Rhododendron State Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:NH 119 West, Fitzwilliam, NH
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Suggested donation: adults, $4; children ages 6–11, $2 (a self-pay box is at the trailhead)
Contact:

nhstateparks.org; 603-532-8862

Bathrooms: Portable toilets to the left of the parking lot (open year-round)
Water/Snacks: None
Map:

At Rhododendron State Park, explore the largest grove of rhododendrons in northern New England.

The half-mile Rhododendron Trail is universally accessible.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

Rhododendron State Park is named for the 16-acre grove of Rhododendron maximum found here, which draws crowds in July when the shrubs’ enormous pink-and-white blossoms are in full bloom, but the park offers a fascinating excursion any time of year.

The grove is just a small part of the 2,723-acre park, but it is unique. Rhododendrons grow in acidic soil like that found in the southern Appalachians and in evergreen swamps. Conditions at this site match those found there, allowing this grove to thrive at the northern limit of the species’ range. This is the largest grove in northern New England and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1982.

As you wander through the park, you can easily imagine you are far from New England, since the leaves of the plants look so tropical. Some of the branches of the rhododendron grow so tall that you walk under sections that are almost like tunnels. The shady paths, however, are easy to traverse and the 0.5-mile Rhododendron Trail is universally accessible. Wildflower Trail and Laurel Trail are easy enough to push a stroller over as well. Wandering along all three trails is a lot of fun for kids. Look for the Fitzwilliam Garden Club visitor registration station on Wildflower Trail, where you and your kids can sign your names in the notebook found there.

This property was once owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), which received the land as a donation in 1903 with the stipulation that the rhododendron grove and pine forest remain a public reservation forever. In 1946, AMC gifted the property to the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation.

Remember: You can spot quite a lot of different mushrooms alongside the trails. Bring a mushroom guide and see how many kinds the kids can identify.

Plan B:

A 1-mile trail here leads to Little Mount Monadnock, which offers views of Mount Mondanock and Mount Sunapee.

Where to Eat Nearby:

A convenience store, a pizza place, and an ice cream shop are located where NH 12 meets NH 119.



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