“Go big or go home” seems to be Greenfield State Park’s motto. The park has 252 campsites. It has paved roads and trails for biking. It has two ponds (Hogback Pond and Mud Pond) with dog-friendly trails. It, also, has the cute towns of Greenfield and Peterborough to its right and left. Despite all of these attractions, most campers set up their site and head directly to Otter Lake. This is definitely the place to be at Greenfield. Campers always comment on the beauty of the view from the beach and the fun experiences they have with their families while spending an afternoon there.
But did you know that there are three beaches to explore? “Go big or go home”, right? While some people hop from one beach to another, most campers come back to a specific one year after year. Although that is quite fine, it is good to know about the options the park provides. So sit back and skim through these descriptions of Greenfield’s three beaches and see which beach is right for you!
Picnic Beach is popular for day-use groups during the week, but it is usually not very crowded. It is right by the entrance road and is close to the large bathroom. Furthermore, this beach sports the most interesting combination of landscapes. There is the sandy beach area, and the playground. But there is also an Eastern Hemlock grove more like the middle of a forest than right next to a lake. Because of their thick, needled branches, this grove is an ideal source of shade in the heat of the day. Around this beach, there are signs of animals such as squirrels, eastern phoebes, chickadees, and the loon pair that uses Otter Lake.
The nature programs offered at Picnic Beach range from arts and crafts to obstacle courses.
Middle beach is the least used of the beaches because it is tucked away from the road and hidden from the other beaches. It is the closest of our beaches to the store, where you can rent boats, buy snacks, and any needed camping item. Furthermore, Middle Beach is across from the fully vegetated swamp. During the day, you will see numerous bird species that use the blueberry bushes (Yes! Blueberry bushes!) and swamp trees: red-winged blackbirds, cedar waxwings, and chipping sparrows. There is even some evidence of raccoons or possibly otters that hunt for muscles in the area.
If you enjoy stargazing, Middle Beach is the most open area to do so. However, you need to be accompanied by the interpretive ranger during a night program, because no one is allowed on the beach after dusk.
This is, as the name suggests, the beach most used by campers. There is a direct route from the campground to this beach, and it has its own bathroom for guests’ convenience. Of the beaches, this is Greenfield’s largest and is where humans and wildlife share space. Fisherman and the Great Blue Heron search for fish in the reeds, and ducks and campers swim in the cool, shallow water.
Often overlooked at Camper’s Beach is Beaver Pond, a man-made pond that flows into Otter Lake. This pond is a safe-haven for many amazing plants and creatures. Currently blooming are the pickerel weed, whose nectar feeds hummingbirds, and the yellow water lily. The most popular attraction at the pond is the frogs: Green frogs and bullfrogs are very common and very loud if you stand there long enough.
Nature programs found at this beach include searching for macro-invertebrates in the pond and treasure hunts.
Although each beach is different, there are amazing activities and discoveries at each. Please feel free to take a walk to all three and see what excitement Picnic, Middle or Camper’s beach holds. Finally, please find me, Ranger Julia, during my beach programs and tell me about any natural wonder you’ve found at your favorite beach. Hope to see you there!