Summer is the most fleeting of the New England seasons, so take a moment to bask in the sunshine and just breathe deep and enjoy the moment. If you want to make the most of the warm weather, take another moment to plan a couple of things to do in the great outdoors.
photo credit: Jonwmcinenrey
A hike up Mount Monadnock (elevation 3,165 feet) or its little sister, Pack Monadnock (elevation 2,290 feet), is a great place to start. The views at both summits are spectacular, but heights aside, there are some significant differences between the two locations. Mount Monadnock is one of the most visited summits in the world, so don’t go there craving solitude. And Pack Monadnock may be shorter, but it’s also steeper. Plan your hike according to your abilities.
When you come down from the mountain, check out these other outdoor opportunities, too.
- Equal Rights for Rhododendrons. Did you know New Hampshire has a state park devoted to rhododendrons? For hundreds of years, a patch of rhododendrons has been thriving in an area of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. When their survival was threatened by a lumber operation in the early 1900s, rhododendron activists swung into action to save them. Thanks to their efforts, you can enjoy the natural beauty of these flowering bushes at the Rhododendron State Park. They’ll be in bloom around mid-July.
- The 42-Mile Day. Allow yourself one whole day to explore all 42 miles of the Cheshire Rail Trail. You can hike, bike, or even “horseback” the dirt trail that runs all the way from Fitzwilliam to North Walpole, New Hampshire. You’ll have the Ashuelot River for company. You’ll cross a lovely stone arch bridge located off Court Street in Keene, and you’ll feel the refreshing cool air that flows through cuts of granite in northern Troy.
- From Sacrifice to Sanctuary. Sibyl and Douglas Sloane III lost their son Sandy to the horrors of World War II. But they turned their loss into our gain by creating Cathedral of the Pines. Located in Rindge, New Hampshire, the unique cathedral without walls and its Altar of the Nation was recognized by Congress in 1957 as a national memorial to all who sacrifice their lives in service to the country. The site covers 236 acres, offers panoramic views of Grand Monadnock, and multiple sanctuaries and monuments.
- From Ashes to Blueberries. A 1941 forest fire on Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, New Hampshire, wiped out all the vegetation on the top of the mountain. As compensation, however, Mother Nature replaced the loss with thousands of wild blueberry bushes. They are there for the picking from mid-July through Labor Day, but there are also trails to hike and a fire tower to climb up for even better views. Much of the acreage at the summit is owned by the state, but some of the property is also owned by the folks at Pitcher Mountain Farm. They are best known for their long-haired Scottish Highland cattle.
- Wildlife Refuge. All you birding enthusiasts need to explore the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge located on the north side of Pack Monadnock. The 1,600-acre refuge is along the path of migrating hawks and is also a nesting area for a variety of migratory songbirds. If mammals are more to your liking, be on the lookout for deer, bear, coyotes, minks, and weasels. The site offers four hiking trails, including the 21-mile Wapack Trail. A branch of the Appalachian Trail, the Wapack crosses the top of North Pack Monadnock—your best bet for spotting hawks.