Rollins State Park
April 26. 2011 4:22PM
Located in the town of Warner, Rollins State Park is situated on the south slope of Mt. Kearsarge.
A 3-1/2 mile long scenic auto road rises from the park entrance through woodlands to the parking and picnic areas.
The picnic area, located in a natural wooded glen beneath granite ledges, is historically referred to as the "Garden." It affords views that stretch from Mt. Monadnock to the hills of New Hampshire's coastal plain.
The summits of Pack Monadnock, Crotched and Uncanoonuc Mountains, the hills of central Massachusetts, and the Boston skyline are visible on the horizon, while the Mink Hills and Merrimack River Valley can be seen nearby. A one-half mile trail to the summit of Mt.Kearsarge leaves from the picnic area.
Location: Off Route 103, Warner
Activities: Hiking, picnicking
Amenities: Picnic tables, scenic auto road, fire tower
Weekends: Late October to November 11
Daily: Mid-June to Late October
Acreage: Over 5, 000 acres including state forest
In 1866 the New Hampshire legislature granted local businessmen a charter to build a toll road from Warner Village to the summit of Mt. Kearsarge. The Warner & Kearsarge Road Company was created and construction of the road began in 1873, with the support of the townspeople. The road traversed Mission Ridge to the Garden and continued to within "eight rods" of the summit. The road was poorly maintained and was impassable by the early 1900s. The Troy Hill Women's Club raised funds to repair the road in the 1920s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established a camp in Warner in 1935 to finish rebuilding the road to the Garden, and from there, the trail to the summit.
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) purchased land on the mountain including the Garden in 1918. The 521-acre reservation was called Rollins Memorial Park in honor of Governor Frank W. Rollins, a founder of SPNHF. A small log shelter built near the Garden helped make the area popular with hikers. The property was transferred to the state for the establishment of a state park in 1950.