Location: Off Route 11, Wilmot, NH
Activities: Hiking, picnicking
Amenities: Picnic tables, fire tower
Acreage: Part of Kearsarge Mountain State Forest, 4,965 acres
Number of Campsites: None
More Information: Day-Use
Winslow State Park is located on the northwest slope of Mt. Kearsarge in Wilmot, New Hampshire. The picnic area is on an 1,820-foot plateau with outstanding views of the White Mountains to the north and the taller of the southern and central Vermont peaks. Mt. Sunapee, Ragged Mountain and Pleasant Lake dominate the closer landscape. A one-mile foot trail leads from the picnic area to the summit of Mt.Kearsarge. Also a 1 3/4 mile trailer offers a loop possibility.
Winslow State Park is named for a nineteenth century hotel, the Winslow House. The hotel was located in what is now the park's picnic area. A cellar hole is all that remains of the hotel that was named in honor of Admiral John Winslow who was commander of the USS Kearsarge during the Civil War. The Kearsarge was built in Portsmouth and constructed of lumber milled from trees cut on Mt. Kearsarge. The USS Kearsarge sank the confederate ship Alabama in a decisive battle off the French coast. The victory helped to keep European countries from entering the war on the side of the confederates. Admiral Winslow became a national hero and the USS Kearsarge was known throughout the country. The hotel burned once and was rebuilt. By the end of the century it proved unprofitable, was abandoned and burned to the ground. In 1933 William B. Douglas gave twenty acres, including the cellar hole, to the state as a memorial to the actress Katherine Raynor. The property abutted lands already in state ownership. The site became a state park in 1935.
Located in Warner and Wilmot, New Hampshire, 2,937- foot Mt. Kearsarge, one of the oldest mountains in the state, is the home of both Winslow and Rollins state parks. Because of its easy accessibility from the parks and outstanding summit vistas, Mt. Kearsarge is a popular family hiking destination. Views include nearby Sunapee, Ragged and Cardigan mountains and more distant Mt. Monadnock and Ascutney. On very clear days views extend to the White Mountains, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Atlantic Ocean and Boston.
The exposed granite summit is a good place to see evidence of past glacial activity. During the glacial period more than 25,000 years ago, a great ice sheet more than a mile thick moved over Kearsarge and much of New Hampshire. Glacial striations, grooves cut in rock by the movement of glacial ice, can be seen on the summit, as well as on ledge outcroppings in the Winslow picnic area. In addition, large boulders called glacial erratics, can be seen from the trails. The mass of ice was powerful enough to move the boulders which were left behind when the ice sheet retreated. The bare summit is the result of a 1796 forest fire which burned the vegetation and exposed the soil to wind and water erosion.
Governor Endicott of the Massachussetts Bay Colony made an exploration of the New Hampshire wilderness to find the source of the Merrimack River in 1652. Members of the expedition are believed to be the first Europeans to see Mt. Kearsarge. It is shown as "Carasarga" on the map they produced, believed to be a name derived from a Native American word meaning "notch-pointed-mountain of pines. The evolution of the mountain's name has included "Kyasarge" in the 1749 chaRouter for Perrystown ( now Sutton), "Chi a Sarge" in a 1755 Perrytown's proprietors meeting, and "Kyar Sarga" on a 1774 map. "Kearsarge" appeared on an 1816 map of Merrimack County.