Giving back to NH’s most-climbed mountain
SUPERLATIVES for Mount Monadnock are endless. New Hampshire’s beloved “most-climbed” peak projects a stature including an artistic and literary reputation taller than its 3,165-foot summit elevation.
Monadnock is nearly 1,000 feet higher than any other peak within 30 miles. The mountain has inspired artists, musicians and writers including Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson who had immortalized Monadnock. The mountain has cast a long shadow for centuries.
Monadnock is also renowned as the second-most-frequently-climbed mountain on Earth. It attracts an estimated 125,000 hikers annually, second only to Japan’s Mount Fuji, which claims more than 200,000 hikers annually.
The name “Monadnock” is allegedly derived from the indigenous Abenaki name meaning “mountain that stands alone.”
The Forest Society owns the majority of the land on Monadnock — more than 4,500 acres held in the public interest. Monadnock is the Forest Society’s largest forest reservation and is leased, in part, to the New Hampshire Department of Parks and Recreation.
This week, the 16th annual Monadnock Trails Week begins on Friday. Annual volunteer efforts, with assistance from professional trail crews, help maintain and improve busy trails for the thousands of people seeking yearround hiking opportunities.
Recreational trails include associated amenities: remote parking areas, gates, signs and information kiosks. The impact of hiking traffic requires installation of drainage features — water bars, dips and drains — as well as “tread way” improvements such as bog bridges or stone staircases and rebuilding features that keep hikers on the trail.
Some suggest that people are “loving the mountain to death.” Yet those continually drawn to our forests and mountain trails are also the best hope for the long-term financial and political future of public parks and private conservation lands. The next generation of conservation leaders should have opportunities to become involved now. People are the solution, not the problem.
Efforts to maintain and improve popular trails on Monadnock and adjacent Gap Mountain require a diverse community of volunteers to care for the land. The trails community does not “stand alone,” but is part of a concerted effort to attract new advocates and new volunteers.
The Forest Society is working to welcome, expand and embrace residents and new visitors alike — those drawn to Monadnock and drawn together through the shared interest in protecting and improving hiking at Monadnock. The outdoors belongs to everyone.
Forest Society and State Parks staff, along with other experienced trail work leaders, will guide volunteers in multiple projects throughout the course of the Trails Week, including work on the White Arrow Trail, Marlboro Trail, Gap Mountain trails, as well as various trailhead improvement projects. The work continues through Tuesday, July 26.
“Monadnock Trails Week is not just about getting out on the trails for maintenance projects. It’s about celebrating a mountain that has been a gathering spot and symbol of the surrounding community for centuries,” states Andy Crowley, stewardship projects manager for the Forest Society. “If you have not volunteered for trail maintenance yet or come out to join us at one of our gatherings, come out and give it a try. You will leave dirty, tired, satisfied and with a new appreciation of every step you take on a trail, as well as learn about some great local businesses, and even make a new friend or two.”
Knowing not all hikers have the ability to carry heavier tools up a mountain, a series of trailhead improvement crews will work to clean up parking areas, cut back brush, repaint information kiosks, gates, fee collection boxes, and generally improve what visitors see when they first arrive. This opportunity is open to all.
Volunteers are needed and welcome throughout Trails Week. Forest Society and State Parks leaders will be running multiple volunteer trail crews each day.
Volunteer workdays run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a lunch break at the project site. Trailhead improvement crews and roving photographer volunteers have a more flexible schedule.
All project sites are a half-mile or less from the trailhead, and volunteers receive discounts from participating local restaurants and businesses.
No experience is required. Staff will provide hand tools and training for your project. But volunteers should bring a daypack, water, snack, lunch, gloves (if you have them), sunscreen, bug repellent, and raingear. Wear closed-toe shoes or hiking boots, long pants, and sweat-wicking clothes that can get dirty.
Volunteers will receive a pair of limited edition 2022 bright yellow Forest Society and State Parks logo work gloves.
For more information, visit forestsociety. org/monadnock-trails-week.
If you have questions, contact Andy Crowley at acrowley@forestsociety. org or call 603-224-9945 extension 332.
Naturalist Dave Anderson is senior director of education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.