Miller State Park was New Hampshire’s first state park and it’s still a little gem. It’s unpretentious and doesn’t try to be too many things – basically this park is Pack Monadnock Mountain, which has lovely views of the surrounding area from the fire tower on its summit.
What makes it special is that there are two ways to get to the top: by trail or by a 1.3 mile paved auto road. There is plenty of room at the top for parking so that even on a very hot Saturday in July it was not at all crowded. There are picnic tables and a small shelter on the top, and there is even running water if you forgot to bring enough.
I saw quite a few folks who had biked to the top too (the elevation gain is only 840 feet) but my choice was to hike it. There are two choices of trail from the parking lot – the rocky scramble called the Wapack trail which contains the views and the more leisurely Marion Davis trail which is gentler and woodsy. The ranger recommended ascending on the Wapack and descending the Marion Davis and that was good advice.
The Wapack trail is one of those funny trails in which yellow markers show you which direction to head but it’s completely up to you to figure out which rocks to scramble over. It’s the kind of trail that’s a lot of fun for an energetic youngster, although I wouldn’t recommend it for small children or small dogs. It was dry when I visited so I don’t know how slippery the rocks would be on a wet day.
The other bonus with the Wapack trail is that you almost immediately get some nice views towards Mt. Monadnock. So even if you have just a few minutes to hike you can still have a rewarding one.
The descent on the Marion Davis trail was comparatively uneventful but, as the ranger said, a good way to cool down. Both trails are listed at 1.4 miles so the choice is completely up to you.
So admittedly there’s no camping here and no lake to cool down in, but this park doesn’t pretend to be more than what it is – a delightful easily-accessible mountain with some fun trails and nice views. If you’re lucky, the fire tower will be manned and you can chat with the caretaker, too. It’s a great family destination for an hour or two and I recommend it. Happy travels!