NH Family Hikes

Monson Center

Length: 2.3 miles out-and-back with loop

Difficulty (click for info): Beginner

Elevation Gain: 70 feet (+150 feet on return)

Rating (click for info): 6/10

Driving Directions:
Trailhead and parking area are on Federal Hill Road on the border of Milford and Hollis. If approaching from the south, take Rt. 122 2.3 miles north of Rt. 130 in the center of Hollis, and turn left onto Plain Road. Drive 0.6 miles and bear right through a triangle junction onto Federal Hill Road. Continue 1.4 miles and the parking area will be on the right, at the Milford town line. If approaching from the north, from the interchange of Rt. 13 and Rt. 101, drive south on Rt. 13 for a short distance and turn left onto Emerson Road. Go 0.4 miles and take a right onto Federal Hill Road. Continue 2.5 miles down this road to the parking area on the left, at the Hollis town line. Click here for a Google map.

Trail map

About the Hike:
On the border of Milford and Hollis lies a historical relic - the subtle remains of a long-forgotten town. The colonial settlement known as Monson, established in 1737 by six individual families, was one of the first inland places in the region to be colonized. Its history has been carefully preserved by the Forest Society, which owns a 280-acre conservation property enclosing the center of the former town and its seven homesteads. Visit their website for a detailed history of this fascinating settlement! Begin your hike into the 18th Century from the parking area on Federal Hill Road. Follow the short connecting path down onto the main woods road into Monson and descend gradually. In 0.15 miles, you will pass a Forest Society signpost and emerge in a large open field surrounding the centerpiece of the property, the Gould House. Stroll down the road through the field for another 0.15 miles to reach the Gould House, the only structure on the property. This original colonial dwelling has been restored by the caretakers of Monson and is set up for display. Take a look inside to envision life in the 18th Century.

Now your journey through Monson will continue on forest paths to the six remaining homesteads, where only cellar holes remain. Note: the newtork of walking paths in this area of the property is a spiderweb, and using the map is very helpful. From the Gould House, walk across the field on the mowed path and into the forest, where you will arrive at a plaque with names of Monson conservation supporters and a four-way junction. For your first stop, turn left and follow the narrow footpath about 0.1 miles and take the second right turn to arrive at the Brown cellar hole. Each of the homestead sites has a historical marker detailing the backstory of the settlers that lived there. Return to the four-way junction and turn left (across from the path through the field) onto the West Monson Road. Stroll down the old carriage path for a quarter mile and come to a place where a footpath crosses at a left bend in the road. Turn right and promptly arrive at the former Hubbard home, whose entertaining story you won't want to miss. Continue along this path through a grove of mountain laurel for a short distance to connect over to East Monson Road. When you reach it, you will see the T Nevins site directly across the way. When finished exploring here, turn south (right, from the connecting path) on East Monson Road back toward the main road. In a short distance, pass by the Monson cattle pound and then the W Nevins home, both on the right. Continue your stroll down the old road for a quarter mile until you make it back out to the main road through Monson.

Turn left to explore the two remaining sites. Follow the road gently downhill for 0.1 miles and arrive at a clearing on the left, where you will find the Wallingford cellar hole. On the left side of this clearing, follow a path into the forest and quickly take a right. Walk 0.15 miles to a four-way junction and take another right. Soon, the Bayley cellar hole will appear on your left, and you have now visited all the settlements in Monson. Retrace your steps back to the road and follow it back past the Gould House to the parking area.

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