Date Of Visit: December 5, 2016
Location: 21 Kimball Hill Rd, Hudson, NH
Hours: Open everyday dawn until dusk
Parking I saw about 50 or so spots in the parking lot area
Handicapped accessible: Yes, but not on the hiking trails
Dog Friendly: Yes
Size of park and trails: 160 acres, 3 mile loop
Highlights: 9/11 memorial, ponds, trails, birds, playground, wildlife, big and pretty trees, “Woman With The Shoe”, “The Gorilla House”
Formerly known as Benson’s Wild Animal Farm and later New England Playworld, Benson Park was once a vast zoo that entertained countless visitors with their animals and attractions. The zoo may no longer be there but Benson Park still entertains visitors with its natural beauty.
Benson Parkwas bought by the state of New Hampshire and then transferred to the town of Hudson in 1998. It has since been converted to a play area and nature center. However, some remnants of the zoo remain which you will see later in this post.
The trails at Benson Park are easywith a few inclines.
The park now boasts a 3 mile loop and several ponds and streams. The ponds were partially frozen due to the cold weather and snow that was falling. It created some interesting shapes on the ice.
The park is a wonderful place for birding. There are a wide variety of birds at the park from egrets to much smaller birds like cardinals and robins. Cute birdhouses are scattered throughout the park to attract birds.
It snowed earlier in the day and it was still snowing when I arrived at Benson Park. The snow made the views at the park even prettier than usual.
I hope momma bird took her chicks out before all the snow.
While I didn’t see any wildlife, I did see lots of evidence of them in the snow. I would have loved to see just one of them up close.
The first thing you’ll notice as you enter Benson Park is the tasteful and somber September 11th memorial. Since some of the planes involved in that fateful day left from Boston’s Logan International Airport, some families in New Hampshire were directly affected. In fact, David Kovalcin, a resident of Hudson, was on Flight 11, the plane that crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center.
The memorial consists of several stone markers with the times and locations of each attack. A clock with the accurate time of each attack is engraved at the top of each monument. There is also a monument to each branch of the military that works to keep us safe.
There are benches surrounding the memorial to sit and reflect.
A steel beam from an elevator shaft at the World Trade Center is also at the memorial site. The nine-ton beam is from an elevator shaft on the 21st floor of the North Tower. Another bam stands next to it, representing the two towers at the site.
On a happier note, just beyond the September 11 memorial, there is a play area for children.
Just past the playground area is the “Gorilla House.” Tony the Gorilla used to live in this cage when the park was a zoo. The sign on the wall at the Gorilla House states that he used to watch tv and play in the Gorilla House when the area was a zoo. But, I couldn’t feel anything but a little sad and bothered by it. I know that is how we treat animals (which is a whole other issue for me) and he most likely was treated well enough. But, I always find it bothersome to see a majestic animal like that confined in such a way. The perspective you get from looking out through the bars from his view is poignant. In any case, children enjoy playing inside the cage and I think Tony would have liked it that way. A mural of what appears to be Tony is painted on the wall.
Fun fact: Colossus (aka Tony the Gorilla) ran for President against Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980. Rumor has it voters didn’t agree with his pro banana free trade stance.
Another fun attraction for children (or young at heart adults) is the Old Woman In The Shoe, baased on the nursery tale of the same name. The attraction is actually considered a historical monument. It’s slightly larger than my apartment.
Benson Park is a great place to take your dog. I saw a bunch of cute dogs during my visit.
Kuma (Japanese for “bear”), a 10 month old Akita from Maine, had fun playing in the snow.
Issy (short for Isabel), a 1 year old Lab mix, posed perfectly for me!
On my way to my car I saw this cutie. Daisy is a 4 year old Yellow Labrador.
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