Date Visited: August 27, 2016
Location: 157 Deerfield Rd, Allenstown, NH
Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children (ages 6-11), children 5 and under get in for free, NH residents 65 and older are also admitted free of charge
Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset, campground schedule: May 6 -Oct. 29 (2016), Sun-Thu 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Fri 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Size: 10,000 acres
Time To Allot For Visit: 2 to 3 hours
Parking: There are about 50-60 parking spaces in the main parking area (see photo below)
Additional parking can be found at Hayes Field (see attached map)
Dog Friendly: Yes
Highlights: Very popular with cyclists, several large ponds and marshes, teeming with wildlife, campgrounds, archery target area, fishing (fly fishing only)
Lowlights: too big to hike or bike all in one day
A haven for cyclists and nature lovers, Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, New Hampshire is the largest developed state park in New Hampshire. Boasting 10,000 acres, over 40 miles of trails, several ponds and other bodies of water and marsh lands, Bear Brook is the biggest state park I have hiked.
Although there were many frogs and turtles visible at Bear Brook, birds, deer and other wildlife proved to be more elusive.
Bear Brook also has a fishing area, two of them actually. There is the Archery Pond, which also has an archery target area. Only fly fishing is allowed in the pond.
The archery target practice area is to the right of the pond.
Across the paved road from Archery is a kids fishing pond for children 12 years old and younger. A fishing pond for children! How cute is that?
What my visit to Bear Brook lacked in deer, birds and other more typically photographed wildlife, it made up for in smaller critters.
I did see a few runners and hikers but the overwhelming majority of the visitors at Bear Brook were cyclists. The trails vary from flat and easy to steep, rocky and challenging. I would consider some trails to be very challenging even for the advanced cyclist and I did not see any cyclists on some of the more steep and rocky trails.
You never know what you’ll find at Bear Brook State Park. While walking along the main trail, I came across this grave site for an unknown soldier from the Civil War. There is no marker for the Union or Confederacy. The only flag or designation displayed is an American flag.
There is also a stream running under a bridge at the entrance
There are also several ponds, marshes and creeks.
There are also beautiful, vividly colored trees, plant life, spiderwebs (ok, maybe that’s not so beautiful) and a sign that summer is soon ending.
Speaking of beautiful trees and plants, one that thing is hate to see at parks is the cutting down of trees or, as the parks call it”sanitation timber harvest.” However, in the case of Bear Brook, and most state parks, there was good reason for this sanitation. Because of an infestation of red pine scale, many of the red pine plantations had to be cut down. The sanitation began in 2013 and was completed in 2014. For whatever reason, it’s always sort of sad to see so many open spaces and stumps.
The trail for Hayes Farm does not lead to a farm but rather what used to be a farm. You can see remnants of the stones which surrounded the farm from the trail.
This is my only gripe about the park. There are long swaths of land without much there. It’s very pretty and largely untouched by humans. In fact, it is such a big park that I was unable to get to one of the bigger attractions, Catamount Trail that is supposed to have pretty scenic views. But, after 6 hours of hiking and photographing the park I didn’t have the energy for that hike. But, keep it in mind if you do go.
There is also a campground with a place to park your camper or rent one of their own. Check their website for fees and availability.
There were not many dogs at Bear Brook. In fact, Jack, a 9 year old rat terrier from Rhode Island, is the only dog I saw during my trip.
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