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Through the Rhododendron Tunnel

Posted on by Andrew Reynolds

Aptly named after its 16-acre rhododendron grove, Fitzwilliam’s Rhododendron State Park is ideal for a picturesque picnic and a serene hike. Featuring universally accessible trails, the park is perfect for all ages.

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As New Hampshire’s only botanical park, Rhododendron State Park has a lot to offer for nature- and flower-lovers alike. It is most famous for its magnificent flowering display, which takes place when the rhododendrons bloom in mid-July. The plants provide a brilliant spectacle, blanketing the trails with pinkish-white buds. Follow the 0.6-mile Rhododendron Trail Loop for the best displays.

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Rhododendron Maximum is shade-tolerant species that prefers acidic soils. Its large leaves help to absorb light.

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Even though this photo was taken in mid-April, this rhododendron’s leaves are still drooping to protect it from the snowy winter.

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It’s rare and uncommon for these shrubs to thrive in New Hampshire. Still, Rhododendron State Park  features the largest grove in New England.

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In some parts of the park, the rhododendron are so plentiful that they form a tunnel around the trail.

To find my favorite vista, follow the Rhododendron Trail Loop from the parking lot until you meet up with the Laurel Trail. Follow that trail until it connects to the other side of the Rhododendron Loop, then take a right. Follow this trail until you get you a bridge hanging over a shrub swamp that’s surrounded by a thicket of rhododendrons.

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Come July, the bridge serves as a 360-degree vantage point for the budding display. Hopefully the snow will be long gone by then!

Along with the rhododendrons, the park also features another member of the heath family, mountain laurels. The Laurel Trail offers its own flowering exhibition in mid-June, about a month before the rhododendrons bloom.

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One of the park’s many mountain laurels, which sport smaller leaves than the rhododendrons.

And if you’re looking for more flowers, there’s plenty more to go around. Wildflowers speckled throughout the 2,723-acre park blossom from early spring to first frost, putting on their final show in the fall as they harmonize with the forest’s stunning foliage. Follow the calm Wildflower Trail to capture the best of the flowering. As of April 16, 2013, the wildflowers haven’t yet awoken from their winter slumbers; however, you can expect them to reach towards the sun within the month (as long as the weather stays warm).

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A bench alongside the Wildflower Trail.

If you’re up for a more strenuous hike, follow the Rhododendron Loop until you get to the Little Monadnock Mountain Trail, which leads you along a 1-mile-long trail ascending to a mesmerizing view of Mt. Monadnock.

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Pets are allowed if and only if they are leashed at all times. They’re also only allowed on the Little Monadnock Trail and the Rhododendron Loop connecting it to the parking lot.

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Help to keep these beautiful parks clean by taking only photos and leaving only footprints. And remember to contribute to the day-use fee to keep Rhododendron State Park and other “user-funded” parks like it well-maintained and open to the public.

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Have you walked through the tunnel of rhododendrons at Rhododendron State Park?

Happy trails!

Trail Map
Historical Photos of Rhododendron
Directions
 
Route 119W
Fitzwilliam, NH 03447
Phone: 603-532-8862 (at Monadnock State Park)
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About Andrew Reynolds

Howdy folks! My name is Andrew Reynolds. I've lived in New Hampshire for more than 4 years, and I recently graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from Keene State College. To put it simply, I'm a writer and photographer who loves everything about the outdoors--including but not limited to kayaking, mountain-biking, fishing, swimming, camping, backpacking, hiking, rock-climbing, picnicking, walking the dog(s), and meditating at a peaceful vista. If I had to describe myself (and, therefore, my blog) in three words, I would choose the following: curious, adventurous, and quirky. I think curious fits because of my interest and passion in learning and education, which pushes me to research on my own as well as talk to the experts about the science and history behind our environment (ecology, geology, biology, astronomy, etc.). Adventurous is representative because of my everlasting wanderlust and dedication to adventuring to the state's countless "hidden gems," tranquil day-trips, and other interesting escapades. Lastly, but most importantly, I chose quirky because of the perspective I like to offer through this blog. Being disconnected from our natural environment has intense consequences, not only for our personal health and sanity, but indirectly for the well-being of others--present and future. One of the biggest reasons for why I enjoy the outdoors so much is because it's the most satisfying way for me to break out of the bubble, stray from the hustle-bustle, and gather a fresh outlook on what's truly important in life. I hope that documenting and sharing my experiences in this blog will serve as a vehicle to inspire more people to understand, care for, and appreciate our environment, as well as the health of our planet and its inhabitants. Happy (and safe) trails everyone! View all posts by Andrew Reynolds →
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One Response to Through the Rhododendron Tunnel

  1. avatar Jackie says:

    Great post! I love the view of Mt. Monadnock.


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