As a pedestrian, I like to take advantage of the auto road up Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park during off-hours, when the gate is closed to auto traffic. Sometimes I’d just rather reach the summit on smooth pavement instead of using the trails in the woods. I recently made the trip as late afternoon was shading into evening.
The road’s uphill grade gave me a bit of a workout, even at my modest pace. I’m discovering that a pair of trekking poles can be helpful to me no matter how smooth the terrain. My poles and I made it to the picnic area at the summit about 35 minutes after leaving the parking lot, covering a bit under a mile and a half of road with 700 feet of elevation gain.
Gold and bronze leaves caught the setting sun and made the woods glow.
The Boston skyline was lost in haze, except for one of the Back Bay skyscrapers situated at just the right angle to reflect the sun’s rays. It was probably the glassy Hancock building, which I know has a different name now – but it will always be the Hancock building to me.
Mount Monadnock – the Grand Monadnock – is only a few miles away. The view of it from the picnic area at the summit of Pack Monadnock is almost clichéd; everyone takes a photo from the same spot. I’m no exception. The colors of the sky vary with the season and the time of day. Sometimes the view is hazy and sometimes it’s crystal clear. However many pictures I’ve taken there, no two are identical.
I love finding historical markers on my walks, and there’s a new one atop Pack Monadnock in honor of Miller State Park. Almost all of the New Hampshire markers are placed along state highways, but this one rated a special spot. Route 101 gets you to the park, but you’ll have to drive or hike to the summit to see the marker.
I got to the park too late in the day to join the autumn raptor migration count that takes place on Pack Monadnock daily, sponsored by New Hampshire Audubon and the Harris Center in Hancock. It’s a fascinating event that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area this time of year. Bring the kids!
The park’s $4 admission fee is a bargain. I put my donation in an envelope and dropped it in the iron ranger, which is a donation box visitors can use when there’s no attendant on duty. For visits during the park’s regular hours, I advise checking the New Hampshire State Parks website first; reservations might be advisable on busy days.
Several of the state parks have auto roads to featured vistas, and they each make for a pleasant drive. My favorite way to enjoy those roads, though, is on foot in the early morning or late afternoon, when the gate is closed and there are no cars around. Autumn with its moderate weather is prime time for a visit.