I had casual business in Concord this weekend and a couple of hours to kill afterward. I almost headed up to the fire tower at Oak Hill, but I decided instead to check out New Hampshire’s largest developed state park, Bear Brook in Allenstown. Yes, another spur-of-the-moment hike. Much less drama than my recent Monadnock trip.
This is a 10,000-acre park with many trails, and I had time for only a brief visit. I came in to the park via Deerfield Road off of NH Rt. 28. This through-road links Allenstown with Candia, and it’s possible to drive straight through without stopping at the park at all. I pulled over at the park kiosk, paid the $4 entry fee, and picked up a trail map. Catamount Hill was nearby, and so was Catamount Pond with a little beach. Those were destinations enough for today.
The hill is rated “difficult” on the park trail map (which is available as a PDF on the NH state park web site), but that’s a stretch. Uphill, yes, but no scrambling on the ledge. I had sneakers on, and no trekking pole, and the knee I hammered a couple of weeks ago on Monadnock was not stressed. The only wildlife I saw was of the six-legged variety.
This was a woods walk – even trail’s end on Catamount Hill is below tree line. I met three mountain bikers walking their bikes and their dogs uphill as I was heading down, and they were working a lot harder than I was. “Guess I’d better stay right,” I called. “No, we’re going down on another trail,” said one of the bikers reassuringly. They didn’t waste any time. We ran into each other again at the base of the hill, all smiles after what must have been a rip-roaring ride for them.
Catamount Pond and its facilities are across the road from the entrance kiosk. Deserted today, the beach looks like it could accommodate a crowd on a hot day. This looks like a great area for a family outing, with a playground and picnic pavilion nearby. On the lawn is a monument to the Civilian Conservation Corps workers who helped to develop this park among many others.
There is much more to Bear Brook than I could see today. I didn’t even get to the snowmobile museum, campground, or archery range. The park land is open year-round, but staffing for the year ends September 9, so some facilities may not be available through fall and winter. Check the web site.
I see on the web site that SCA-NH is having a historic-site cleanup day in Allenstown in three weeks, on 9/28/13. Projects will include buildings within the park. Interested? Show up at 8 a.m. on the 28th at the Bear Brook State Park warehouse at 159 Deerfield Road in Allenstown. Bring gloves, rakes, and clippers.