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