Among the lesser mountain peaks of southwestern New Hampshire stands Mount Monadnock at 3,165 feet, surrounded by picturesque towns, including the college town of Keene. Often overlooked due to the call of the Lakes Region and the White Mountains, in any other place this area – the “Quiet Corner” – would be a prime destination. And perhaps it remains so wonderful because of its competition – commercialism is kept at bay and instead you have a place that seems at times to belong to another era. There are no major highways that will take you here other than Interstate 91 connecting Connecticut and western Massachusetts. Lesser roads must do.
That said, with all the opportunities for mountain hiking in New England, Monadnock is one of the most popular to climb – it is said that it is one of the most climbed in the world – and that perhaps is because of its relative isolation and the views it affords as a result. It’s also a very doable climb for most people.
The city of Keene, home to Keene State College, and the only city in the region, has a population of just over 23,000, so don’t go thinking this is any kind of metropolis. Rather, it’s a lively place, with classic brick buildings and a vibrant college community that is much more relaxed than preppy.
Other noteworthy communities in the area include Peterborough, another smaller commercial (and artsy) center, and the pretty little towns of Jaffrey, Hancock, Harrisville, Fitzwilliam and Walpole.
Beyond Monadnock and its captivating towns you’ll find four state parks, numerous lakes and ponds, and lots of opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, swimming, cross-country skiing and much more. But definitely come to climb Monadnock – you haven’t earned your New England bragging rights until you do.