Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham NH was a wonderful spot for our first family camping trip of the season.
As we are a family of seven, with four teenagers, my oldest son decided to set up a campsite on his own, close enough for visits, but far enough for independence. He hadn’t counted on multiple visits from a pair of barred owls directly overhead. They took turns arguing over whose site it was. Ben eventually won.
Once our sites were set up, and the campfire started, the rest of the kids took off exploring the woods around the campsite. There were huge glacial boulders all around, and their explorations turned up this Blanding’s turtle, one of NH’s seven native turtles, and identified as a species in greatest need of protection by the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan.
This guy was moving pretty steadily toward its goal, most likely a nearby stream. We watched it awhile, then left to explore Pawtuckaway’s waterfront.
We walked the long beachfront before the kids waded in. The water was clean and fairly shallow. There was plenty of parking available nearby, a large playground, and easy access to hiking/bike trails and a well-stocked camp store.
Boat rentals are available, and according to Mac Thibault and his dad, Peter, the fishing is pretty good, too!
In the morning, realizing the breadth of this 5,500 acre park, we split into two groups. One group, led by myself, took kids on the water in our kayak. The other group went to explore the summit of South Mountain via the extensive trail system.
The boat launch was easy to access from a well marked parking lot. It led to a private inlet which opened to the greater 803-acre Pawtuckaway Lake. We decided to stay and explore the inlet, which was filled with birds, turtles, wild irises, and more glacial boulders.
This Eastern Painted Turtle is much more common than its cousin we met earlier.
Ben and dad took the high road toward the summit of South Mountain. Mountain Trail, accessed from the park entrance, skirted remarkable boulder formations and provided stunning views.
There were a few ponds along the trail which were of course inhabited by…..turtles!
Our weekend was filled with activities to please everyone, with a nice combination of well-prepared, relaxing spaces as well as wild, challenging explorations.
Our aunt shared a link with some fun camping tricks, and I adopted one which made our night much more illuminated! This is simply a candle surrounded by water bottles with their labels removed. We tried it with gallon jugs of water next, which worked great as well! Another ingenious tool we used was an empty #10 coffee can, drilled with a few holes, and filled with charcoal and twigs. This made a wonderful campfire mini-stove to heat our water kettle on. Morning coffee and tea are VERY important on camping trips… My husband suggested that next time, he would freeze water in the can, then puncture the ventilation holes.
Do you have any treasured camping tricks to share?