Chesterfield Gorge State Wayside area on Rt. 9 in Chesterfield lies a few miles to the west of busy Keene, NH. This unique geologic wonder invites exploration in all seasons, but is best when the Wilde River is running high!
The 13 acre park is cared for by NH State Parks and local conservation groups. Although it is no longer fully staffed, the Gorge trail is clean and well maintained. With the entrance directly on Rt 9, ease of access makes this a popular and comfortable hike for all ages.
At the beginning of the trail, previous hikers left great walking sticks to share. In case of ice on the trip, we chose one or two and started the short 0.7 mile walk through white pine and hemlock.
There are kiosks at the trailhead which describe the geologic formations we are about to experience. You can read about them here…Suffice to say that we are entering a scene worthy of any adventure-fantasy story. Our family believes this could have been where Narnia was inspired.
Because this is a short loop, with railings at steep points and beautiful bridges to cross the river, an efficient person could easily make this walk in 20 minutes or less. But why would anyone want to rush past all this beauty?
Our trip took over an hour, there were seven of us exploring the ice structures at the rivers edge or the woods just off the trail. The sound of the river sometimes drowning out the calls of, “You gotta see this!”
We have brought our family to this Gorge many times in the warm weather, but this is our first experience in winter. I usually think of winter as a dormant season to survive. Watching the river and walking through the rock formations, with every 10 feet bringing a new ice sculpture, you realize the importance of accepting the struggle, appreciating the beauty that comes from the simplicity of new snow.
So in honor of winter and short, cold difficult days, here’s my New Year’s advice for 2014!
Share the journey…(and I’ll add- Keep Your Feet Dry to this one….)-
Stop for the bizarre-
Seek out the wild-
And most important…Get Outside!
May your new year be filled with wonderful experiences!- Lisa