Top Reasons to Experience Boating

19th Century boating

Image: 1812now.blogspot.com

Boating has been around for many years. Whether it is kayaking, canoeing, or being on a speedboat, it is something that you must experience to cool off from this summer heat. Here are a few reasons why you should experience boating.

Stress Reducer

Boat moving in water

Image: www.debberanproperties.com

School, work or errands can be stressful, but when you are out in the open water, it consumes all your attention. Stress can eventually take a toll on your body and it is important to stay healthy. The fresh air and Vitamin D will make you a happy boater!

Exercise

Boating and water skiing

Image: www.pinedaleonline.com

If you are feeling that you have no time to work out because you’re busy with your daily life, then boating is just the thing for you. Boating provides great exercise. Once you are on a boat, there are other activities you can do, such as swimming, fishing or waterskiing. You are also doing aerobics while canoeing, paddling or even kayaking. Boating releases natural endorphins, which are great for your health.

Bonding Time

Kids Jumping off boat into water

Image: www.citylifemagazine.ca

Recreational boating can bring your family together, away from the television and video games. Boating creates an atmosphere where you can create wonderful memories. It will also teach your family how to work in teams while docking and cruising.

Easy to Learn

Park Ranger Boating

Image: www.independentmail.com

Learning how to boat takes time and practice, but with the right motivation, anything is possible. There are many things you have to learn about boating including how to tie different types of rope knots. There are many park rangers at state parks that are willing to help and with your Pocket Ranger® app, you will be a boating expert in no time.

Water Access

Boat Ramp in state park

Image: www.lake-lewisville.org

Water Access is closer than you think. There are many state parks that have places to dock and that provide boat rentals of your choice. With a short drive, you can enjoy your mini vacation. With the “Nearest Me” feature in your state’s Pocket Ranger® app, you can easily search for boat ramps that are close to home.

The View

Boating scenery with boat

Image: www.seaturtlespacecoast.org

No matter which state park you choose to go boating at, there will always be a spectacular view. If you choose a route with all water, trees or mountains, you will be fascinated. You will also have the opportunity to see other boaters, water skiers and even jet skiers. Boating is a great way to meet new people and introduce you and your family to other great water sports. You may also have the chance to see wildlife.

Pontoon Boat Fun

Image: www.newportpontoonssales.com

Many state parks offer boating, but to find one closest to you, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app. Our app offers GPS maps and boating descriptions to help you decide which type of boating fits you best. And remember to check out the Rules and Regulations for boating in your state park.  

Suggested Gear List: 

  • Kayak
  • Life Vests
  • Sunscreen

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and more!

Related articles

5 North American Animals You Might Not Know About

Some animals get all the attention. Like pandas. Pandas are great but what about pronghorn antelope? Can a panda run 55 mph? No. This blog post is dedicated to a few, lesser-known, but equally wonderful North American animals.

Ring-tailed Cat

A ring-tailed cat in Phoenix [Image: en.wikipedia.org]

A ring-tailed cat in Phoenix [Image: en.wikipedia.org]

When not living the glam life with its boa tail, the official state animal of Arizona is out hunting mice and insects in the deserts of the southwest. Though not actually a feline, the ring-tail ‘cat’ ranges from central Mexico to central California and westward all the way to Kansas. Despite their sizable range, the ring-tail is a solitary and nocturnal creature rarely seen by humans. For a chance to spot a ring-tail, head to any number of Arizona state parks—Buckskin Mountain, Picacho Peak, Slide Rock—located in the beautiful Sonoran desert.

Paddlefish

Polyodon spathula [nas.er.usgs.gov]

Polyodon spathula [Image: nas.er.usgs.gov]

There are two strange looking creatures in this photograph but the one we’re talking about has a large paddle-shaped nose. The American paddlefish, also known as the spoonbill, is a large cartilaginous fish native to lakes and slow-moving rivers of the Midwest. The spoonbill is related to the sturgeon and like the sturgeon it is valued for its roe (eggs). On today’s market, eight ounces of paddlefish roe sells for over $100. While stable populations can be found in Mississippi River states, the paddlefish is in serious decline over most of its home range due to overfishing and habitat loss. For a chance to catch one, head to Bull Shoals-White River State Park in Arkansas.

