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.

Gorge post

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.

Beginning of the trail

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.

Wilde River

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?

Wilde River 2

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.

snowy river

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-

ice forms

Seek out the wild-

stones and water

Keep perspective-


And most important…Get Outside!


May your new year be filled with wonderful experiences!- Lisa

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One thought on “Chesterfield Gorge in Winter

  1. Thank you for the reminder of the natural beauty so readily available in this area. A tasseled velvet ottoman is the height of luxury to a footsore traveler. How much more so is the fantasy image created by the picture of the snow and ice decorated boulder. I love the outdoors in all seasons. Thanks for sharing.

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