Beaver Pond
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Bear Brook State Park, Allenstown
Hours:Park gates open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Saturday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m., seasonally
Fee: $4 adults, $2 children ages 6–11; contact park for campground fees

Bear Brook State Park, 603-485-9874 (day use), 603-485-9869 (campground),

Bathrooms: At campground
Water/Snacks: At campground

Take a scenic hike to backcountry ponds, complete with swimming and blueberry picking, in New Hampshire’s second largest state park.

Bear Brook State Park is an oasis of ponds, marshes, and deep pine forests in a corner of the state that is becoming increasingly populated. As New Hampshire’s second largest state park (after the largely undeveloped Pisgah State Park), Bear Brook has something for everyone, including peaceful hiking, ponds and marshes, top-notch cross-country skiing, archery courses, fishing ponds, swimming holes, and an increasingly popular mountain bike culture. When you are deep in this serene 10,000-acre preserve, you will never guess that the busy urban centers of Manchester and Concord are less than a half hour away!

Like state parks throughout New England and the rest of the country, Bear Brook owes its stone picnic pavilions, hand-dug swimming holes, and campgrounds to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) of the 1930s. Bear Brook was even home to two CCC-era camps where hundreds of men were housed and fed as they completed projects throughout New Hampshire. One of those camps is still used today by the modern-day incarnation of the CCC, the New Hampshire Conservation Corps.

Beaver Pond is a great place to start exploring this park, although many other great options exist and are listed in the Plan B section of this trip. From the campground, walk toward campsite 26 at the end of the campground road. Proceed out across the nice sandy beach (stopping for a swim if you like). Continuing on, the road enters a forest of large white pines mixed with a beech and hemlock understory. The forest floor here is soft and fragrant, with a thick mat of pine needles. Hugging the edge of the pond to your right, the road passes some boulder slabs along the pond shore that make an excellent rest stop and swimming spot.

Continuing on around the pond, the road crosses a narrow isthmus of land that separates Beaver Pond from nearby Spruce Pond. This is a very wet area, with a lot of good blueberry picking. The route also passes a finely constructed timber bridge, complete with a bench that’s perfect for sitting quietly and scanning for wildlife. Beaver, deer, moose, bobcats, coyotes, and dozens of kinds of birds call this marshy wildlife paradise home. The best time to see wildlife here is in the early morning or as the sun is setting.

Continue along the pond back through the campground to the parking area. The campground rents canoes on Beaver Pond for a small fee, and the playground in the campground makes an excellent stop before you head home.

Plan B:

No matter the season, it’s difficult to run out of things to do in Bear Brook State Park. Hike to remote and marshy Smith Pond and its shelter and fire pit via Broken Boulder Trail. When the weather is warm, enjoy a dip in the excellent swimming hole at Catamount Pond on Deerfield Road as you head out of the park. When it’s cold, ice skate on Spruce Pond and Beaver Pond.

Where to Eat Nearby:

The traffic circle in nearby Epsom has a few eateries, and nearby Concord has many options, including sushi, pizza, and excellent bagel shops and delis.


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