Bear Brook State Park – August 13, 2011
If there’s a state park in New Hampshire that’s made for everyone it might be Bear Brook State Park. At 10,000 acres it’s certainly one of the bigger parks in the state and it’s home to a huge network of trails that are open for hiking, biking, and equestrian use.
The fun at Bear Brook doesn’t stop on the trails though. You can rent a boat or laze around the sandy beach at Catamount Pond, check out the museum complex that’s housed in historic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, or set up camp at the 101-site campground that sits at the edge of Beaver Pond. Sportsman will be happy spending the day at Archery Pond where you can make use of the fly-fishing only pond or test your skills on the archery range that follows a trail lined with targets through the woods.
I made my way to Bear Brook State Park one Saturday morning when I caught wind of an Antique and Classic Car Show going on inside the park. Driving up through the densely wooded park I was surprised when I turned the corner to see hundred’s of unique cars parked in a large grassy field. I wandered through the rows of cars with my voting ballot in hand, but with so much variety it was tough to pick out a favorite. From hot roads to trucks, jeeps, and souped-up sports cars I felt like a kid again ogling at the beefy engines and clean lines of all these great automobiles.
Fueled with a little horsepower inspiration I hit the trails on my mountain bike carrying a little more speed than usual. At over 40 miles the network of trails can be a little daunting to the first-timer at Bear Brook, but a great trail map and a helpful trail guide are available to get you on the right track.
I started off on the Bear Brook trail following along the water bobbing up and down on the flowing single-track. Pointing my bike to the south I broke off on to the Little Bear Trail, and climbed up to reach the Hedgehog Loop. Mistakenly named, the Hedgehog Trail snakes in out of a unique area of big boulders and rock walls where porcupines make their homes, not hedgehogs.
Looping around the Hayes Marsh, I made my way back to the Bear Brook trail for an easy ride back to the parking area. Sweaty and dirty from my bike ride, the beach at Catamount Pond was calling my name. After a quick swim and feeling refreshed, I drove down to Archery Pond where I spent the rest of the afternoon casting flies across the quiet water. Although I got a few nibbles here and there, I ended up without any takers, and it was still the perfect way to wind my day down at Bear Brook State Park.