Early Fall is a great time to explore the Monadnock Region. The days are sunny and the trees are just beginning to change. This time of years combines the best of Summer and Fall. This week I was lucky enough to explore Miller State Park. This park offers visitors many different things for visitors to do. Miller is home to an auto road that allows visitors an unique experience getting up the mountain. It is also home to some incredible hiking with the Wapack Trail, Marion Davis Trail and other trails to the summit. The top offers incredible views. It is also home to the Audubon Hawk Watch and a fire tower. As you explore you can also learn about the history of this park (which is the oldest in the NH State Park System). There are many aspects that make Miller State Park a great place to spend a Fall afternoon.
One of the most interesting features of Miller is the auto road. It allows for a unique scenic drive up the mountain. The paved road winds up from Route 101 to the summit of South Pack Monadnock. It is a thin winding road that climbs steadily to the summit. As it climbs in elevation, the road moves through all sorts of scenery. It brings you through dense forest and past open spaces that look out towards the mountains. As you drive along you are able to fully enjoy the ecosystems that makes up the mountain. I enjoyed gazing into the forest as we made our way down the mountain. The sun broke through the dense canopy dappling the forest floor in light. The auto road also makes convenient access to the summit. It allows people who may not be able to hike a chance to see the summit. Between the beautiful scenery and the convenience, The Auto road is a great way to experience Miller.
Exploring the Top
There is a large parking area at the top, along with several picnic tables, and places to rest. The summit offers views of Mount Monadnock, and on a clear day, Boston. There are several places where trees have been cut away to offer scenic outlooks. It was a clear day and I had great views in all directions. In Southern NH, foliage season is just beginning. There are only splashes of colors, but the foliage will improve as we move into October. We walked around the summit, and enjoyed the scenery. The area is wooded, but has many places where you can gaze out and enjoy the surrounding mountains. In addition, Miller is home to a Audubon Hawk watch sight. Every Fall, volunteers work to count different species of raptors that pass through the area. We moved around the viewing area, reading all about the work that volunteers did. We saw a Merlin come in. The small bird circled us before heading off again, but it was a very neat experience. Later as we were exploring the summit we saw a group of turkey vultures fly over. The summit of Miller has something for everyone.
Along with the auto road, Miller is home to several hiking trails. These trails cater to a wide range of hikers with varying levels of experience. The Summit loop offers a easy hike in the woods for those who are looking for a quick walk. The Marion Davis trail runs from the base parking lot to the summit of the mountain. There are also some trails for hikers who are looking for more challenging terrain. The Raymond trail is 1.6 miles and departs from the summit, and leads hikers down to East Mountain Roads. The 21 mile Wapack Trail also passes through the park. The trails that surround the mountain are a relaxing way to get into nature. One of my favorites is the Wapack Trail heading towards North Pack Monadnock. It is a quiet 2.3 mile stretch of the trail that offers beautiful views and incredible scenery. No matter what trail that you choose, Miller is a great place to go for a hike.
Miller State Park has some intriguing history. The park was the first New Hampshire State Park. The three acre parcel at the summit was deeded to the state in 1891. The park was dedicated to General James Miller, a hero of the War of 1812. The mountain has been home to a hotel and to cattle grazing as well. One historical feature that still remains is the fire tower. Built in 1939, the 27 foot steel tower was built to watch for forest fires. Visitors can climb the tower and look in all directions. During my visit I climbed to the top of the tower. The view was incredible, and it was a great place to take pictures. I had a great time learning about the history of the mountain.
Miller has something to offer everyone. The auto road offers a great opportunity for all to get to the summit of the mountain. The summit is a great place to view the surrounding landscape. The Fire tower is a great way to experience the history of the park. The hiking trails allow visitors a unique experience. Miller has something for everyone.