Discovering the Great North Woods

Exploring New Places

Before moving up to the Great North Woods, I had no idea what to expect. You can read about a new place before visiting, view picture-perfect photos, and hear stories from others, but you can never really know what is special about a place until you arrive and discover it for yourself. Every time that I go to a new place, I form an expectation at some level of what it might be like. Time and time again, I consistently find myself discovering something completely different then what was imagined.


I moved to Umbagog Lake State Park half way through the month of June, and since then I have been connecting with the area in more ways than one. In the short time I have had in my new home here in the Great North Woods, I have met many wonderful people, learned so many new things, and been inspired by the beauty that exists here in the northern part of New Hampshire.


From Dawn…

The scenery is stunning everywhere you look. I am constantly in awe with the view of the lake, as well as its surrounding mountains. The view never seems to get old or lose its appeal. As the sun rises early in the morning, the rays shine across the lake penetrating the momentary fog. A short stroll down to the peaceful shores in the early morning is an experience that should not be missed at Umbagog Lake. At this hour the campground is peaceful, and the experience is rejuvenating.

Photo Credit: Davis Brush
Photo Credit: Davis Brush

…To Dusk

The beach at the campground faces northwest. This makes it a great spot to enjoy the sunset across the water. On a clear evening, it is common to see a brightly painted sky. Below is a sunset from Thursday June 25 that lit up the entire sky and lake. The radiant clouds and sharp colors that reflected on the flat and calm water are unforgettable.

Sunset from Umbagog Lake State Park: July 25, 2015


From High to Low

Down near the lake, the sunsets are hypnotizing, but if you drive out of the campground and up to a higher elevation, you can appreciate the area from a different perspective. This week I made a short drive across the border into the state of Maine, and hiked my way up a steep slope to the top of Speck Mountain. At the top waits a lookout tower, which provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. From here you can find a great view of the entirety of Umbagog Lake. Beyond the lake, the ancient Appalachians extend as far as the eye can see.

View of Umbagog Lake from Speck Mountain


The Wild North

Seeing the view from this high up makes you feel small in relation to the rest of the world. It really puts into perspective just how much nature encompasses the northern part of the state. This is a place where wildlife flourishes, which is abundant in these parts. There are signs of moose around every corner. Bald eagles nest all around the lake. When night falls, the mesmerizing call of the loon echo’s across the water.

Lone loon on Umbagog Lake


Happy Campers

Returning year after year, the visitors at Umbagog Lake are seasoned campers. It is pretty common for a visitor to stay in the park for weeks at a time. Some have even been camping at the lake for 25+ years. It is not a mystery to me as to why campers have been returning to Umbagog Lake for years. Sincerely, the visitors themselves are a great reason to visit the park. I quickly learned that the campers at the park are quite open and friendly.

One afternoon, I made a short trip into Errol to get some supplies for the week. Upon returning, I found a nice surprise on the front porch of my cabin. Three delicious egg sandwiches and a cup of cold orange juice left behind from campers that were staying in one of the cabins on-site.

Delicious gift from some campers!


From Past to Present

To top off the natural wonders of the area, there are incredible stories to be told. From the time when Abenaki Native Americans to the loggers that risked their lives, this area is full of history. Learning these stories is fun and easy. The locals are exceedingly friendly and welcoming. Just a hint of interest about the history of the region, and the locals will be more than happy to ramble on and share fascinating stories. Most locals that I have met are closely connected with the land, its stories, and the people that roamed these parts in the past.

After exploring Umbagog Lake and the Great North Woods region, I encountered this familiar experience of surprise that naturally happens when visiting a new place. I have lived in Umbagog Lake State Park for just over 3 weeks now, and I have discovered much more magnificence here than I could have possibly expected. There are so many wonderful and wild things about this area that reach far deeper than the eye can see. Visiting the Great North Woods is necessary to fully understand its beauty.


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.

4 thoughts to “Discovering the Great North Woods”

  1. Great description and beautiful pictures. We are definatly planning a trip to come up there. Hope to be able to enjoy a sunrise walk with you when we do.

  2. I am bringing a small group of high school students to the lake in just over a week. I am looking for information on the hike from Cedar Stump. Mostly, is it doable as a day trip from site 18. Can you offer us any information?

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