Dublin Lake is actually a pond, one of dozens scattered across the Monadnock region. Sailboats skimming across the waves should remind us that this beautiful lake is much more than a traffic hazard. Constant winds make Dublin Lake tricky for canoeing but perfect for sailing. The launch site is at Lake Road, about 4 miles from Route 101 (across the lake from the infamous curve). Parking is rather limited, given the popularity of the lake.
Contoocook’s 200-plus acres remain popular with boaters and fishermen, although the milfoil here is a textbook example of why environmentalists fear the invasive plant. The public launch is off Route 202 in Jaffrey. PLEASE clean your boat and trailer and flush your motor before you leave this parking lot, to avoid spreading milfoil to other lakes.
Lower Stillwater in Marlow to West Swanzey
Choose whether you want to begin with a Class III rapid and put in either above or below “Surprise Rapids,” which you can examine from the bridge on Route 10. After a mile of relatively easy paddling there’s a 2-mile stretch of very challenging whitewater, with Class III and IV rapids galore. The river calms down a bit as it approaches Gilsum, but you’ll still need to keep your wits about you. There’s a picnic area in Gilsum just below Route 10, where you must take out because the Gilsum gorge is just ahead. Below the gorge the road is close to the river, and you can put in again. This next section, about 4 miles long, is predominately Class II rapids, followed by 5 miles of quick current leading up to the Surry Mountain flood control dam, where you have to take out. Below the dam the river is mostly smooth, winding 7 miles through open land and into Keene. You’ll have to take out to get around the Keene flood control dam, but there’s a nice park here. Smooth paddling continues for another 9 miles into West Swanzey, where yet another dam interrupts the river. Theoretically you could continue on the Ashuelot all the way to the Connecticut, but residents suggest waiting until pollution-control measures improve the water, which has been severely impacted by nearly two centuries of industrial waste.
Jaffrey to Bennington to Hillsboro to West Henniker
The first section of the Contoocook is almost 7 miles of Class II rapids in early spring, interrupted by a narrow gorge that can sometimes provide a Class IV but more often requires a portage. Put in at the bridge on Route 202 just below the Cheshire Pond. You have to take out at the dam in Peterborough, where you may decide to quit or put in again to enjoy the calmer 12-mile paddle from Peterborough to Bennington. This is considered one of the nicest canoe trips in the southern part of the state. Several dams and a paper mill in Bennington require a long portage here, or make it a good place to begin a trip north. You can put in at the bridge near the paper company. From Bennington the river winds along through wooded countryside to Hillsboro, where two dams and treacherous rapids require you to take out. For a challenging whitewater workout, put in again below the village by the railroad bridge. After about 4 miles of smooth current, 2 miles of Class III and IV rapids begin, including one rapid known as the Freight Train. The river runs quickly into West Henniker, where a dangerous dam necessitates a quick take-out at Route 202.
ANNETT WAYSIDE PARK (STATE PARK)
Off Route 119, Rindge
This wayside area is part of the 1,494-acreAnnett State Forest, and offers a nice picnic area close to the Cathedral of the Pines. Pets are welcome.
Bear Den Natural Area (Gilsum)
Route 10 South, A short walk to ancient glacial pot holes and a bit further to ledges that may have once been a denning area for bears.
Route 9, Chesterfield
Footpaths along a gorge, which a stream has carved deep into ledge; picnic areas.
Greenfield State Park
(Greenfield, NH, off Rt. 136). 400 acres on Otter Lake with completely separated areas for campers and day visitors. Waterfront area includes swimming. Large picnic grounds for families and organized groups. Campground of 252 tent sites, separate beach, nature trails. Snowmobiling and XC skiing. (603) 547-3497. Admission $3.00, children 11 & under free.
