Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:Arboretum Drive, Newington, NH
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:; 978-465-5753

Bathrooms: At the comfort station next to the parking lot
Water/Snacks: None

Formerly part of an Air Force base, Great Bay is now an important bird refuge and offers easy walks.

Great Bay offers easy walking for families.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

Two trails are found at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, both of which are perfect for families. The property is one of more than 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This refuge was once part of the Pease Air Force Base, which closed in 1989 and in 1992 was turned into a 1,000-plus-acre sanctuary along the eastern shore of New Hampshire’s Great Bay.

Today, it is an important migration and wintering habitat for the federally protected bald eagle and a prime migration habitat for the peregrine falcon. Depending on your kids, you can take Ferry Way Trail, a 2-mile round-trip hike that leads to a scenic overlook where you can peer through mounted binoculars at the boats and scenery in Great Bay, or you can choose the 0.5-mile Peverly Pond Trail, which goes along one side of the pond. If you’re feeling up to it, walk both trails to see the variety of habitats, which include mud flats, saltwater and freshwater marshes, swamps, ponds, streams, woodlands, and fields.

Ferry Way starts from the asphalt path adjacent to the chain-link fence across the road from the parking lot. After following the fence line, you’ll see a sign for the trail. Walking is easy on the abandoned dirt road here, which leads to woods. Along the way, interpretive signs tell you about the area. Peverly Pond Trail begins to the left of the parking lot and meanders through a forest to Upper Peverly Pond. In season, you can check out vernal pools.

Remember: While full-service bathrooms are in the comfort station, no drinkable water is available here.

Plan B:

The charming town of Portsmouth, a 15-minute drive from here, is fun to explore on foot.

Where to Eat Nearby:

The Newington Mall has numerous restaurants, and US 1 toward Portsmouth also offers a lot of options.


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