The sense of accomplishment that comes with summiting a mountain is incomparable, but sometimes a nice easy walk in the woods is all I can muster. On those low-energy days, Monson Center is the perfect destination. Split between Milford and Hollis, Monson’s 269 acres of preserved fields, woods, and wetlands are more than just another example of New Hampshire’s natural beauty; they also hold significant remnants of colonial life here.
Settled by Europeans in 1737, Monson Village was only officially in existence until 1770, when its charter was repealed (for reasons now unknown) and its residents abandoned their homes. The village remained relatively untouched, forgotten by time, until a developer stepped in to clear the land and make room for 28 single-family homes in 1998. With the help of local residents, the State Division of Historical Resources, and Inherit New Hampshire, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests acquired the land, ensuring it will retain its historic value in the years to come.
As you weave your way past the fields and into the woods, over the same roads that settlers used nearly 300 years ago, you can still see the foundations of many of the original houses. Small plaques tell the stories of the residents who used to occupy them, the men and women who first called Monson home.
There is one colonial building still standing on the property. It was restored by Russ and Geri Dickerman, who donated 125 acres of their own land to the Monson Reservation and worked tirelessly to help preserve it. Russ continues to care for the building, and when he’s on site you can stop in and view the small museum set up inside.
If you’re more interested in nature than history, you’re in luck too. Wildflower season turns the fields into beautifully colorful landscapes. Even now, with so many flowers past their brightest points, you can find all sorts of little beauties. Make your way to the wetlands and you’re sure to see blue herons and, if you’re lucky, a cedar waxwing or two! There are some benches and boulders placed perfectly around the land, making it a great place for a picnic too.
So next time you feel like getting out but don’t have the energy to tackle a mountain, head over to Monson. Enjoy New Hampshire’s natural beauty and get a glimpse into one of its earliest towns at the same time. Win-win!