Friday, January 20, 2012

Pack Monadnock

Two to three inches of beautiful powdery snow fell overnight, then the skies cleared and the temperature remained below freezing. This was one of the those perfect winter days, of which we've seen little of so far.

Kodi and I traveled to western Massachusetts today, taking the slower, scenic route along Route 101. We stopped at Miller State Park on the border of Temple and Peterborough in southern New Hampshire for a hike up to the summit of 2,290-foot Pack Monadnock. I was pleasantly surprised to see a State Park truck spreading sand at the entrance to the parking area when we arrived at mid-morning. The parking area was large and accessible even though the new snow had not been plowed. Two guys were just returning to their cars after hiking up and suggested some traction, so I strapped on the microspikes.

We opted for the 1.3 mile auto road that leads to the top of the mountain; it is gated in winter. The woods were beautiful in their fresh blanket of snow.

The auto road has a gentle grade that gets steeper near the top. We reached the summit within 45 minutes going at a relaxed pace. The summit looks like a small village with a fire tower, air monitoring station, cell towers, radio tower, picnic shelters and tables, and some other stuff. It must get a little claustrophobic in summer when people can drive to the top. Today though Kodi and I had the windswept peak and the views (including a clear view of Mount Monadnock) to ourselves.

As we started down I was startled by a truck driving up the road. Apparently the air monitoring station is monitored routinely so perhaps that was where they were headed. Here is a collage of some of the structures on top.

I'd like to return to this area in the warm season. The 21-mile Wapack Trail runs in both directions from this park and there appears to be some interesting lands in the vicinity including The Nature Conservancy's Joanne Bass Bross Preserve and the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge. A trail map for Miller State Park is available here. Our jaunt this morning took only 1 hour 15 minutes so it is a nice spot for a quick walk or you could spend all day exploring the greater surroundings. I plan to return.

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