Miller State Park: The Complete Guide

Miller State Park

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Miller State Park

Address
13 Miller Park Rd, Peterborough, NH 03458, USA
Phone +1 603-924-3672

New Hampshire's oldest state park may lack name recognition outside of the Monadnock Region, but avid birdwatchers, hikers, and fall foliage seekers should put this mountaintop destination in Peterborough on their radar. Created in 1891, Miller State Park was named after James Miller, an Army brigadier general during the War of 1812 who went on to become the first territorial governor of Arkansas.

Initially only three acres in size, the park has grown to encompass 533 acres through additional land donations and acquisitions. Those original three acres atop the 2,290-foot Pack Monadnock (also known as South Pack Monadnock) are, however, still the park's centerpiece.

Even if you've never heard of Miller State Park, you may be familiar with New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock. The 3,165-foot peak is reputed to be the most climbed mountain in North America and, after Japan's famous Mount Fuji, the second-most climbed mountain in the world. From the summit of Pack Monadnock, views of Mount Monadnock are majestic in every season, particularly in the fall when colorful leaves brighten the landscape. Even better: These views are accessible to everyone, not just those with the skills and stamina to make the climb. Here's your guide to making the most of your Miller State Park adventure.

Miller State Park Fire Tower

Kim Knox Beckius

Things to Do

Getting to the summit of Pack Monadnock is the number one thing to do in Miller State Park, and with a 1.3-mile paved auto road that winds its way to the top, that's a fairly easy feat. Keep in mind that parking at the summit is limited; it is wise to make and pay for a parking reservation in advance, particularly during fall foliage season and on holidays and weekends. Reservations can be made online up to 30 days before your visit. If you arrive without a reservation and parking is available, you may be asked to pull aside and book one online before you drive up; that said, it's easiest to take care of this step before you set out from your home or accommodation.

Of course, hiking to the top of Pack Monadnock is also an option. (Pack means "little" in the language of the Abenaki Native Americans who first came to the region.) A climb will take you less time than the four to five hours required to hike up and down Mount Monadnock.

However you reach the summit, be sure to climb up the stairs of the fire tower atop Pack Monadnock for a bird's-eye view. This 41-foot-tall steel tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1939 and underwent restoration in 2005. On clear days, you might spy the Boston skyline (55 miles southeast), or even detect the outline of New England's highest peak, Mount Washington (about 100 miles north).

Miller State Park is also a scenic place to picnic. All-day Sunday picnics were a tradition in the park's early years, when families trekked up the mountain in horse-drawn wagons. In the fall, birdwatchers gather to view migrating birds of prey like falcons, hawks, and osprey. New Hampshire Audubon typically runs a raptor observatory staffed with experts who can help you identify these majestic birds.

Wapack Trail Sign

Kim Knox Beckius

Hikes & Trails

From the parking area inside the Miller State Park entrance, the most popular hike to the summit is along a 1.4-mile segment of the 21-mile, yellow-blazed Wapack Trail. This is a moderate to challenging climb that will take you two to three hours round trip. Alternatively, hike up the 1.4-mile, blue-blazed Marion Davis Trail. Many hikers enjoy choosing one of these two routes up and the other for their descent. For a different perspective, hike up the western slope of Pack Monadnock on the 1.6-mile Raymond Trail; the trailhead is located on East Mountain Road.

From the summit, additional hikes include a short Summit Loop that showcases views, the 0.6-mile Spruce Knoll Trail, and a section of the Wapack Trail. The latter is 2.3 miles from the peak of Pack Monadnock to the peak of North Pack Monadnock; the trail descends an additional 1.5 miles to Old Mountain Road.

This Miller State Park elevation and trail map will help you plan your hiking day.

Where to Camp

Camping is not permitted in Miller State Park, and the surrounding Monadnock Region of New Hampshire is surprisingly lacking in outdoorsy accommodations. There are options, though, once you choose a compass direction. 

  • Snug Life Camping: 8 miles east of Miller State Park in Wilton, Snug Life Camping offers a private, riverfront campsite that is bookable via Airbnb.
  • Seven Maples Campground: 13 miles northwest of the park in the village of Hancock, Seven Maples Campground is a family-owned spot with a variety of pet-friendly campsites, hookups, and cabins to suit your preferences. In business since 1965, they offer family-friendly amenities, too, including a heated swimming pool with slides, rec hall, playgrounds, trout fishing pond, and kayak rentals.
  • Woodmore Campground: This 23-acre RV park and campground is 14 miles southwest of the park in Rindge, on the shores of Lake Contoocook. A family tradition since 1965, Woodmore is a pet-friendly camping destination that offers a swimming pool, arcade, playground, Wiffle ball field, and boat rentals.

Where to Stay Nearby

There are several relatively affordable inns within an easy drive of Miller State Park:

  • The Greenfield Inn: This mountain-view mansion has eight room choices, such as the Ski Lodge, which comes with a fireplace and its own private kitchen. Rates include a continental breakfast. It's located 11 miles away in Greenfield.
  • The Birchwood Inn and Tavern: Located in Temple, a five-minute drive from Miller State Park, this inn traces its history back to 1775. Stay in one of three suites, and you won't have to venture out for farm-inspired comfort food and an excellent beer selection.
  • Woodbound Inn: In Rindge, near Cathedral of the Pines, this pet-friendly destination inn has its own private beach on Lake Contoocook.
  • Monadnock Inn: About 12 miles from the park in Jaffrey, this gracious country inn has 11 individually furnished rooms.

How to Get There

You'll want a car for your trip to the Monadnock Region in southwestern New Hampshire. The main entrance to the park is located off New Hampshire Route 101, at 13 Miller Park Road. There is an admission fee of $4 for adults, and $2 for children ages 6 to 11. New Hampshire residents age 65 and over are admitted free, as are kids under 6.

Accessibility

Vehicle access makes it possible for individuals of all abilities to reach the paved summit of Pack Monadnock, with many parking spaces overlooking mountain vistas. The fire tower at the summit has many stairs to climb, however. Call the park office at 603-924-3672 with any specific questions you may have about accessibility needs.

Tips for Your Visit

  • When you're at the summit of Pack Monadnock, this handy diagram, which may also be available as a handout at the park, will orient you and help you identify mountains and places.
  • Bring binoculars to view raptors flying overhead, particularly during the fall migration season.
  • If you will be a frequent visitor to New Hampshire State Parks this year, consider purchasing an individual or family pass, valid for unlimited admission at day-use parks that charge a per-person fee (with a few exclusions).
  • Leashed dogs are permitted in the park and on its trails.
Article Sources
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  1. New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. "Native American Heritage." Retrieved on September 13, 2021.

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New Hampshire's Miller State Park is a Place for Peak Views