Bear Brook Trail Fever

By: Charles Ferens, 2019 Student Conservation Association New Hampshire AmeriCorps Member

As a member of the SCA New Hampshire Corps we have the great opportunity of living in one of New Hampshire’s largest State Parks: Bear Brook.  With this great opportunity comes the ability to explore the park and all of its natural wonders.  When I first arrived at the park in January I was overwhelmed with the overall size of the park (over 10,000 acres), but it has only recently struck me how lucky I am to live in such an immense place that never ceases to show me something new.  The first week at Bear Brook I took a trip down the Broken Boulder Trail and highlighted it on my personal map.  Who knew that a simple act like this could start a feverish, almost addicting need to explore the park and hike every trail.  I think I have a case of Bear Brook Trail Fever

My nearly complete trail map for Bear Brook State Park.

Since January, I’ve added a lot of ink to my printed trail map of Bear Brook State Park! In fact, there are more trails highlighted than not.  Is this a problem?  Maybe it is if you consider the blisters on my feet or the aches in my legs following our 12-mile adventure to find the Lost Shelter.  Nevertheless, who could pass up these beautiful trails?

A snowy section of Spruce Pond Road following a late January storm.
A stretch of Podunk Road between the Lynx Trail and Broken Boulder Trail. The trails in Bear Brook take new form at night!

Even though my feet and legs may say otherwise, my trail addiction has some positive side effects besides the great views.  First, I feel much more comfortable with where I live.  The sense of knowing how the trail from the park gate to Spruce Pond bends and where the best spot to find high ground gives me a sense of being home.  Recognizing the trails, trees, and other natural landscapes lets me know I am where I should be. 

The vista near the peak of Catamount Hill.

The second positive side effect of Bear Brook Trail Fever is having an outlet to use the skills we as SCA NH Corps members develop, like winter tree identification, animal tracking, and historical landscape surveying.  Nothing beats being able to look up and down a tree to decipher that it is in fact a black oak, look across a marsh to tell whether beavers are still active, or follow a pair of coyote tracks for a hundred yards to find it was a visiting family-dog.  The trails at Bear Brook State Park have given myself and other members the desired outlet for some of these developing outdoor educator skills.

Fallen trees like this are a sure sign of a beaver’s presence.

Other side-effects of trying to explore the whole park include finding the hidden gems that Bear Brook has to offer.  I’m talking about challenging trails like the Lost Trail and Hall Mountain, the vistas like Catamount Hill, and the hidden gems like the Lost Shelter and the various bear carvings.  This is a great list of places to check off your Bear Brook Trail Map, but it is not exhaustive. 

Hidden treasures like this carving of a bear can be found all over Bear Brook State Park. This gem can be found along the Camp Trail but only if you look carefully.

Here are some other positive side effects of Bear Brook Trail Fever:

  • Spontaneous introspection and self-reflection
  • New or enhanced friendships
  • A break from stuffy cabin air
Don’t forget to grab a friend when you hit the trail!

Do you have Bear Brook Trail Fever? Grab a map, a highlighter, and I’ll see you on the trail!


Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps and made possible by generous financial support from Eversource. The program offers a look into the natural world through hands-on programming. Interpretive programs focus on connecting participants with nature and building appreciation for New Hampshire's unmatched natural heritage. Programs include guided hikes, interpretive tours, and imaginative environmental workshops for children and families. Programs are offered free to guests with paid park admission fee. No pre-registration is required.

5 thoughts to “Bear Brook Trail Fever”

  1. I enjoyed reading about your experience so much that i’ve added Bear Brook State Park to my bucket list. Thank you for sharing Charlie!

  2. Sounds like you settling in. Glad to hear your enjoying yourself. Post more pictures cuz I know it’s beautiful there. Stay safe!

  3. Oh my gosh Charlie, your account of Bear Brook makes me want to get some hiking boots and travel there. You painted an amazing picture of the beauty of your current home away from home . We are so happy that you have chosen this beautiful place to do your internship and to share its splendor w us. Love you Aunt Pat

  4. Thank you very much for writing this! This article brings back a fountain of memories from my own travels throughout the park (durring my time running the program nearly 20 years ago), I also had Bear Brook “trail fever” – traveling on foot, nordic skis, or on my bike. BB treasures are amazing, not only for it’s natural beauty (like the nearly 4 foot diamiter white pine near Hayes marsh!), but also for the rich history, whether native American, colonial, CCC, and SCA. All year is beautiful at BB, but in a winter sesson where consistent snow blankets the forest floor – it is when I find it the most enchanting. I still visit when I can! I hope your time at BB and with SCA is awesome!!
    -K. Friedland

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