Pack Monadnock Mountain in Southern NH is famous for its nature trails, and scenic views. It's the highest summit on the Wapack Trail, the first interstate trail system in the U.S. This 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield.
We enjoyed some great views for awhile, before the rainstorm arrived.
The unusual name is believed to originate from the Abenaki, Native American Indians who settled in the area. According to local tradition, the word pack is a Native American word for little and monadnock is used to describe an isolated mountain summit. Pack (or little) Monadnock refers to its relationship to the higher Mount Monadnock which is 3,165 feet and 11 miles to the West.
Pack Monadnock has a paved auto road This winding 1.3-mile road that leads to the scenic summit is open in summer and on spring and fall weekends. Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under. And in all NH State parks, NH residents age 65+ (like ourselves) are admitted free. No camping is allowed.
Three main hiking trails ascend Pack Monadnock to the summit. All three trails are similar in length (1.5 to 2.0 miles each way) and moderately difficult with some steep pitches. Any trail can be completed as a loop or an out-and-back. The auto-road can be walked or driven. We didn't hike during our visit. Grenville was on the mountain for a ham radio activation. I did a (very) brief exploration of nearby trails, but didn't venture far off the trails due to posted warnings about ticks and poison ivy.
I read that many years ago two hotels were located; however there was no historical evidence to show their locations. Today, a renovated fire tower at the summit provides a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside including Mount Monadnock.
Other peaks and hills of southern NH and adjacent MA can be viewed, Mount Monadnock, Mount Kearsarge, Mount Cardigan, Mount Watatic, Mount Watchusett, and the Boston skyline. On clear days, the views reach Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S., Boston skyscrapers, and hills in VT.
We're planning a return trip later this fall and hope to see migrating raptors at the park's Raptor Observatory hosted by NH Audubon. Audubon members staff the summit through the beginning of November to count raptors and discuss the project with visitors.
A series of rainstorms were on the way, so we made a quick retreat down the mountain.