Location: Rte 101E, Peterborough, NH
Activities: Hiking, picnicking
Amenities: Picnic tables, NH auto road to summit
This park is always open for recreation unless closed or restricted by posting. During off hours and the off-season the park is typically not staffed, comfort stations are not available and gates may be closed. The off-season poses unique risks inherent when participating in outdoor recreational activities. Please be aware that many State Park areas and trails are not staffed during the off-season, and day-use fees are not collected. Recreationists should possess the necessary knowledge, skill, and equipment to ensure their own safety. Users assume all risk while recreating in State Park lands.
Pets: Pets are permitted in Miller State Park.
Acreage: 533 acres
Number of Campsites: None
More Information: Day-Use
Located on the 2,290-foot summit and flank of Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, Miller is the oldest state park in New Hampshire. A winding 1.3-mile paved road leading to the scenic summit is open for visitors to drive in summer and on spring and fall weekends. Picnicking and hiking are popular activities at the scenic mountain park. Three main hiking trails ascend Pack Monadnock to the summit. The best known is the Wapack Trail, which is a 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield.
A fire tower, no longer used for detecting fires, affords a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Mount Monadnock, 3,165 feet high, can be seen standing alone twelve miles to the west. It is believed Native Americans named the area's mountains, and that "pack" means little. Other peaks and hills of southern New Hampshire and adjacent Massachusetts can also be seen. On clear days views reach to Mount Washington, the skyscrapers of Boston and the Vermont hills. Miller is a carry in - carry out park. Please carry your trash home with you and dispose of it properly.
New Hampshire's first state park was created in 1891 when Charles F. Melendy and Austin A. Spofford deeded a three-acre tract of land on the summit of South Pack Monadnock to the state. The following year the park was dedicated in memory of General James Miller, a hero of the Battle of Lundy's Lane in the War of 1812.
In the early years, all-day Sunday picnics at the summit were a popular pastime. Families would arrive by horse and wagon, with lunches packed in wooden cheese boxes, gallon jugs and milk cans. In winter people enjoyed sledding, skiing and snowshoeing on the mountain. Until 1901 cattle were driven by foot from Massachusetts farms to the park for summer grazing on what was then open pasture extending nearly to the summit.
A hotel called the Pioneer House was built in 1892 on a ridge on the southwest side of the mountain. Unprofitable for its first proprietor, George F. Barker, the business was sold three years after opening. The hotel burned to the ground in 1896, and a new, smaller structure was erected in its place. The new building was anchored to the rocks by iron rods and chains. It was used as a hunting lodge until it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. The building was destroyed by fire in 1924, but the foundation remains visible today.
In 1939 a twenty-seven foot steel tower, topped with a wooden lookout cabin was erected to be used as a forest fire watch tower. The cabin no longer exists, but visitors can still climb the tower to enjoy the views.
General James Miller
James Miller was born in 1776 in Peterborough, New Hampshire, a town just west of the park. In 1804 he opened a law office in Greenfield where he practiced for four years. During that time he joined the Hancock Artillery, a branch of the New Hampshire militia.
An efficient and disciplined drill master, young Miller attracted the attention of Brigadier General Benjamin Pierce who appointed him a major in the 4th U.S. Infantry in 1808. Miller left his law practice to join his regiment stationed in Boston.
During the War of 1812 at the Battle of Lundy's Lane near Niagara, New York, Miller was ordered by General Jacob Jennings Brown to storm a battery of seven British cannons positioned on a hilltop. Miller's reply to General Brown, "I'll try, sir," became forever linked with his name.
On the night of the battle that would earn him a promotion to brigadier general, Miller secretly led his regiment of three hundred men up the hill. Shrubbery and a rail fence offered protection while Miller planned the attack. With quick action he ordered his men to fire. Miller and his regiment successfully charged and overtook the battery. Miller wrote a letter to his wife, Ruth, describing the battle . . . We fought hand to hand for some time, so close that the blaze of our guns crossed each other, but we compelled them to abandon their whole artillery, ammunition, wagons, and all . . .General Brown told me, the moment he saw me, that I had immortalized myself."
In September of 1814, General Miller helped protect Fort Erie from British invasion. For his accomplishments in this fierce battle, he received a gold medal from the United States Congress. The award was presented to him by Daniel Webster at City Hall Park in New York City. Miller was also honored with the gift of a dress sword from the state of New York.
Miller resigned his army commission in 1819 and accepted the appointed position of Governor of the Territory of Arkansas. By 1823 poor health forced him to return home to a farm he had bought in Temple, New Hampshire. A year later, his health restored, he became collector of customs for the ports of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, a position he held for twenty-four years. He retired to his farm where he lived until his death in 1851.
Hikers are welcome on the trails of Miller State Park year-round. Three trails provide hikers access from the base to the summit.
The Wapack Trail (yellow blazes), a 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, New Hampshire, traverses the summit of Pack Monadnock. From the Route 101 parking area at the base of the auto road, to the summit via the Wapack Trail is 1.4 miles. North of Pack Monadnock the Wapack Trail continues 3.8 miles through the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge, over North Pack Monadnock to Old Mountain Road.
The Raymond Trail (white blazes) begins on the west side of the mountain on East Mountain Road. The 1.6 mile trail was constructed cooperatively by Peterborough Boy Scout Troop 808 and the Peterborough Conservation Commission. It reaches the summit at the picnic area just north of the parking area.
The Marion Davis Trail (blue blazes) begins at the Route 101 parking area at the base of the auto road. It climbs 1.4 miles to the summit.