Pronghorn Antelope

North America's Antelope [Image: www.britannica.com]

North America’s Antelope [Image: www.britannica.com]

As the only surviving member of the giraffe-related group Antilocapridae, the pronghorn antelope is literally one of a kind. Pronghorn can reach speeds of up to 55 mph, making it the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Since there isn’t a predator that can catch up to a pronghorn, scientists think the animal’s remarkable speed evolved to help it escape an extinct species of North American cheetah. Therefore, the pronghorn has the unique and wonderful distinction of being unnecessarily fast. Custer State Park in South Dakota is a great place to see pronghorns in the wild. If you drive the wildlife loop during the breeding season, you might even see the males sparring.

Fisher Cat

 Striking fear into the hearts of porcupines [Image: cat-chitchat.pictures-of-cats.org ]

Striking fear into the hearts of porcupines everywhere [Image: cat-chitchat.pictures-of-cats.org]

The fisher, or fisher cat, is a small nocturnal carnivore native to the boreal forests of North America. Amazingly, fishers actively hunt porcupines. That’s right—they prefer to eat animals covered in needles. Fishers are actually quite common in the wild and several Northeastern states allow you to trap them. Sightings during the daytime are rare but if you own a trail camera you might be able to catch a picture of one.

Alligator Gar

Alligator gar from Tennessee [Image: www.tnfish.org]

10-foot Alligator gar from Mississippi [Image: www.tnfish.org]

Don’t be fooled by the antiquity of this photograph: the alligator gar is by no means extinct. Right now, hordes of ravenous gar are lurking in the brackish swamps and backwaters of the American south. They can reach up to 10 feet in length, weigh upwards of 300 pounds, and live for over 50 years. Unfortunately, it takes gar about a decade to reach sexual maturity, making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. They may be ugly and scary, but we need things like giant lizard fish to put us in our place every now and again. Village Creek State Park in Texas is a beautiful spot for canoeing as well as a known gar hideout.

  • Pronghorns released in Southeast Arizona
  • Halt Called in Paddlefish Harvest
  • Fact or Fiction: Debunking Popular Animal Myths
  • 4 Surprisingly Dangerous Animals in the State Parks

California’s Otherworldly Landscape

California stretches out from north to south, 800 miles of endless terrain and diverse geography. It’s home to a variety of ecosystems, climate zones, and wildlife. This expansive state has much to offer; its most notable ecological regions include the fertile lands of the central valley, the beaches of the west coast, the Sierra Nevada with its mountainous peaks, and the arid, inhospitable Mojave Desert. Exploration is inevitable, as each region of this otherworldly planet paints a different picture for the traveler, from one extreme landscape to another. So climb out of your spaceship and begin ascending!

image: old-maps.com

Image: old-maps.com

The Northern & Southern Coastal Region

The coastal region, stretching from the Oregon border to the Mexican border, can be divided into north and south. San Francisco, Oakland, Sonoma, and other counties outline the northern coast. Along the northern coastal ranges, one can find the legendary redwood forests, in parks such as Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. These coastal areas are characterized by fog and rain (especially San Francisco in the summer). Napa Valley, to the north of San Pablo Bay, experiences mesoclimates, giving the region a variety of weather patterns that make it conducive for wine-making.

photo (2)

Napa Valley [Image: Cynthia Via]

Towards the Southern Coast, the sprawling highways and suburban communities outline the urban streets. But the most concentrated areas are near the famous beaches of Los Angeles and San Diego. The most common birds along the coast are California gulls, black-footed albatross, surfbirds, elegant tern, and the brown pelican, to name a few. The Diablo Ranges and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south of San Francisco are also part of this region. The Southern Coast is characterized by Mediterranean eco-regions with rainy winters and dry summers. The proximity of the ocean controls temperature extremes, resulting in warmer winters and cooler summers.

