The sky was dreary and it was snowing when I entered Bear Brook State Park. Yet I was excited to be outside even if the weather wasn’t ideal. Bear Brook is a place where natural beauty meets human achievement. You can spend an afternoon in Catamount Pond or hiking the miles that span the park. You can also visit the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum to see where these workers lived. Or you can take a walk through the timber harvest area and see the impact invasive species can have. This week I am going to share with you some of the most interesting places to discover in Bear Brook State Park.
At Bear Brook, several miles of trail offer fun for all types of winter activities. On the weekends, many come out to enjoy the trails on snowmobiles. Miles of trails give them many options to enjoy the park. There are also many places to snowshoe and cross country ski. The parks vast trail system offers a spectrum of opportunities for all types of winter enthusiasts.
I spent part of my afternoon walking the Bear Brook Trail. Making my way along, I gazed down to see Bear Brook breaking through the snow and ice below me. I found quiet solitude in the woods, and as I walked along, I was thankful for the overarching quiet. The packed down snow on the trails made hiking easy. Even with the recent thaw, winter continues to hold on. Snow continued to fall, settling on the pines along the trail. Ice still clung stubbornly to branches and last years remnant leaves. It was a great experience to be out hiking at Bear Brook. These trails give everyone an opportunity to enjoy nature to its fullest.
This picturesque pond serves as the setting for Bear Brook’s day use area. As the snow fell down, the entire park was surrounded by an overwhelming calm. I was able to fully explore every corner of the beautiful day use area. This is one of the major advantages of visiting our State Parks in the off-season. Winter tends to be a quieter time, giving visitors a chance to really take in all the park has to offer.
As I made my way around, I admired all the parts of Bear Brook that make this area what is is. I studied the statue that commemorates the foundation the CCC laid for Bear Brook State Park. The statute of an unassuming man stares endlessly over Catamount Pond. Snow quietly fell on the pavilions as well. As I made my way further I came to where the dam meets the head of the pond. The ice ended barely before the dam, and the water poured down, before making its way downstream. I sat there in quiet contemplation enjoying the moment. Catamount Pond is a prime location to see the natural beauty found here.
CCC Camps and Museum
Bear Brook is full of history. Some of the greatest is the history of the Civilian Conservation Corp, or the CCC. The Camp was established in the 1930’s and is one of the last remaining CCC sites in the United States. Many of the parks features were built by workers in the 1930’s. We tend to focus on the accomplishments of the CCC, but very little attention is given to the day to day lives of the workers. The camp at Bear Brook allows you an opportunity to experience this.
The camps at Bear Brook fully immerse you in the day to day life of the workers. The museum is not open in the winter, but I was able to explore the area. In the peaceful quiet I found myself wondering what their day to day lives consisted of. The simple shingled structures are well built, not fancy, but here to serve a purpose. As I walked around I found myself truly engaged with the history. The CCC camp at Bear Brook gives visitors a first hand experience of this history, and that’s what make it so special. The CCC was one of the greatest things this country accomplished, and Bear Brook is a fitting home to this history.
Timber Harvest Area
Another area of interest for me was the area of the Timber Harvest. In the summer of 2012 an infestation of Red Pine Scale was discovered in a stand of trees in the park. The state took action removing acres of trees to combat the invasive species. The Red Pine Scale infestation is important because of its scope. It affected 118 acres of Bear Brook State Park. The area serves as a visual representation of the impact invasive species can have.
As I walked back from the CCC museum I was stunned. As I looked across the road, I saw a large open space where tall trees once stood. It brought home to me the impact that these non-native species have. If we want to prevent things like this from happening we must act in a proactive manner. Even if it seems tedious, we need to follow the procedures laid out by the state. We all enjoy these magnificent places, and have a responsibility to protect them. The Timber Harvest at Bear Brook serves as a living example of why we need to be diligent and do our part to help our forests.
I spent the whole afternoon at Bear Brook, and was only able to visit a small portion of the park. Bear Brook has so much to offer, even during the winter there are so many activities for people to enjoy. Bear Brook is a place of both historical and natural significance that not only shows us the beauty of the past, but the lessons of the future.
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