Cloudbusting at Rollins State Park

Mt. Kearsarge summit
Mt. Kearsarge summit, photographed by Aaron

Just west of Concord lies Warner, NH, a town which hold its history dear.  Proud Federalist homes line the main street as you wind your way on Route 103.  My son, Aaron, and I chose a hot July day to explore Rollins State Park, and the peak of Mount Kearsarge.

This marker honors Governor Frank Rollins, a founder of the SPNHF, which bought the property for conservation in 1918.

Rollins State Park lies at the top of a well-paved auto road.  The visitors center is supervised by a park ranger.  You can park your car and walk the 3.5 mile auto road to the picnic area, but on this hot day we were grateful for the scenic drive!


There is a parking area and picnic site with amazing southern views. Tables and grills are available at small sites like this one, as well as a larger field with multiple tables for group gatherings.  The area is historically known as “The Garden”.

The Garden at Rollins State Park


At the picnic site we chose the Rollins Trail, which was wide and clearly marked.  It is well cleared of debris from the pine forest, and small bridges of wood or stone helped direct the flow of runoff, making the path dry.


The trail was very manageable, a bit rough but not too steep for long periods of time, and only a half mile.  Rollins Trail was clearly a run off for heavy rain and snow, with gulleys on each side of the trail and water scars carved into the rocks.


Trust Aaron to be able to find frogs at the top of a mountain!
A small pool near the summit afforded Aaron a chance to experiment with his camera…

Then I asked different people how long the trail took them to climb, the answer was invariably the same…they had no idea.  Climbing Mount Kearsarge was not at all as important as stopping!  Every few yards provided a new vista to photograph and appreciate.


Mt. Kearsarge has an elevation of just over 2100′, which seems small compared to its White neighbors to the north.  Because of its isolation from other hills, though, views extend for hundreds of miles in all directions.


With a storm predicted in the late afternoon, the winds picked up and cooled us off.  Clouds sped and morphed while we watched, shadowing the hills and lakes on all sides.




The peak was nearly empty with only 4 other small groups joining us. There is a fire tower and what seemed like an observation station, but the view is still 360 degrees.


Every child should know the feeling of being on top of the world!

NH State Parks created a very informative page outlining the history of Rollins State Park, as well as it’s close neighbor on the north side of the mountain, Winslow State Park.  I confess to being surprised that, with the close proximity to populated areas, there were so few explorers on this July Saturday.  The trip was convenient enough to afford plenty of time for a swim in one of the nearby lakes after the exertion!  Can anyone recommend a favorite swimming area for a hot day?



Lisa Wiley

My name is Lisa Wiley and I am native to mid-New England, but a NH transplant once my husband and I started a family. We have five children and multiple pets, including a bassett named Rue who will be featured in many of my posts! I work in two academic libraries and recently completed a Bachelors in Education and Training through Granite State College. My husband and I are both educators and love outdoor adventures on a shoestring budget! On the side, we garden and raise chickens and angora rabbits. I enjoy spinning the angora fiber from these gentle animals into beautiful yarns. I can't wait to share the adventures of the 'Wiley Rangers' as we explore NH!

One thought to “Cloudbusting at Rollins State Park”

  1. I enjoy your blogs Lisa. Some of NH’s parks are hidden gems just waiting to be discovered and it’s amazing that more people haven’t discovered them yet. Rollins is a perfect example. I drove up and down Interstate 89 past Rollins Park for over 20 years before I realized it featured an auto road up Kearsarge, whose spectacular views rival Monadnock and the Whites. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it and maybe your good press will spur the state to add some signage and promote this park a little more. As you say, its easy access and proximity to population centers should draw more visitors than it does.

    You ask about nearby swimming areas – have you visited Wadleigh SP yet? It’s just up the road from Rollins and is another little undiscovered gem, especially if you combine it with a visit to the Vernondale Store literally just down the street.

    Last – I too wondered about the “water scars” on the trail. I believe they are snowmobile scrapes instead.

    Happy travels … and looking forward to your next posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.