San Francisco [Image: Cynthia Via]

San Francisco [Image: Cynthia Via]

The Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada is a primordial heaven decorated with mountain streams, high peaks, and glaciers in the distance. Situated within the Sierra Nevada, Mt. Whitney stands at 14,494 feetthe highest peak in the U.S., south of Alaska. This region is also home to the famous Yosemite National Park. The Sierra Nevada has massive Sequoia trees along with an abundance of plants and wildlife. There are 400 vertebrate species, such as the Nevada red fox, black bear, bob cat, great gray owl, and peregrine falcon. It also has one of the largest alpine lakes in North America: Lake Tahoe.

sierra nevada

View from Seminole Dome in Yosemite National Park [Image: Cynthia Via]

Imagine 20 million years ago: this fertile landscape was plagued by volcanoes. The region was flooded with molten lava spewing out of the crevices of a young earth. Then the earth’s climate cooled, the ice age began and glaciers carved out the U-shaped canyons throughout the sierra. The Sierra Nevada boasts 200-250 days of sun, warm summers, brutal winters, and rugged terrain, which makes for a challenging hiking adventure.

The Central Valley

This huge expanse of land is known for its fertile production of vegetables and fruits; about 230 crops are produced here. The Central Valley was once a diverse grassland with riverside woodlands and seasonal vernal pools, but our agriculture needs have altered its landscape. Human activity and the introduction of exotic plants has replaced the diversity of species that once existed with livestock, ranches, and farms.

Image: www.flickr.com

Central Valley [Image: www.flickr.com]

The pronghorn antelope, the tule elk, and the kit fox, among others, were abundant in this region, but now many of these animals are either non-existent or endangered. Surrounding the valley are rugged hills and gentle mountains which contrast the area’s flatness. The valley may have originated below sea level as an offshore area.

Image:

A tule elk in San Joaquin Valley. About 4,0000 of them live in the wild thanks to conservation efforts [Image: Robert Couse-Baker www. flickr.com]

Mojave Desert

Low precipitation and cold offshore currents which limit evaporation give this otherworldly landscape its extreme dryness.The Mojave Desert lies beneath the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Hot air from the Pacific Ocean climbs up the sierra, but is then turned back by the cold air in the mountains. Though some rain may go over the mountain, most of it is evaporated by the desert’s hot air, thereby never reaching the ground. The Mojave Desert spreads beyond Southern California, to parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Most notably, the desolate Death Valley, one of the hottest places in the Americas at 120° Fahrenheit, is situated on the California-Nevada border.

[Death Valley Dunes. Image: John Bruckman www.flickr.com]

Death Valley Dunes.  [Image: John Bruckman www.flickr.com]

The Mojave has numerous dry salt lakes, low mountains, and dry stream beds. It’s hard to imagine anything living in these barren conditions, yet it’s home to a variety of wildlife, including the coyote, kit fox, black-tailed jackrabbit, greater roadrunner, and speckled rattlesnake. The creosotebush, brittlebush, and California juniper are commonly found here, along with the endemic barrel cactus and cholla cactus. Around 225 million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era, much of the American Southwest was covered by shallow seas, as revealed by fossil impressions of marine creatures in limestone and dolomite.

Daniel Ardnt [Image: www.flickr.com]

Kit foxes prefer arid climates [Image: Daniel Ardnt www.flickr.com]

To explore California’s otherworldly landscape, as it goes from one geological extreme to another, is to begin worshipping nature. It may take a whole lifetime to get around this enormous state, but the point is to start exploring, one region at a time.

Stay tuned for Pocket Ranger® American’s National Park Passport, which includes the famous Yosemite National Park, and other parks in California.

 

Top 6 Nature Quotes

Summer’s a perfect time to cozy up to Mother Nature. The weather’s nice, the grass is green, the ocean’s inviting, and what better way is there to enjoy a weekend than by hiking through tree-lined trails? (None, is the answer. There is no better way!) Just thinking about all the fabulous things we can do outdoors in the summer makes us want to kick up our heels and get out there. But if you don’t feel the same way, just check out of some of these beautiful quotes. They may just change your mind.

Also, we previously did a 9 Best Nature Quotes of All Time post, and we liked it so much, we thought we’d give you a part two.

“The earth has music for those who listen.” —George Santayana

tree-lined trail

Image: www.adore-theworld.tumblr.com

“Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

trees and stars

Image: omg-jilliannc-posts.tumblr.com

 

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ―Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

 

waterfall wilderness

Image: weheartit.com

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”―Frank Lloyd Wright

pink sun

Image: centerofmyuniverse.tumblr.com

A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule.―Michael Pollan, Second Nature

sunset weeds

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/repomonkey/8201757910/in/photostream/

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”―Walt Whitman

grass

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/vanillatwilight/5168121977/

What are your favorite nature quotes? Let us know in the comments!

 

G Marks the Spot: Gluten-Free Picnic Recipes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years, you’re familiar with the term “gluten-free.” Gluten is a name for proteins in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It’s the stuff that makes dough elastic. That’s why lots of people who eat gluten-free can’t eat breads, pastas, cereals, cookies, rice and cakes that contain gluten.

If someone who is sensitive to gluten or has celiac disease ingests gluten, it can lead to sickness and other complications.

Fortunately, there are great food alternatives for those who can only eat gluten-free products. Many restaurants are jumping on board and have gone gluten-free. But what if you don’t have the luxury of ordering from a restaurant? Well, check out our list of gluten-free recipes below! We even picked out recipes that suit your outdoorsy lifestyle. The next time you or someone you know is going out camping or on a picnic, tell him or her to try some of these delicious recipes.

Katrina’s Vegetable Stack

Courtesy of Karina Allrich at Gluten-Free Goddess

gluten-free

Image: www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

Ingredients

  • 1 large red or purple onion, peeled, trimmed, sliced into 6 slices
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cored, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers, cored, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, halved, sliced lengthwise, to make 6 pieces
  • 1 large yellow squash, halved, sliced lengthwise, to make 6 pieces
  • 1 medium-large eggplant, trimmed, sliced into 6 pieces
  • 6 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed, gills removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each: dried thyme, dill, parsley
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine the onion, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, portobello mushrooms.
  2. In a glass cup combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, dill and parsley. Pour the marinade over the vegetables. Season with sea salt and ground pepper, to taste. Gently toss to coat.
  3. Cover and marinate for one hour.
  4. Heat the grill to medium-high heat.
  5. Place the veggies in a grill basket (or spread out the veggies on a large sheet of foil). Place on the hot grill, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 20-25 minutes, depending upon the size of your grill.
  6. Remove the veggie basket/foil with vegetables to a large platter and set aside.
  7. To serve, create a vegetable stack. Place the portobello mushroom cap on a serving plate and layer it with a spoonful of lemon hummus. Add the eggplant, peppers, zucchini and onion. Top with a dab of more hummus, if desired. Sprinkle with fresh chopped chives. Repeat for the remaining five servings.

Grilled Chipotle Turkey Sliders

Courtesy of Jess Meyer at ATX Gluten-Free

gluten-free

Image: www.atxglutenfree.com

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 chipotle in adobo + 1 teaspoon sauce, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • ½ tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn meal

Directions

  1. Roll the meat into small meatballs and serve with your favorite pasta and sauce.
  2. Cook the ground turkey and form chipotle turkey tacos.
  3. Form the meat into larger patties and serve like a regular hamburger.
  4. Serve these delicious slider patties with grilled skillet potato-corn hash and grilled lime-paprika broccoli.

Asparagus Potato Salad

Courtesy of Dara at Gen-Y Foodie

gluten-free

Image: www.generationyfoodie.com

Ingredients

  • 1lb potatoes, washed and cut into 1″ chunks, skin-on
  • ¼ lb bacon (4 oz)
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1lb asparagus, trimmed, washed and cut into ½” slices
  • 5 fresh chives, chopped (approx 2-3 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Par boil potatoes until fork tender, approximately 10-12 minutes, depending on size. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, saute shallot with bacon on medium heat 4-5 minutes
  3. Add asparagus pieces and saute for another 2-3 minutes
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar and oil
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, asparagus, bacon, chives, and dressing mixture. Toss well to combine
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Serve warm or cold.

Marshmellow & Strawberry Kabobs

Courtesy of Cassie Best at BBC GoodFood

gluten-free

Image: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipe/marshmallow-strawberry-kebabs

Ingredients

  • 20 marshmallows
  • 16 strawberries, hulled
  • ½ x 397g can Nestlé Carnation Caramel (use the rest in hot caramel malted milk, see ‘Goes well with…’ below)
  • toasted hazelnuts or crumbled biscuits, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions

  1. Thread 4 long metal skewers with 5 marshmallows and 4 hulled strawberries each.
  2. Carefully hold over a campfire or gas stove, turning slowly, until the marshmallows are toasted.
  3. Stir a pinch of salt into caramel and drizzle over the top.
  4. Sprinkle with hazelnuts or biscuits, if you like. The marshmallows will be very hot, so allow to cool for a min or so before eating.

Eggless Tofu Salad

Courtesy of Bobbi McCormick 

gluten-free

Image: www.bobbimccormick.com/?p=26161

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks (about 15 oz – I use Trader Joe’s brand and the sprouted is the perfect texture)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 1 carrot (or 5 baby carrots), grated – take the time to grate it, it’s soooo goood!
  • 1⁄4 of an onion (about 1⁄4 cup), minced
  • 1 cup vegenaise
  • 1⁄4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp brown mustard (halve this if you’re not a big fan of mustard)
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1⁄2 tsp each)

Directions

  1. Squeeze most of the excess water out of the tofu.  In a medium mixing bowl, crumble the tofu and add the celery, cucumber, carrot, and onion.
  2. In a small separate bowl, mix the vegenaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, brown mustard, salt and pepper.
  3. Add this mixture to the tofu and veggies and mix well.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.

How to Jet Ski

Two jet skis by shoreline

Image: www.pdxrelocate.com

On a hot summer day, you may want to participate in a water sport just to cool down. There are many water activities to try, but if you haven’t experienced jet skiing, now is the time to consider it. Here is a simple guide to follow on how to jet ski in your state park.

Life Jacket

Different types of Life jackets

Image: www.jetskilake.co.uk

The most necessary accessory when going jet skiing is a life jacket. These come in many different sizes, so be sure to find one that fits you and test it to make sure you float in the water. Get a life jacket that is speed rated for strength so it doesn’t fall apart if you happen to tumble off your jet ski. Check out our Gear Store to purchase a comfortable life jacket!

Safety Straps

Safety Strap around wrist

Image: www.instructables.com

The safety strap is attached to the key of your jet ski. This is used as an emergency shut off in case you fall off or lose control. When you pull it, the jet ski engine will shut off. Never allow the safety strap to wrap around the handlebar. The safety strap will keep you safe throughout your entire ride.

Hop On!

Couple on jet ski

Image: theblackswampcornucopia.blogspot.com

When the jet ski is in the water, near the dock, get on slowly and try to balance your weight to keep from rocking side-to-side and possibly tipping over. Your hands should be placed firmly on the handles of the machine. Make sure that the safety strap is attached to your waist. At this point, engage the throttle and when you are still near the shore, maintain your speed at a lower level. This should be around 10 miles per hour, or even less.

Controlling the Jet Ski

Jet ski in water turning

Image: www.funfix.com

Making a turn is probably the hardest part when trying to control your jet ski. The best thing to do is to practice the turns while still maintaining the lowest speed possible. This should be repeated until you are able to balance and take quick turns. For safety, the turns should be practiced near the shore to avoid bumping into other boats and jet skiers. An important tip to remember is to give your jet ski gas while making turns. This will help your machine keep its momentum and keep you balanced.

As you increase speed, the jet ski’s nose will rise slightly above the water level. Depending on the speed you are traveling, the jet ski might float in the air for a few seconds. When this happens, all you have to do is raise yourself a few inches above your seat to reduce the level of impact when the machine goes back onto the water surface. This is where the fun begins with water splashing in your face!

Taking a Fall

Man falling off jet ski

Image: www.trinoutdoors.com

If you happen to fall off your jet ski, don’t worry. Your jet ski will shut off automatically because the safety strap will stop the jet ski from moving. There are no propellers on a jet ski, so don’t worry about getting caught in them. All you have to do is climb back on from the rear of the machine, reattach the key, press the green button, and you are good to go.

Docking

Docking a jet ski

Image: www.carolinafloats.com

When you are using a jet ski, it is important to know how to bring it back to shore. Approach the dock from a straight angle. Slow down to less than 10 miles per hour. Maintain a steady speed as you approach the dock and then line up the bottom of your jet ski with the angle of the dock. Speed up slightly and then build momentum to carry the front of your jet ski onto the dock. Power down and decelerate once you are close to the dock.

