Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday in New Hampshire - Bear Brook State Park

Growing up as a little girl, one of my favorite things to do, and some of my happiest memories are going to Bear Brook State Park with my family.

This was in the 1970's - the mid 1970's to the late 1970's. The drive wasn't far, maybe about 30-50 minutes. We'd always go on a Sunday. Everyone had the day off back then. It would be me, my dad, my mom, and my younger sister, Christine; and we'd all coordinate to meet the rest of the family at the park at the same time. Who was the rest of the family?

My grandparents on my father's side would come - Granny and Grandpa. One of my favorite Aunties, Auntie Sue would be there with Uncle Gary and Emily and Matthew, their kids, my cousins. They were little like Christine. Sometimes my Uncle Rusty and my Uncle Mark would come too.

We'd get there early, about 10, when it opened, and even back then, we had to pay a small fee to get in. Then we'd unload the car with our towels and coolers and reclining chairs and walk from the parking lot into the park. We liked to get there early so we could get shade. One of our favorite spots was by a brook because my dad and grandfather and my uncles would fish.

After we got all set up, my dad might rent a boat and fish. The "women," my mom, Auntie Sue, and Granny would start the grill. After lunch, I remember going down to the swimming area in the lake. They had a floating platform in the deep end and I remember that I was very proud of myself when I learned to swim all the way out there. It was fun to jump off the platform. The picture above is the "gatehouse" in front of the swimming area where you could rent boats, rent umbrellas, and even get snacks.

After swimming, we'd go on a hike - the women and the kids. Sometimes my dad took me fishing, sometimes he wanted to be alone. What I loved about hiking in the afternoon is going on the paths, picking blueberries and finding the little swing, teeter totter and merry go around in the middle of the woods. We would have so much fun. I can't explain the fun, but I can tell you it's like the sun parting gray clouds in the middle of a deary day and smiling it's warmth down on you. Sigh...

After our hike, we'd go back, eat a dinner, usually our lunch dinner were hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and I remember some steaks. There was plenty to drink.

We took a lot of pictures. Sadly, I don't have access to them. My mom had a 8 mm camera and she took some great pictures of our family gatherings, but 8mm is soooo out these days. My Auntie Sue probably has pictures from the 1970's. I'll have to ask her. The picture on the left is a picture of one of the picnic areas. I remember the park would be packed with families on Sundays. We never used that area because our family wasn't usually that big.
After dinner, we might swim a little longer until the sun started to go down and then we'd go home. Good memories. Happy memories of a young girl.
Bear Brook is off NH Route 28 in Allentown. It's not far from Manchester where I grew up. This blurb is from
Bear Brook, with over 10,000 acres is the largest developed state park in New Hampshire. Located in the southeast region of the state, there is plenty to do and see for everyone.
Hiking, biking, swimming and fishing are a few of the favorites. Forty miles of trails traverse the heavily forested park, leading to seldom visited marshes, bogs, summits and ponds and offer a variety of options for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Canoe rentals are available at Catamount Ponds, while rowboat rentals are also available at Beaver Pond.
Fly-fishing enthusiasts will be pleased to know Archery Pond welcomes their specialty and is universally accessible. Across the road from Archery Pond is a special little pond just for children under twelve to fish. If archery is your sport you might already know that Bear Brook boasts the only two archery ranges in the state park system. One 15-target range is maintained by the N.H. Fish and Game Department, plus an additional 4-target practice range that is universally accessible. (Bring your own archery equipment.)
Worried about no workouts or aerobics while on vacation? You can stay in shape by using the park's 1 1/4 mile, twenty-station fitness course that is fun for the whole family. A charge for admission is collected at the toll booth near Catamount Pond. Pets: Leashed pets are permitted in the campground on the trails only, not in the day-use area. Service animals are exempt from this policy.
There's still a small fee for entry for day use $4.00 for adults, $2.00 for kids. Not bad, considering the memories you'll make there.
And that's my NH tidbit of the day. Bear Brook State Park. I hope someday soon, I'll be able to take my boys there. I know they'll have a blast.
That said, we have a woodsy type park near us, Castaic Lake Park. It costs $10 to get in, but there are plenty of places to BBQ and there are places to swim. It's not as wooded or as nice as Bear Brook with it's hiking and camping facilities, but does offer something similiar were I'm at now in California.
Brent and I took Andrew and Joseph there a couple years back, when Joe had just turned one. We had a nice time, but it was also anxious time since Joe had just started toddling. I think we'll go back when Joe's a mature 3 year old next year.


  1. That's a great memory Steph! My fam. never had big gatherings like that.

  2. Beautiful, Steph! I have characters who are natives of New Hampshire and may have to work Bear Brook park into the story somewhere. ;-)

  3. Thanks Guys. Loraine, I'd be tickled pink if you worked it in! hehe. Aly, if you get a chance, you and John should check it out.