With its 5,000 acres of protected highlands, 3,165-foot Mt. Monadnock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1987. There are forty miles of clearly marked foot trails, many of which lead to the bare rock summit through unique alpine vegetation. Unsurpassed 100 mile views to points in all six New England states are the reward for a climb. A magnet for hikers, Monadnock is said to be the second most frequently climbed mountain in the world, after Japan's Mt. Fuji. Approximately 14 miles of the trail system in the lower elevations offers ski touring for the experienced cross country skier.
The main trail up Monadnock starts at the end of a paved road. Trail information and maps are posted near the visitor center at the start of the trail. The Monadnock Visitor Center offers interesting exhibits on various aspects of the park's history, ecology and trails. Monadnock State Park is a carry in - carry out park site. Please carry home what you carry in. Remember there are no facilities available on the mountain. Pets are not allowed in the park or on the mountain.
Monadnock, which comes originally from the Abnacki Native American word for mountain that stands alone, is now a standard geological term for any singular mountain that rises above the surrounding plain. This area has a rich cultural history and a tradition of providing inspiration for the works of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain and Abbott Thayer. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the state's oldest nonprofit conservation organization, founded in 1901, is the major landowner on Mt. Monadnock. It holds more than 3,500 acres in the public interest. The Monadnock acquisition program, begun in 1910, is still continuing. Lands on Monadnock are leased to the state for management purposes.
The park is open year-round, with recreational use during daylight hours only.
The quiet camping area at the base of Mount Monadnock has 28 campsites. Ten of the sites are by reservation only; 7 are for youth group reservations; and 11 are for first-come/first-served campers.
Even though Monadnock is considered to be one of the most climbed mountains in the world, there are typically available first-come/first-served peaceful campsites open in the campground.
Acreage: over 5,000 acres
Number of Campsites: 21 sites and 7 youth group sites
Pets: Pets are not permitted in the park or on the mountain.
Activities: Camping, hiking, picnicking
Amenities: Monadnock State Park Campground has flush toilets, running water, firewood, and a camp store located in the campground area. Showers are available.
Location: Off Route 124, Jaffrey
There are no highways that lead directly to the park. Whichever way you come from, you'll need to take some winding back roads to get to where you're going. while none of these are too big of a challenge, you should be comfortable maneuvering your vehicle around corners. Some roads are at elevation, and in the winter, snow can be an issue. Make sure you come prepared.
The quiet camping area at the base of Mt. Monadnock has 28 tent sites. There are flush toilets, running water, firewood and a camp store located in the campground area. Showers are available. The campground is open year-round, however, services are limited from November through March. Pit toilets are open during the winter, but water and firewood are not always available, and the campground road is not plowed. At least half the sites are kept available for those campers that prefer camping on a first come - first serve basis.
The 35 smaller sites at Gilson Pond offer space for tents and pop-up trailers. A handful of sites offer electrical hookups, but other than that, this is rustic camping. Still, there's a bathouse with showers and a playground to keep the kids occupied.
Monadnock State Park contains an impressive 40 miles of hiking trails, most of them based around the mountain that gives the park its name. Many of the trails lead towards the summit of The mountain That Stands Alone, so if you're looking for a calorie-burning, thigh-toning adventure, you've come to the right place. And with the help of some spikes, the hiking doesn't have to stop once the snow falls.
Mount Monadnock is often considered the second most climbed mountain in the world., after Japan's Mount Fuji. This is partly due to the fact that there's very little actual climbing involved. The trail up the mountain may be steep, but it can be walked by anyone in reasonable shape with a few hours to spare.
However, the last half-mile to the summit above the tree line is where things get a little technical. It's a scramble over bare rock to get from here to the summit. It won't challenge experienced mountaineers, but it's fun and rewarding nonetheless. And the views from the summit can be enjoyed by anyone.
From the summit of the mountain, it's possible to connect to the Monadnock-Sunapee Trail, a 51 mile designated hiking trail that leads to some of New Hampshire's most stunning scenery. If you're serious about hiking, this trail provides a multi-day excursion that you won't soon forget.
The presence of several lakes and rivers makes Monadnock State Park a great place to drop a line and see what you can catch. And if you stay at the Gilson Pond campground, you won't have to go far in order to do some fishing. Species that can be caught here include largemouth bass, lake trout,and rainbow trout. There's nothing better than hooking something for dinner fresh out of the lake and roasting it over the campfire. Just make sure you get your New Hampshire fishing license before you get started.
Monadnock State Park's trails are just as fun to explore on two wheels as they are on two feet. The hilly terrain of the mountain region create some challenging technical areas, along with a variety of tree roots and other natural jumps and hollows. Be aware, though, the bikes aren't allowed on all trails. Follow all posted signs and if in doubt, ask a ranger for advice.
Surrounded as it is by thousands of acres of protected highlands, Monadnock State Park is home to a wide variety of animal species, especially birds. Grab a pair of binoculars and a checklist and set out to see how many you can spot. Since dogs have been banned from the park, the native wildlife has made an astonishing comeback. You can expect to see black-capped chickadees, turkey vultures, hawks and even eagles during your visit to the park.
Despite the presence of the mountain, don't expect an Alpine-type skiing experience in Monadnock State Park. That doesn't mean there isn't plenty of fun to be had once the snow falls. With its network of trails and varied terrain, the state park makes a great place to do some cross-country skiing. 12 miles of trails on the lower slopes of the mountain offer a challenge for intermediate skiers. These trails aren't groomed and there are plenty of rocks, so you'll need to wait for 16 inches of snow or more. But at these elevations, that shouldn't be a problem.