By: Emily Tonn
As a Digital Educator Naturalist with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps, I have been living in Bear Brook State Park since January with eight other AmeriCorps members. Throughout the time I have been here, we have had plenty of time to explore the park and hike the trails. Here are six of my favorite trails in Bear Brook State Park:
1. Beaver Pond
Beaver Pond Trail is a 2 mile, relatively flat, loop trail around Beaver Pond. This is one of my personal favorite trails, and it is very close to the campground in Bear Brook State Park. You get great views of Beaver Pond and also get to see some of Spruce Pond on this loop trail. The trail walks through part of the campground, so if you are camping here for a night this trail is a must! There is also a beach on Beaver Pond that is a great spot to stargaze if you camp here.
2. Catamount Hill and One Mile Loop
This is a 4.3 mile loop trail that goes up one of the largest hills in Bear Brook State Park. This trail has some good views as you head towards the top of Catamount Hill–you can see much of the surrounding landscape, and the lookouts make a good place to stop for a photo or a snack. I would recommend starting by heading up Catamount Hill as you will do the tougher part of the hike first, however, if you want to save the views for the end, you will want to start on One Mile Trail and head up Catamount at the end.
3. Hall Mountain
Hall Mountain Trail is a loop trail that goes up Hall Mountain and around Hall Mountain Marsh. It is a moderate 5.5 mile trail with 600 feet of elevation gain throughout. This trail leads to some cool forested areas, the top of Hall Mountain, and a good view of the Hall Mountain marsh. There is a good lookout before Hall Mountain, but on the actual mountain, there isn’t a great view, but there is a nice field with a good picnic spot. I enjoyed this hike overall!
4. Broken Boulder to Smith Pond
This trail is also relatively close to the campground at Bear Brook and takes around an hour to hike. Part of the hike is on the Campground Road, but once you walk down this, you’ll take a right onto Broken Boulder Trail, which will lead you to Smith Pond. Campground Road crosses over Bear Brook and gives you a good spot to stop and admire the area. Once you reach Smith Pond, there are stairs leading down to the pond, and you get a great view of the pond. If you are interested, there is also a shelter here that you can make a reservation to camp at. This trail is also one of my personal favorites, it is pretty short and has good views and opportunities for wildlife sightings.
5. Bear Brook
This trail follows Bear Brook as it meanders through the park. It is really pretty to follow and would be a great summertime trail with many opportunities to stop and wade in the water. The trail is a 2.4 mile easy out and back, but can easily be made into a more moderate hike by creating a loop with Lane Trail and Hayes Farm Trail. This area can be a bit confusing as there are a lot of intersecting trails, so it is a good idea to bring along a map or have a trail map downloaded.
This trail is popular for mountain biking, but my friends and I found ourselves on this trail the other day. This trail was full of large hemlocks that shaded the trail, but the rest of the trail was very open. The trail also crosses and follows parts of Bear Brook, giving a cool variety on the trail. Hemlock Trail is fairly easy for beginners and a good way to start your hiking journey. The trail isn’t too long, it is around 2 miles but can easily be made longer by looping onto Pitch Pine Trail, or can be made shorter by turning around earlier.
Whether you come hiking in Bear Brook or hike in a park local to you, be sure to bring a water bottle and a map! Get out there and enjoy the spring and summer weather, have fun hiking!