Reflections on Mount Monadnock

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

View of Mount Monadnock from the summit of Miller State Park. Pack Monadnock offers a perfect location to watch the sunset over Mount Monadnock during the summer. I recommend this location for sunset, as it is easier to hike up and down the road to the summit than taking a trail on the way down in the dark.

Working as an Interpretive Ranger with the Student Conservation Association at Mount Monadnock State Park has truly been a privilege. I am grateful for all of the park staff who have made me feel welcome here as well as the numerous park visitors who helped me to create a memorable summer.

Quickly, I found that through my interactions that there are many people who climb Mount Monadnock and take on the challenge regularly. There is a sense of community here, and people care about their experience while hiking on the trails. There is also a great deal of first time hikers too and I think that is why Mount Monadnock is such a great place to visit; it appeals to all levels of hikers and offers challenging trails as well as moderate trails for inexperienced hikers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most frequently asked questions this summer were “Where is the trash can?” and “What hiking trails do you recommend?” New Hampshire State Parks have a “carry-in carry-out” policy so we do not have any trash cans available for use. The best practice is to put your trash in your car before hiking up the mountain or carry it in your bag as you hike. This helps the park to maintain clean and safe trails. There are over 40 miles of trails on Mount Monadnock and some are easier to follow than others. The park offers clearly marked trails which visitors can take that are frequently used, such as the White Dot and White Cross Trails, as well as some trails which are more serene and secluded such as trails leading to Monte Rosa and Bald Rock.

Throughout Monadnock State Park, wildlife can be spotted, including a “regular” who hung around the trailhead of the White Dot and White Cross.

Mount Monadnock has some heavily trafficked trails and I have learned throughout my time here that they have change significantly over the past 50 years. Even in one short summer, I have watched numerous trees become scarred with vandalism as people carved into their bark. This is saddening to see, and it leaves a lasting impact on future generations in the park.

This tree was subjected to vandalism this summer, located about the Upper Junction of the White Dot and White Cross trails. It was heart-breaking to come upon and I can only hope that people will learn to love nature and every aspect of it, including the trees. Unlike in the Wizard of Oz, trees on Mount Monadnock are not able to fight back and subjected to injuries. Do not be this person. Please help us to protect the trees here and say something if you see someone trying to harm a tree.

Pumpelly Cave

One special place on the Mountain, which people may wonder about is Pumpelly Cave. Pumpelly Cave is a man-made shelter which can be found along the Pumpelly Trail, however I will not disclose the location, as finding it is part of the fun! This past summer, park staff recognized that Pumpelly Cave was in need of some care as it has been vandalized by previous visitors of the cave. Mountain Patrol members worked hard to clean up the cave and a notice was place in the cave to alert explorers to leave the cave as they found it.

Photo Credit: Kamryn Call – Mountain Patrol Rangers from left to right, Matt, Kamryn, and Liam helping to clean out Pumpelly cave. They filled up multiple large trash bags with things left behind and worked to clean graffiti off of the walls.
Photo Credit: Kamryn Call – Before photograph of inside of Pumpelly Cave. It was in need of removal of trash left behind as well as general cleaning. Thank you to Mount Monadnock’s Mountain Patrol Rangers for cleaning up the cave.
Photo Credit: Kamryn Call – After photograph of the work done to clean up Pumpelly Cave. It is important that future visitors respect the cave and help to keep it in the condition that they found it in so that others can enjoy this unique location on the mountain.

Gilson Pond Campground

One of my favorite places to spend time at while working at Mount Monadnock is Gilson Pond. Gilson Pond is Monadnock’s family campground, offering 35 car camping sites as well as 5 remote sites which can be hiked into. Gilson Pond is located within the campground and is a short walk from any campsite. It offers spectacular views of the Pumpelly ridge-line of Mount Monadnock. There are also numerous wildlife which call this pond their home. In previous hikes, I have seen beavers, river otters, salamander, frogs, and owls. I highly recommend camping here at Gilson Pond and checking out the pond loop trail during your stay.

Salamander spotted during a rainy evening walk around Gilson Pond.
River Otters spotted along the trail near a bridge at Gilson Pond.

I hope that you are inspired to visit Mount Monadnock and explore all that the mountain has to offer. You truly never know what wildlife you may have to privilege to experience, it is important to always be prepared and remember that we share the trails with other hikers as well as wildlife.

If you chose to come and hike at Monadnock State Park, it is good to have a reservation as the park can become quite busy in the summertime. You can find information on reserving a parking spot at headquarters or Old Toll Road Trailhead by clicking Here. Monadnock State Park is open year-round, however it is important to have proper climbing gear during wintertime conditions.

See you on the mountain in the future! Happy Trails.


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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