There are just a few weeks when the wild rhododendron are blooming so you have to time your visit just right. Fortunately the state park employees had warned me that unlike the rhododendron growing in my yard, these ones won’t blossom until mid-July. Even better, their web site warned me that the bloom was earlier than usual this year so I had no time to lose. My visit was on July 14th and although the blossoms had already peaked there were still plenty to enjoy. Surprisingly, for a Saturday, I had the park to myself. What a treat!
I don’t need to go into detail about what this flower is all about and why it’s special in this state because that’s readily available elsewhere. Although the park web site contains useful information, I prefer the biodiversity brochure published on a different state web site. The trails are short, easy, and fun, and completely handicapped-accessible. I particularly like the ones where the rhododendron plants completely cover the trail.
All in all, the trails only add up to a little more than a half mile so a visit doesn’t need to take much time. I visited here after a hot hike up Pack Monadnock Mountain at Miller State Park just a few miles away, so this park is a nice way to cool down, or at least it would have been if I hadn’t decided to follow the 1-mile trail to Little Monadnock Mountain, which starts at the far end of the rhododendron grove. That’s just a 600-foot elevation gain from the park so it’s an easy hike. The first half of the trail was very well traveled as it is basically flat, but the usage diminishes noticeably in the second half when it begins to ascend. There’s a nice view of Mt Monadnock from where the trail joins the Metacomet-Monadnock trail, but going the last tenth of a mile to the summit wasn’t worth it. Because of the foliage, there was no view. Maybe it’s different when the leaves have fallen.
All in all, this is a good little park. You should probably sign up for the bloom reports for the best information on when to catch the blossoms. A picnic here might be a little buggy and, although I didn’t have any trouble, the ranger suggests plenty of bug dope. Here’s a little fellow who was enjoying the bugs: