Hiking Trails on Mt. Monadnock— Parker Trail(Western [Old Toll Road] Trailhead: Lat. 42.84314 N, Long. 72.11321 W, Eastern [State Park] Trailhead: Lat. 42.84421 N, Long. 72.08784 W)
- 1.5 miles (2.35km)
- Ascending time (i.e. HQ to Halfway House Road):
- about 30 minutes
- Descending time (i.e. Halfway House Road to HQ):
- about 25 minutes
- Difficulty rating/rank:
- Crowd Factor:
- 1--You will rarely meet another person on the trail.
- Halfway House Road, or Park Headquarters north of Parking Lot #2.
- Trail marker:
- Vertical yellow bars nailed to trees, occasional fading yellow dots.
- Average Grade:
- 7%. Steepest 600m: 11%
|Location||Time (descending) (approx.)||Distance (descending) (approx.)||Altitude (approx.)|
|Halfway House Road||-||-||(549m)|
|Cliff Walk junction||520 yards (0.47km)||(529m)|
|Lost Farm Trail junction||0.8 mile (1.34km)||(479m)|
|Headquarters terminus||1.5 miles (2.35km)||(416m)|
A low altitude trail, the Parker Trail links the Halfway House Trail/Old Toll Road area with the Headquarters area of Monadnock State Park. Along the way, it meets the Cliff Walk trail and the Lost Farm Trail. Because this trail never really breaks out into the open, following wet spells it may be heavily populated with mosquitoes. Deer flies also patrol the trail.
The Parker Trail presents no special challenges. There is one very short section of less than 110 yards (100m) that has a slope of 22%, but with an average slope along the entire route of only 7%, almost anyone can hike this trail. This trail, or some part of it, is often used as one leg of a loop that begins and ends at the Headquarters section of the park. While it could be used in a loop from the Old Toll Road parking area, there is a greater efficiency in taking this trail from west to east, where the gentle downhill is easier to take at the end of a long hike than regaining almost 400 feet (133m) of elevation. So, hereís how the trail looks as you take it from the Old Toll Road.
Coming down from any of the trails in the Halfway House/Old Toll Road area, be sure to take the Old Toll Road from the Halfway House site. About 0.62 miles (0.99km) below the Halfway House site, on the left side, youíll spot a sign for the junction with the Parker Trail. If you are coming up the Old Toll Road, the Parker Trail is on the right at a little more than half a mile (0.87km) above the parking area.
The trail begins with a short but fairly steep climb that puts you well above the road. From there, itís virtually all downhill to the other end of the trail. It quickly becomes apparent that this area, not in the very distant past, was farm fields. Off to both the left and right youíll spot a lot of grassy areas under the trees; the canopy here isnít as thick as in other areas. While there are a number of fairly old trees around the trail, most trees are only three or four inches in diameter and are relatively spaciously distanced.
From the initial hilltop, the trail descends quickly, interrupted by several brief uphill stretches. About 520 yards (470m) along the trail, youíll encounter the Cliff Walk descending a steep slope on your left. The trailís descend becomes less steep just past here. Youíll realize after a bit that an old stone wall borders the trail on the right side. This wall will double as a causeway after about another 750 yards (670m) when the trail crosses an intermittent stream that may be dry in the summer, but running during wetter periods.
The stream marks a low point in the trail, which rises perhaps six feet (two meters) and then levels off for a couple of hundred yards (meters) until it meets up with the Lost Farm Trail, also coming down a slope on the left of the trail. Youíre now perhaps 0.8 miles (1.34km) into your hike. The slope gently increases after this junction until you go below the dam for the Poole Reservoir and cross the stream coming from it. The path curves rather sharply to your left, ascending above the dam, and in another hundred yards (90m) or so, youíve reached the end of the trail, to the north of Parking Lot #2, with a restroom and the park store ahead of you visible through the trees.