Blazing Trails into the Future: Monadnock State Park

Greta Ketchner – SCA NH Corps – Discover the Power of Parks Interpretive Ranger 

View of Mount Monadnock from Smith Connecting trail on Bald Rock

Monadnock State Park is a very popular destination for visitors from near and far, with the common goal to go hiking on the mountain and take in all the wonder it brings. When I am hiking on the mountain, I often think of the work that has gone into creating the trails which we benefit from today; we have a lot of people to thank for the legacy they left behind.  The first native peoples of the mountain who are collectively called the Abenaki or People of the Dawnland, knew this mountain the best and I would imagine had their own preferred trails to travel on.  We must recognize their history to the region and the mountain and that they were the first who explored Monadnock.  Many explorers have come after and continue to leave a mark on this mountain.

Trails Week Monadnock State Park

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and New Hampshire State Parks presents Monadnock Trails Week.

In 2022, many people are influencing the trails in positive ways. You can help to maintain our trails by signing up for a Volunteer Trail Crew during Monadnock Trails Week, July 22-26, 2022. There are other ways to be involved including taking photos to capture the trail crew’s work and sharing them, or celebrating at the events happening in the evenings: Kickoff Party on Friday July 22nd and Building Unity Outdoors with Earl B. Hunter, Jr., Founder and President of Black Folks Camp Too on July 23rd.

July 10th 2022 – Hikers on Monadnock Trails reactions to their experience “My body is tired but my mind is tranquil.”

New Hampshire State Parks has contracted a few different trail crews to do work on the mountain. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) professional trail crew did work around the park on the Dublin trail. They built a staircase that you will see about a mile up from the trailhead. There was also a trail crew from the AMC associated with AmeriCorps that worked to clear debris from waterbars (waterbars are used to redirect rain and prevent trail erosion) and clear overgrowth along the Dublin trail. Currently there is a professional crew, Tahawus Trails, doing work along the White Cross trail. They will be repairing and adding to the stairs – the White Cross trail will be closed during this time. It is unsafe to travel on the trail while they are working, so please heed the temporary trail closure signs.

Student Conservation Association NH Corps – 28 Years of Service

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) NH corps has a long history with Monadnock State Park. The first corps began at the state park in 1994-1995.  Will Kirkpatrick, the Park Manager, was a member of this Conservation Corps Crew!  As the Manager at Monadnock, Will is still involved with maintain the trails 28 years after participating in the SCA program 28 years ago.

Will Kirkpatrick working on a project at Monadnock State Park in 2019. Photo taken by Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Will recalled that while serving in SCA NH Corps, they lived in tents behind what is known as the “hiker cabin” for part of the term of service and also in cabins at nearby Camp Wanocksett. The Crew which was comprised of around 20 individuals, worked on projects around Monadnock including building a significant portion of “The Million Dollar Staircase” along the White Cross trail, winterizing the “Hiker’s Cabin” in the park, and creating a staircase along the White Cross trail above the Halfway House site. The legacy of the NH Conservation Corps (NHCC) lives on 28 years later, and will hopefully do so for many years to come.

This summer, five SCA NHCC field crews will be serving at Monadnock State Park. Two crews are working in collaboration with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests on the Marlboro trail, while the other three are working with New Hampshire State Parks at the Gilson Pond Area Campground and trails that start near the park headquarters. If you see them, please take a moment to thank them for the hard work they are doing to improve trails for you and the park’s future visitors.

SCA Trail Crew starting their day – just before heading out to work on the Marlboro trail.

Monadnock was carved by glaciers, but today WE as hikers are leaving the biggest impact on the mountain’s surfaces. It is said that, Mount Monadnock is one of the most hiked mountains in America. Knowing this it is important to practice the principles of Leave No Trace and Carry in Carry Out. Exercising these guidelines helps us to keep the park beautiful for future generations to visit. Even an act as simple as taking a rock from a trail can have lasting impacts, especially if every visitor were to do so when visiting. Beyond leaving environment and nature the way you encountered it, you should carryout any trash or food scraps you have brought with you. We do not leave anything we bring with us in the park – this can ruin the landscape and visitor experience, and attract wildlife. Please only take pictures and leave footprints. 

Resources

Here are some resources to find out more about the Native American Heritage and Mount Monadnock:

https://www.nh.gov/folklife/learning-center/traditions/native-american.htm

https://forestsociety.org/monadnock-trails-week

https://www.monadnockconservancy.org/explore/mount-monadnock

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Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps and made possible by generous financial support from Eversource. The program offers a look into the natural world through hands-on programming. Interpretive programs focus on connecting participants with nature and building appreciation for New Hampshire's unmatched natural heritage. Programs include guided hikes, interpretive tours, and imaginative environmental workshops for children and families. Programs are offered free to guests with paid park admission fee. No pre-registration is required.

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