Miller State Park
(Peterborough, Rt. 101). Located on the 2,290-foot summit and flank of Pack Monadnock, Miller is the oldest state park in New Hampshire. A winding 1.3-mile paved road leading to the scenic summit is open for visitors to drive in summer and on spring and fall weekends. Picnicking and hiking are popular here. Admission $3.00, children 11 & under free.
MONADNOCK STATE PARK
Some might say that a visit to the Monadnock region is not complete without a climb up Mount Monadnock. It is the biggest draw in the region and the most-climbed mountain in the United States. (Numbers aren’t available, but it is generally reported that Mount Monadnock has more people hike to the summit than any mountain in the world except for Mount Fuji in Japan.) The park and visitors center are open all year. Pick up a guide to the more than 40 miles of trails within the park most leading to the 3,165-foot summit. It is a favorite spot for winter camping and a popular fair-weather picnic destination. Call for current rates and accessibility. No pets.
Otter Brook Dam and Lake (Roxbury, Keene). Picnic and swimming. Sandy beach and lawns at this man-made lake. Free admission.
Pierce Island State Park (Spofford Lake). Actually a 5-acre island approximately 1/4 mile from state boat landing, Pierce Island is densely wooded with Hemlocks. Free admission. No facilities.
PISGAH STATE PARK & FOREST
Rte 119 & 10, Rte 63,
Hinsdale, Winchester & Chesterfield, NH
MADAME SHERRI FOREST
West Chesterfield, NH
www.nhstateparks.com/forests/madame.htmlNew Hampshire’s largest state park is 13,800 acres of mostly undeveloped land. It’s in the southwest corner of the Monadnock region. The park overlaps the towns of Winchester, Hinsdale and Chesterfield. Trailheads are clearly marked. From the top of Mount Pisgah (1,300 feet) you’ll get a great view of the Connecticut River to the west and Mount Monadnock to the east. The park does not allow camping, but you are welcome to bring your pets as long as they are on a leash.
RHODODENDRON STATE PARK
Just off Route. 119, Fitzwilliam
You’ll find this National Natural Landmark 2.5 miles west of downtown Fitzwilliam. Rhododendron State Park has more than 16 acres of wild rhododendron, Rhododendron maximum. While most guidebooks suggest that the peak of bloom occurs in mid-July, locals know that even late-blooming rhododendron are at their peak here in late June. Visitors arriving in mid-July should expect fewer blossoms than those arriving two or three weeks earlier. In bloom or not, this wonderful natural area with trails, wildflowers and breathtaking views of Mount Monadnock is a treat. This park is a great spot for picnics. Call for current rates and accessibility. No pets.
Surry Mountain Dam and Lake
Camping, picnicking, swimming and boating. Sand beach and sprawling lawns. Free admission to beach and picnic area. Free admission.
CHESHIRE ICE ARENA
Route 12, Swanzey
HUMISTON FIELD SKATING RINK
ROBIN HOOD PARK
Wheelock Park, Keene
341 Rt. 9, Roxbury, NH
Road's End Farm and Ski Touring Center
Jackson Hill Road, Chesterfield, NH 03443
Temple Mountain Ski Area
Rt. 101, Temple, NH
Windblown Cross Country Skiing
1180 Turnpike Road, Route 124, New Ipswich, NH 03071. Since 1972, Windblown has been one of New England's premier cross country ski centers. This full service area includes: 25 miles of trails with state-of-the-art grooming, handcrafted base lodge with restaurant, 150 sets of rental skis, lessons, shelters and beautiful views.
62 Woodbound Rd., Rindge, NH
Total Kilometers: 20, with 17 tracked, 2 skate groomed and 3 backcountry.
You don’t have to stay at the inn to ski, but guests ski free. There are 18 kilometers of tracked cross-country trails. The terrain is both wooded and open meadow and is equally divided between beginner, intermediate and advanced trails. A part of the 9-hole, par three golf course becomes a practice area for those new to the sport of cross-country skiing. You can warm up in the lounge and refuel in the restaurant. The Inn also offers a lighted skating pond and sliding hill.