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Parks in Southwest New Hampshire

Annett Wayside Park (Rindge, Rt. 119). Annett Wayside Park is part of the 1,494 acre Annett State Forest and is located near the Cathedral of the Pines National Shrine. It is a beautiful spot for picnicking. A 1/4 mile hiking trail offers a pleasant stroll to the edge of Black Reservoir. The park is unstaffed, but is open to the public year-round at no charge. Gates are open during daylight hours from mid-May and close in early November. Picnic tables and pit toilets are available.

Bear Den Natural Area (Gilsum). Route 10 South, A short walk to ancient glacial pot holes and a bit further to ledges that may have once been a denning area for bears.

Chesterfield Gorge Natural Area (Chesterfield, Rt. 9). Wilderness loop trail winds along a deep glacial stream. The loop is 3/4 mile long and follows Wilde Brook, returning to the park. It's an easy hike and is located conveniently along Route 9. Picnic area at entrance to trail.

Greenfield State Park (Greenfield, NH, off Rt. 136). 400 acres on Otter Lake with completely separated areas for campers and day visitors. Waterfront area includes swimming. Large picnic grounds for families and organized groups. Campground of 252 tent sites, separate beach, nature trails. Snowmobiling and XC skiing. (603) 547-3497. Admission: $4.00, children 6 to 11 $2.00, 5 & under, NH residents 65 & over: Free.

Miller State Park (Peterborough, Rt. 101). Located on the 2,290-foot summit and flank of Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, Miller is the oldest state park in New Hampshire. A winding 1.3-mile paved road leading to the scenic summit is open for visitors to drive in summer and on spring and fall weekends. Picnicking and hiking are popular activities at the scenic mountain park. Three main hiking trails ascend Pack Monadnock to the summit. The best known is the Wapack Trail, which is a 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield. An operational fire tower, used for detecting fires, affords a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Mount Monadnock, 3,165 feet high, can be seen standing alone 12 miles to the west. It is believed Native Americans named the area's mountains, and that "pack" means little. Other peaks and hills of southern New Hampshire and adjacent Massachusetts can also be seen. On clear days views reach to Mount Washington, the skyscrapers of Boston, and the Vermont hills. Admission: $4.00, children 6 to 11 $2.00, 5 & under, NH residents 65 & over: Free.

Monadnock State Park (Jaffrey). The most climbed mountain in North America offers spectacular 100-mile views of the surrounding countryside and all six New England states from its 3,165-foot rocky summit. Forty-miles of trails provide varying degrees of challenge for hikers of all ages and skill levels. Average round-trip hike is three to four hours. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a scenic lunch along the way to the top. Camping and cross-country skiing are available at the park. Admission: $4.00, children 6 to 11 $2.00, 5 & under, NH residents 65 & over: Free. Pets are not permitted. (603) 532-8862.

Otter Brook Dam and Lake (Roxbury, Keene). The park, maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers offers many recreational opportunities, including: swimming, picnicking, canoeing, fishing and hunting. There are flush toilet restrooms, a sandy beach, picnic tables, grills and two group shelters (which may be reserved). There is a $1.00 fee for swimming. The park is open from 8 am to 8 pm daily.

Pisgah State Park (Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Winchester, entrances off Rtes. 9, 10, 63 and 119). Pisgah State Park includes over 13,300 acres of rough forested terrain, encompassing a complete watershed north of the Ashuelot River. Within the Cheshire County towns of Winchester, Chesterfield and Hinsdale, the park protects seven ponds (popular for fishing), four highland ridges and numerous wetlands. The area's 21 square miles make it the largest property in the New Hampshire state park system. Six trailheads around the park disperse use, reducing guest impact and encouraging the discovery of Pisgah's natural and cultural features. Year-round trailheads for hiking, mountain biking, ATV and snowmobile use provide options for short, moderate, and long treks into the backcountry. Park staff monitor the impact of motorized and bicycle use on the park seasonally. Please be advised that trails may be closed for mud season or as other conditions warrant. For information about trail status or about equestrian use, call the Bureau of Trails at 603-271-3254. Pisgah State Park is open to the public year-round at no charge.

Pierce Island State Park (Spofford Lake). Actually a 5-acre island approximately 1/4 mile from state boat landing, Pierce Island is densely wooded with Hemlocks. Free admission. No facilities.

Rhododendron State Park (Fitzwilliam, Rt. 119). Rhododendron State Park is named after the 16-acre grove of Rhododendron Maximum, which is the focal point of the park. A 0.6 mile-long universally accessible trail encircles the grove allowing visitors to observe, close up, the fragrant clusters of pink blossoms as they burst into bloom in mid-July. A wildflower trail, maintained by the Fitzwilliam Garden Club, winds through the forest adjacent to the grove. From early spring to the first frost, wildflowers bloom throughout the 2,723-acre park. The last blooms in the fall are complemented by the forest's brilliant foliage. Visitors exploring the trails are often serenaded by song birds which live in the grove. Admission: $4.00, children 6 to 11 $2.00, 5 & under, NH residents 65 & over: Free. Pets are not permitted.

Surry Mountain Dam and Lake. There are two faces for Surry Mountain Lake, both worthy of exploration. If you want a chance to view the Surry Dam, follow Route 12A North from Keene and take Surry Dam Road. Here you'll find a beautiful view of the dam and the opportunity to drive across it. For swimmers, stay on Route 12A and follow it to Surry Mountain Lake Recreation Area (also maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers) and look for the entrance on right. The recreation area is open from 8 am to 8 pm daily and features a beautiful sandy beach with a great view of the surrounding hills. There is a $1.00 admission fee for swimming.

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