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Wapack Trail - A New England Treasure
Monadnock Highlands, New Hampshire
August 16, 2004

At 21 miles the Wapack Trail certainly isn’t New England’s longest interstate hiking trail. That title easily belongs to the Appalachian Trail (AT). But the Wapack, completed in 1923, is New England’s oldest interstate hiking trail - `inspiring others, including the AT.

This scenic ridgeline path probes the Monadnock Highlands from Massachusetts’s Mount Watatic to New Hampshire’s Pack Monadnock, hence the name Wa-Pack. Winding over rugged peaks, cloaked in forests of gnarled birch and spruce the Wapack feels like it belongs further north in the White Mountains. But unlike that popular range, the peaks along the Wapack nary see a crowd.

"Henry David Thoreau described the Wapack Range as, 'the most novel and interesting walk that I can think of in these parts...'"

Rich in natural beauty and human history, the Wapack remains fairly unknown. And despite being a mere 50 miles from Boston, it still retains a wild charm. The surrounding hillsides once flourished with farms but have since been reclaimed by the forest. However, outstanding views of the countryside remain, thanks to miles of blueberry - hugging ledges and granite-domed ridges.

But this re-emerging wilderness could not be hiked today if it weren’t for a handful of pioneering trailblazers. In 1860, Henry David Thoreau described the Wapack Range as, the most novel and interesting walk that I can think of in these parts. Sixty years later, Boston newspaperman and Appalachian Mountain Club President, Allen Chamberlain saw trail potential for the Wapack. Local farmers, Frank Robbins and Marion Davis commenced in blazing and constructing the nascent path.

AT founder, Benton MacKaye was especially fond of the Wapack. He viewed the new trail as a small scale proving ground for his much more grandiose project. According to Davis, Benton just loved the trail. And so will you upon setting foot on it. Explore old rock walls and cellar holes along the way. Scan the valleys below for snow-white church spires piercing the emerald canopy. Follow moose and deer track while admiring the Grand Monadnock, southern New Hampshire’s highest peak from numerous overlooks along the trail. Topping out at 2,288-ft on South Pack Mountain, the Wapack never climbs too high. But it’s steep in history and in beauty with a legacy that continues to soar above the rest.

For more info visit: www.wapack.org

About the Author —

Craig Romano is a staff writer for Northwest Runner and Sports Etc magazines. Articles have appeared in Backpacker, Canoe and Kayak, Northwest Travel, AMC Outdoors, Washington Trails, and many other publications.

About the Producer —

Michael Fagin is an experienced outdoor writer and photographer and writes recreational content The Weather Network. He also runs West Coast Weather.