With a storied history and global notoriety, Mount Monadnock stands proud in Jaffrey, N.H., attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year.
"The mountain, as far as we know now, is the third most hiked mountain in the world behind Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Tai in China," says park manager Patrick Hummel, advising hikers not to underestimate the rigors of the rugged climb to the summit.
It's easy to see why artists and philosophers drew inspiration from this serene landscape.
"Ralph Waldo Emerson has a very famous poem called 'Monadnock'," says Hummel. "This was Henry David Thoreau's favorite mountain. He studied this mountain thoroughly, in its wildlife and plant life."
The first part of the White Arrow Trail, which dates from the time of Abraham Lincoln's childhood, is rocky, lush and dense. Suddenly, climbers emerge to the first lookout spot and see fabulous views of Southern New Hampshire, Northwestern Massachusetts and Southeastern Vermont.
"For me, this mountain has been a good friend and a teacher," says Hummel fondly, explaining how he grew up in Monadnock's shadow and is so proud to contribute to caring for it today. Mount Monadnock stands 3,165 feet above sea level. A round-trip hike - with a distance of 3.8 miles - takes about four hours. Hummel says, be sure to bring along water, food and maps.