Question: What did one autumn leaf say to another?
Answer: I'm falling for you.
As fall begins, the public falls more in love with Monadnock.
While enjoying a hike this week, I noticed that many of the maple leaves were starting to turn red, a sure sign that the busy season is about to begin! Unlike most parks around the state, who welcome most of their visitors throughout the summer, Monadnock doesn’t truly start heating up until the weather cools down. The school groups begin their yearly treks, the city-folks arrive to breathe crisp mountain air, and the leaf peepers travel from across the country. People are everywhere! And you will find most of them heading to the summit on the White Dot Trail.
While there are many trails that will bring you to the summit, coming to Monadnock without taking the White Dot at least once is to miss out on being part of something big. Monadnock is easily the most hiked mountain in the country and the White Dot brings 80% of its visitors to the top. By walking this trail, you will see what thousands of others have seen since its creation 113 years ago. The crowds may seem overwhelming at first, but once you embrace them, you will realize that the people around you can greatly enhance your experience. It is something quite spectacular when you realize the three families closest to you hail from Quebec, China, and North Dakota.
The White Dot trail was created in 1900 by Dr. Emersons Paine, his three sons, and William Royce with the idea that it would be an easier way to the summit for the visitors of the Ark Hotel (now the Monadnock Bible Conference). Legend has it, William Royce helped break in his new trail by riding his horse all the way to the summit! A century later, with the additions of the State Park Headquarters, Poole Road, and modern amenities, the trail remains the fastest and most popular route to the summit.
Here are a few interesting things I have noticed while hiking the White Dot:
- The “Tree House” -
This massive hollowed-out tree can be found in the lower section of the White Dot below the first White Dot/White Cross Junction. It is great for kids and adults alike, because let’s face it, who doesn’t love taking their picture inside of a giant tree?
- Falcon Spring -
When you reach the junction where the White Dot, White Cross and Cascade Link trails intersect, look to your left and you will see a smaller footpath. This footpath will lead you to Falcon Spring, where you can find the most delicious water you have ever tasted. Don’t worry, it is perfectly safe to drink! The spring is named after William M. Falconer, who in 1912 became the first State Fire Warden to live in a tiny structure upon Monadnock’s summit. So be sure to stop here on your way up and re-fill your water bottle, because as a prepared hiker, you are definitely staying hydrated!
- The Hard Work -
While hiking, it is sometimes easy to get tunnel vision. So while making your way to the summit, take a moment to appreciate the hard work that goes into keeping these trails in good condition. Believe it or not, but when this trail was first created by Paine, Royce, and Co. it was a simple dirt path. After the erosion caused by millions of hikers, it has become the bare rock, large enough for a car, trail you see today. So please help keep the trail from further eroding by staying on the trail throughout your entire visit.
-The First View-
When you finally make it above tree-line and experience the first view, you will understand why you endured all of that huffing and puffing up the mountain. I have never met a hiker who said the view wasn’t worth it.
-The Vernal Pools-
All of those big puddles near the top of the mountain are actually important animal habitats! You can often find a frog or salamander hanging out, but please be respectful and observe them from a distance. It is important not to cause too much disturbance to these fragile habitats. If you see a MERE volunteer from Antioch University or SCA Interpreter be sure to stop and ask them more about the mountain’s vernal pools!
These are just a few of the amazing things to be seen on the White Dot! I encourage you to be on the look-out for more while enjoying your hike. Make sure to share what you find, we would love to hear about it!
So come “fall” in love with Monadnock. I know I already have.
By: Kelsey Johnson, Interpretive Ranger at Monadnock State Park
Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association 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.