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The Mountain That Stands Alone

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

Mount Monadnock is a pristine mountain tucked into the southwest corner of New Hampshire. Many people come to hike the peak each year. Monadnock State Park offers many trails to the top for all skill levels. On this journey we decided to take the Birchtoft Trail to the summit. Along our way, we were able to explore the campground at Gilson Pond and took some time to admire the natural beauty of the area. From base to summit many memories were made. Whether it was our triumph at the summit, admiring the pond at the base, or just admiring the trail we were on, it was a great day.  Whether it is your first time up its historic trails, or you are a seasoned hiker, Monadnock always has something new to offer.

Mirror Image. Photo By Colleen Ann.

Mirror Image.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Gilson Pond.
One of the first things that we came across was Gilson Pond. The first part of the trail runs along its edge, giving visitors incredible views. From here, you can admire the beauty of this small pond, with Monadnock rising behind it. It was cloudy that morning, as we made our way down the trail. The face of the pond was perfectly still, and like its mirror it reflected its surroundings. We stopped briefly to take pictures and to quietly take everything in. This mountain played host to Transcendentalist such as Thoreau and Emerson, men who valued nature in a deep and passionate way. The pond has a quiet dignity that surrounds it. Looking out over Gilson Pond’s surface, I could see what they had seen here.

At The Summit. Photo By Colleen Ann.

At The Summit.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Gilson Pond Campground.
Gilson Pond Campground offers visitors a chance to get away from it all, and to stay in the shadow of Monadnock. A recent addition to the area, the campground sits right next to picturesque Gilson Pond. It was closed when we walked through, but we were able to get a great feel for it. The sites are beautiful and the campground has a secluded feel to it. It is a great place for hikers coming from a distance to stay close to the mountain. The campground also sits close to towns such as Peterborough, and Jaffrey as well.  Not everyone wants to climb the mountain, so this gives them something to do as well. Visitors can experience nature and are close to other great parts of the Monadnock Region. New Hampshire State Parks did a phenomenal job creating this campground, and while I didn’t get to stay this time, I cannot wait to come back later this summer and camp here.

 

The Summit.
Around 1pm, we reached the summit. Though it was cloudy, it was a perfect day to be at the summit. With little wind and the sun peeking out, we sat at the peak eating lunch and taking in the view all around us. I have been to the summit of many mountains, yet none are quite like Monadnock. Some people assume that the summit is bare due to it being above treeline. In reality numerous fires near the summit caused this. Today the top is bare and allows a 360 degree view.  Looking towards the Northwest slope, you can see Dublin Lake below you. Further on you look into Northern Vermont and New Hampshire. To the south, the land flattens and on a clear day you can see Boston. While it is a shame that fires laid the summit bare, one positive aspect is that you can see in all directions. No matter which trail you use, you arrive at a beautiful summit that allows you to see for miles in every direction.

Signs of the Past. Photo By Colleen Ann.

Signs of the Past.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

History.
Being the most climbed mountains in America, Monadnock has a rich history. This place served as a vacation spot for people such as Thoreau and Emerson, and has a rich history of hikers. While today Monadnock is a wild place, it was not always this way. As you make your way to the summit stone walls snake through the forest, reminding you of the past. Back then this place was not a forest, but endless fields dotted with stone walls. Even as you reach the summit you step in other peoples footsteps. The summit itself is covered in carvings. Names and dates were once chiseled into the granite, to commemorate many who made it to the summit. While today we practice leave no trace, it is interesting to walk around the summit and looking into the past.

View From the Trail. Photo By Colleen Ann.

View From the Trail.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Birchtoft and Red Spot.
Climbing mountains is not only about getting to the top, but what you see along the way. There are many different trails that lead to the summit, but Birchtoft remains one of my favorites. The trail starts near Gilson Pond, and up the mountain till it meets Red Spot Trail. Together these two trails create a great experience for beginners. Both trails have sections that can be challenging, but overall they create a nice gradual way to the summit. On our hike we were met by stonewalls, beautiful old trees and tiny brooks. As we neared the summit the trees cleared there were many places to stop and look over the region. Hiking these trails ultimately lead you to the summit, but there is so much to enjoy along the way.

The Little Details. Photo By Colleen Ann.

The Little Details.
Photo By Colleen Ann.

Monadnock is a great place to get away from it all. Gilson Pond is a great place to sit and enjoy the beauty of nature. The campground is a great place to rest and relax close to the summit. Hiking up the trails you can see the natural beauty of the place, while also seeing who came before you. At the summit you can take time to enjoy the view, or see who came before you. Monadnock State Park is a great place to bring the family to make memories that will last a lifetime.



Beautiful Moments at Taylor Mill Historic Site

Beautiful Moments at Taylor Mill Historic Site

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

Taylor Mill is a historical site tucked into a small corner of Derry New Hampshire. The site, which is a joint venture of New Hampshire State Parks and The Division of Forests and Lands, lies in a less traveled section … Continue reading

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Hidden History At Odiorne Point

Hidden History At Odiorne Point

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

Odiorne Point State Park is a beautiful park tucked into the seacoast of New Hampshire. Many people come here to picnic or to explore the tide pools at the waters edge. There are many reasons Odiorne is a paradise by … Continue reading

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Discoveries at Bear Brook State Park

Discoveries at Bear Brook State Park

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

The sky was dreary and it was snowing when I entered Bear Brook State Park. Yet I was excited to be outside even if the weather wasn’t ideal. Bear Brook is a place where natural beauty meets human achievement. You … Continue reading

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An Evening at Hogback Pond

An Evening at Hogback Pond

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

This quiet pond sits deep within Greenfield State Park and offers stunning views. Missed by many, Hogback Pond offers so much to visitors. In this article I will touch on some of the most beautiful things about this place. Views … Continue reading

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Winter at Robert Frost Farm

Winter at Robert Frost Farm

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

Many people see winter as a cold, dark time to stay inside. I have always viewed Winter differently. My days of adventure have always been surrounded by the excitement of a child. I look forward to snow days and there … Continue reading

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Basin Adventures

Basin Adventures

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

It was snowing when we pulled into The Basin. That Saturday, my boyfriend and I were up for an adventure; both feeling the need to get outside. Yet with an impending storm, we only had time for a short hike. … Continue reading

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The Mountains Are Calling

The Mountains Are Calling

Posted on by Colleen O'Connell

Only weak rays of sun peaked through as we entered Franconia Notch State Park. I gazed up; clouds swirled around creating a turbulent ceiling over I-93 North. This is the kind of day most people tend to stay inside and … Continue reading

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Start with Parks: Lessons from the Trail

Start with Parks: Lessons from the Trail

Posted on by Patrick Hummel, Volunteer Program Coordinator

01.20.15 “I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learn­ing noth­ing in this triv­ial world of men. I must break away and get out into the moun­tains to learn the news.”- John … Continue reading

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"Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn."

“Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.”

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

When you commit yourself to ten months of service, something with a definitive end, it is easy to get wrapped up in the world of countdowns. I can tell you that there’s only one weekend left of interpretive programming left … Continue reading

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Trailing Autumn: A Monadnock Tradition

Trailing Autumn: A Monadnock Tradition

Posted on by Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

The White Dot trail may be quickest and the most hiked route at Monadnock State Park; however my favorite hike, by far, is a combination of multiple trails which wind up the side of the mountain to the summit. Like … Continue reading

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