenging part of the 2.1 mile trek.

Walking up the White Dot trail is the most challenging part of the 2.1 mile trek.

You will be ascending the White Dot trail for approximately 0.8 miles from Park Headquarters. This will be the steepest part of your hike and may be the most challenging. Look out for curious squirrels, chirping songbirds, and a wooden throne.

A stump-seat offers a brief reprieve from the White Dot Trail.

A stump-seat offers a brief reprieve from the White Dot Trail.

Cascade Link

Falcon Spring, the last remnants of a settlement by fire watchman M. Falconer, is a great spot to refill waters and relax.

Falcon Spring, the last remnants of a settlement by state fire warden William M. Falconer, is a great spot to refill waters and relax.

Next, you will come to a junction for Cascade Link – take this trail to the right to head toward the Harling Trail. If you are thirsty beforehand, consider filling up your water bottles at Falcon Spring off the left side of the White Dot Trail.

Harling Trail

The sign for the Harling Trail off of Cascade Link is posted high up on a tree.

The sign for the Harling Trail off of Cascade Link is posted high up on a tree.

The dense growth at the start of the Harling Trail can make the trailhead be easily walked past.

The dense growth at the start of the Harling Trail can make the trailhead be easily walked past.

After just 0.1 miles of the Cascade Link, you’ll see a sign on a tree to the left denoting the Harling Trail. You will follow this trail for a half-mile as cross-country skiing trails zig-zag across the way. This trail was blazed in 1914 by E.J. Harling and holds many historic treasures. From an old stone wall to a cairn village to massive red oaks, there is much to explore along the route.

The turnoff for the State Park Headquarters' Campground will cut the hike in half.

The turnoff for the State Park Headquarters’ Campground will cut the hike in half.

After about a quarter of a mile, you will come to a trail junction showing the way back to the Park Headquarters’ campground; this is an option for a shorter walk (and a chance to head back to bathrooms).

Hinkley Trail

The Harling-Hinkley trail junction.

The Harling-Hinkley trail junction.

As you approach the Harling-Hinkley trail junction, you will hear the sound of running water. A large sign beside the bubbling brook will lead you to the right toward Poole Road. This junction is a fantastic place to stop and relax. Take a seat on the bench or dangle your feet in the water from the bridge and enjoy the serenity of the running water.

The Hinkley trail meanders next to a bubbling brook.

The beautiful Hinkley Trail meanders next to a bubbling brook with the yellow blazes marking the way.

The Hinkley Trail runs about 0.6 of a mile – with mossy stepping stones running near the brook. Use the yellow blazes to guide you along the gentlest path through the woods. The Hinkley Trail comes out at Poole Road. Look to your right, and notice sign for the entrance. You now have a short walk back to headquarters along the pavement.

The end is in sight! Walk along Poole Road back to headquarters.

The end is in sight! Walk along Poole Road back to headquarters.

Next time you are in need of an easier hike, consider Monadnock State Park’s lesser used trails and explore the often unseen wonders of the woods.

Play Outside!

–Ranger Rachel, Monadnock State Park Interpreter 



Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 23, 2015

Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 23, 2015

Posted on by Ted Lenk

Although a few blooms here and there can be seen in the grove, the main “event” of flowers blooming  has slipped by us once again. There are several places along the trail where a bush has numerous blooms that are … Continue reading

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A Feast in our Forest

A Feast in our Forest

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

As the Interpretive Ranger at Pawtuckaway State Park, I have the pleasure of living in the woods all season.  My cozy campsite offers many appealing features; nighttime calls from my Barred Owl neighbor, a view of a misty wetland, sights … Continue reading

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Curiosity and Imagination leads to discoveries

Curiosity and Imagination leads to discoveries

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

When I first drove through Franconia Notch State Park, my first thought was how stunningly beautiful this place was. My second thought was how cool it would be to ride a dragon through the Notch! You see, when I’m hiking … Continue reading

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Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 16, 2015

Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 16, 2015

Posted on by Ted Lenk

It’s really quite pretty in the grove this week. Lots of fully developed blooms can be seen for the next few days throughout the Rhododendron area. As usual, some places will be almost devoid of blooms, and other places will … Continue reading

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Wondrous White Lake Walk

Wondrous White Lake Walk

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

They take a deep breath in. It’s controlled and elated, with each inhale they bring themselves further away from the distant memory of stress, and soothed into a nubile state of complacency. As the air leaves their lungs, consumed of … Continue reading

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The Spirit of The Notch

The Spirit of The Notch

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

As I drove into Franconia Notch State Park, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I was experiencing everything for the first time. Yet, in a way, every visitor, whether a veteran or a first time explorer, is gazing at new scenery … Continue reading

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Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 9, 2015

Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 9, 2015

Posted on by Ted Lenk

This week there are lots of fully blooming flowers to be seen at Rhododendron State Park. “Peak bloom” is a bit early this year. Perhaps the weather has affected the timing. I suspect that it will always be a mystery. … Continue reading

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Woods Whisperer

Woods Whisperer

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

The journeys and adventures I’ve had in the park pale in comparison to the journeys and adventures I’ve had with my new friends here. I’ve found that the combination of those two have made my experience here truly spectacular! As … Continue reading

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Discovering the Great North Woods

Discovering the Great North Woods

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Exploring New Places Before moving up to the Great North Woods, I had no idea what to expect. You can read about a new place before visiting, view picture-perfect photos, and hear stories from others, but you can never really … Continue reading

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Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 2, 2015

Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 2, 2015

Posted on by Ted Lenk

It seems that we’ve had enough rain for a bit. Plants generally do better with more moisture, though. Rhododendrons, being in the heath family, have fine roots as opposed to a central taproot, so water storage in the plant is … Continue reading

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