Hidden Gems @ Pawtuckaway

This is for all you explorers and adventurers out there…

I have been living in Pawtuckaway State Park and exploring the trails for the past 2 months, and although that seems like ample time to get the “lay of the land”, I see something new every day.  There are some wonderful areas of the park that are well-known and easy to access such as the fire tower, the boulder field, Round Pond, and the summits of the three Pawtuckaway Mountains.  Yet, tucked away in the lesser-known areas of Pawtuckaway are a couple of hidden treasures that are worth finding.  I am going to share with you my top 4 “hidden gems” of this state park.  I’ll give you the basics of how to find them, but the rest is up to you- exploring and getting lost in the process is half the fun!


The Balancing Boulder

The Balancing Boulder at Pawtuckaway State Park

Maybe some of you rock-climbers have noticed this bizarre rock formation during a bouldering session, but this is a sight unseen for the general public.  These boulders were deposited on the ground by a large glacier thousands of years ago, and somehow one large boulder ended up balancing on a smaller rock.

BB-round pond
view of water blockage walking from Deerfield Road entrance. spin around for the next photo’s view….
…and take the trail off to the right to access the Balancing Boulder

How to find: You must begin your exploration on the eastern side of Round Pond.  To get there, you can either park at the Round Pond Rd lot from Deerfield Road or take Round Pond Rd from Reservation Rd and walk around the water blockage.  Take the smaller trail into the woods and start searching for this awesome feature.  I’ll give you a hint: try to find these two larger rocks pictured below.  You’ll know that you’re headed in the right direction when you see them.

BB-2nd rock

BB-1st rock

Incredible Pond

I heard great things about “Incredible Pond” from staff members and rock climbers since I moved to Pawtuckaway, but I only found it a few days ago!  I tried once on my own early in the season but ended up getting lost and missed the pond.  Luckily, one of the night watch workers (Tim) knew where the pond was and offered to take me.  Myself, night watch Tim, office manager Clare, and my partner in crime Sean all set off to find this magical place.

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view from the south end


After about an hour of searching, we finally came upon the pond from the south side.  This area doesn’t have the amazing view of the north side, but it was a good spot to take a break and sip some water.

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Sean’s spot on the rocks

We bushwhacked around the pond until we arrived at the northern end.  Here there are a few fantastic boulders perfect for scrambling up.  The best view is found on top of the boulders, so try to find a safe way up.  Sean (who has more experience rock climbing than any of us) got up the highest, but we all found a great spot to relax and enjoy the view.

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Incredible Pond is, in fact, incredible

How to find: Rather than telling you, I will show you.  Remember that the best place to view the pond is from the North side.

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Incredible Pond is circled in black. How to access the pond is up to you!


Picnic Table Boulder

 This one’s a little easier to find, but it still holds a very special place in my heart.  I used to live on a campsite on the Big Island at Pawtuckaway, but recently moved to a site in the group camping area.  As I excitedly explored my new home, I came across a huge boulder right on the water with a picnic table on it!  I have spent countless hours on this table; reading, writing, working, catching the sunset, stargazing, or just enjoying a few moments of peace on a busy day.  Occasionally I see other park visitors hanging out on the table. Friends, family, lovers, and strangers all enjoy this special little paradise.

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Another day in the office…

How to find:  If you start at the pavilion in the group camping area, head straight down towards the water.  You can’t miss it!


Discovery Trail

Do you love exploring the woods with your family, but shy away from the long hikes at Pawtuckaway State Park?  The shortest loop from the day-use area is over 3 miles long, which can be intimidating for a family just looking for a casual stroll.  Fear no longer!  Tucked away behind the beach is a short trail that’s perfect for a quick walk.  Take some time out of the hot sun and get under the shade of trees.  I’ve seen plenty of cool wildlife along this hike as well; hawks, toads, chipmunks, porcupines, and turkeys.  Keep your eyes peeled for signs of a beaver.  There is an old abandoned bathhouse in one area… wouldn’t it be great if that could become a nature center one day?

How to find:  The trails winds through the woods directly next to the marsh.  A good entrance point is right behind the beach, tucked behind some picnic tables and a grill.  Keep an eye out for a trailhead coming soon labeled “Discovery Trail”.  This will be a short self-guided hike with an interpretive handout that you can pick up at the office.  The trail should be complete within a few weeks, but until then, go ahead and explore the area yourself and see what you can find!



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.

One thought to “Hidden Gems @ Pawtuckaway”

  1. My wife and I were Kayaking Pawtuckaway Monday and we got some pretty good pictures of a parent loon with taking care of its baby and a blue heron hanging out on a boulder. I remember seeing a posting in a few places asking for wildlife photo’s but I don’t know who to send them to.


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