Important Tips:

  • Do not operate a PWC (Personal Watercraft) in shallow water, because sediments or aquatic vegetation can be sucked into the water pump and damage your PWC and the environment.
  • Operate at a slow speed and avoid creating a wake, which can cause erosion when operating near the shore or in narrow streams or rivers.
  • It is important to remember not to dock your jet ski in reeds and grasses because it could damage the environment.
  • Be extra careful when fueling your jet ski near the water; oil and gasoline spills are dangerous to the aquatic environment. It is better to fuel on land.
  • Never use your jet ski to disturb, chase, or harass wildlife.
Jet skiing in blue water

Image: www.pitt.edu

There are many state parks that offer jet skiing. Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to try out your new jet skiing knowledge and see Rules and Regulations for riding a jet ski in your state park.

Visiting a New Hampshire Gem: Monadnock State Park

Contributed by Katie Levy, Adventure-Inspired

When it comes to hiking in New England, there’s no shortage of options. Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, and all of the beautiful state lands in between are great destinations for a day or an extended trip. On a recent visit to New England, I got to see a not-so-hidden gem that’s well-known and easily accessible, but still pretty special.

Monadnock State Park Summit

About Mount Monadnock

Southwestern New Hampshire’s Monadnock State Park is home to, and essentially exists due to, the presence of 3,165-foot Mount Monadnock. My Boston-based hiking partners described Mount Monadnock as “a giant rock in the middle of fields and woods,” which is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what the mountain looks like.

The term “monadnock” has Native American roots; it’s a word used to describe isolated hills or mountains. As a result of Mount Monadnock’s prominence relative to the surrounding landscape, it’s an incredible sight to behold. The peak is nearly 1,000 feet higher than any neighboring mountain and the summit rewards hikers with expansive views in every direction once you’ve climbed the requisite 2,000+ feet of elevation.

Getting to the Park and Activity Options

Monadnock State Park is also easy to get to, even from Boston; it took our crew an hour and 45 minutes to get from Brighton, Massachusetts to the park. When we arrived at park headquarters just after 10 am on a sunny spring Saturday, the first of two large parking lots was already full. Given how easy the park is to get to and how close the summit trails are to major roadways, it was no surprise. We paid the $5 per person entrance price and received a map with all trails leading to the summit of Mount Monadnock clearly labeled.

In addition to the trails around park headquarters, the summit is accessible via Gilson Pond due east of the mountain, Dublin Lake to the north, an old toll road to the south, and a handful of other access points. And if hiking all day isn’t an appealing activity option for you, Monadnock State Park offers campgrounds with showers, canoe rentals, and kayak rentals in the summer, as well as Nordic skiing and snowshoeing during the winter.

Climbing the Mountain

White Dot Trail

On our trip, my hiking partners and I chose the direct and popular White Dot Trail as our path up Mount Monadnock on recommendation from one of the park rangers. It starts just outside the park visitor center, and as with most trails up the mountain, you’re climbing as soon as you set foot on the trail.

Climbing at Monadnock State Park

Though the White Dot Trail is wide enough for two or more hikers to walk side by side initially, the trail isn’t always easily passable. Less than a mile into the hike, you’ll find yourself climbing hand over hand up rock faces and over boulders. It makes what would otherwise be a typical hike significantly more interesting. After spending the first half of the hike up in the trees, we popped out of the woods and spent the rest of the hike with the summit in clear view. It took our little crew a bit over two hours to make the trip to the summit and back, not including the half hour we spent wandering around on top of the mountain. We opted for a detour along the steeper, rockier White Cross Trail on the descent. It was a nice change of scenery, but given how steep it was, I was glad we opted for the White Dot Trail on our climb up.

Things to Know Before You Go

Monadnock State Park is a fantastic option for day hikes, even if you’re as far away as Boston. But be aware that if you arrive later in the morning in good  weather, the parking lots near the park headquarters will be crowded. The White Dot Trail is the most direct way up, but if you prefer not to see other people on your hikes, other trails will be better options. Use your Pocket Ranger® app to scope out trails before you go and while you’re there.

Though hand over hand climbing on the White Dot Trail was an added fun bonus for our group, be sure you’ve got appropriate footwear on. And be sure to bring a windbreaker for the summit, even on beautiful summer daysMount Monadnock’s prominence makes the summit susceptible to high winds.

Have you been to Monadnock State Park? What other tips do you have for first-time visitors? What are some of your favorite trails there, or around that part of New England?