The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests headquarters is in Concord, about a ten-minute ride from the State House off of exit 16. Follow signs for “conservation center”, and you’ll find the headquarters on Portsmouth Street. Stop in the foyer at the main building to pick up a map with the title Merrimack River Outdoor Education and Conservation Area, then drive another quarter mile down Portsmouth Street to a parking area and trailhead on the left. Don’t expect the map box at the trailhead to be stocked.
The Forest Society trail network at this property runs along the Merrimack River (photo shows view upstream to I-93) and includes a pine plantation, a silver maple forest (forming the natural archway in the photo above), floodplain, and a river cove with a canoe landing. The traffic sounds from nearby I-93 are easy to ignore. In this drought, the river is quiet, but the sharply-cut banks indicate how high the Merrimack can run in a rainy season.
I stayed here longer today than I had intended, stretching a quick lunchtime walk into an hour. The trail is flat & sandy; no boots required. The bugs are out, so bring your insect repellent. This is an undramatic, peaceful spot for a walk, and it’s open from dawn to dusk.