Posts

Beaver Brook Falls – Keene, NH

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Overall Rating: 2/5
Swimming Not Allowed
Handicap Accessible – falls are on a paved road but there’s not much to see roadside

Beaver Brook Falls is an odd little place. It sits off an old paved road just outside of the central Keene area. The road is now closed to vehicular traffic, but you can still hike up to the falls and have a little adventure! I’d like to mention, if you’re like me and hunt waterfalls on-line a bit before going to see them, this is one that I’ve seen several pictures of where the area is completely clear and you can see straight to the falls from the road; pictures from both old postcards and from about ten – fifteen years ago now. The area has changed quite a bit and is not maintained as I assume it once was. You really have to try in order to see this waterfall from the roadside!

Although the main attraction here is the waterfall and trying to get down to it, there are a few other places along the way to see that would be quite nice for other ventures. Part of the brook on which the cascade can be found runs under the old road at the beginning of your walk. If we had known just how much of the waterfall we would view when we first visited this area, I think we would have stopped at this little bridge with a couple of chairs, a good book, and just sat, watched and listened to the babbling brook.
There are a couple of different rock ‘walls’ (for lack of a better term) on the left side of the road as you’re walking up to the falls, one of which features a side profile of what is supposed to be a man’s face. The profile can be viewed both walking to and from the falls. Unfortunately, at the moment I am unable to find the name or any other information online that tells you the name, however, by the entrance gate, there is a sign telling you the couple different attractions you’ll see on your walk.

 

 

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You can just barely make out the waterfall behind the trees.

 

The falls themselves are only about a 12ft drop with three small tiers, but are still a pretty cool sight from above or below (below being per pictures I’ve seen… sorry, folks, I don’t have any personally.) The falls aren’t really complicated to find; you can hear and partially see them about .55 mi up the old road. However, if you’d like to see them straight-on, you would need to scramble down a hill a little bit. It’s best to do this downstream from the falls (not right at them) and with tons of bug and tick spray. Like previously mentioned, the area is covered in tall grass and since this season’s tick population is so terribly terrible, please take precautions!

Here are some other things you might see while visiting the area:


In order to find Beaver Brook Falls, follow NH Rt 9 into Keene. Turn onto Washington St, then in .25mi turn left onto Concord Rd, then another almost immediate left onto Washington St Ext. Keep going down the road to the yellow gate; park in front of the gate and hike up the road to the falls.

Have fun and be safe!!

 

 

 

A Little Opinionated

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DOGS IN NATURAL PLACES 

Let me be the first to say, I LOVE DOGS! I love em, I love em, I love em! An example of just how much I love them? I have been known to yell ‘PUPPY!’ out a car window when I see one, which from time to time has ended up in a couple of dogs almost jumping out of their car windows, but those are stories for other times, folks! At the moment I wish I could have a dog but the place I’m currently living in doesn’t let us have them so I’m SOL there… Anyways, on to the point!

To add to that sentiment, I love seeing dogs when I go on nature walks! They’re enjoying it (usually) just as much as we are! Yet, much of the time, you’ll find owners of said pups not following rules. (Yes, I’m looking at you, owner of the giant Great Dane puppy who knocked me down a few months ago. He should have been on a leash, not that I was really complaining; like I said, I love dogs! But I digress…) As much as leave no trace should be highly respected, following the rules for your pup should be as well.

Whenever you see a ‘no dogs allowed’ sign, you should really take heed. This is not intended to say that I don’t want to see your dog there, but there’s probably a decent reason that sign is where it is… which, and I REALLY hate to say this, means I don’t want to see your dog there. Whether we enjoy it or not, many times it’s to protect the area in which you are walking. I’ve seen many a pile of poo in an area where dogs aren’t allowed, and many a dog off-leash at that. Your dog’s poo can actually have an effect on the ecosystem and the growth of an area. Fight me on this all you want, but it is your responsibility a) to pick up after your pup and b) to follow the rules.

Now, don’t come to me saying, ‘well, where the hell am I supposed to walk my dog?’  You know darn well that there are MANY places where dogs are allowed. Trust me, I have found many sites online that tell you where a dog is allowed and if it’s okay to have them on or off leash.

The main point is this, folks:

If there are signs telling you not to have your dog there, please take heed.

If there are signs asking you to have them on leashes, please take heed.
If your dog is allowed to run free somewhere and be as wild as can be, can I please come along and play?

Have fun out there and be safe!

Stonehouse Pond – Barrington, NH

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I never thought I would see something like this sitting in the middle of a town in southern NH, but it’s here and it’s got an amazing view! It’s a little steep to get up to the hill, but so well worth the climb. When you arrive at the top, you’ll see the pond below and in the distance, the Blue Hills of Strafford. And trees. Lots of trees.

While sitting atop the rocks, you can usually see duckies floating on the pond, sometimes a kayaker floating along as well. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, which helps after the steep upclimb. Unfortunately, no swimming is allowed here, but there is ‘Cartop Boat Access’, so you’re more than welcome to row, canoe or kayak the pond. The pond is managed as a ‘fly-fishing trout pond’, so fly-fishing is allowed, but only at certain dates. Please check the bulletin board when pulling into the parking lot for rules on fishing at this pond.

There are two access entries to this pond, but it really just ends up being a loop and depends on how steep you want your path up and back down to be.
The first entrance can be found at the parking area just below the pond. To the right of the bulletin board, follow the stream to the dam, where you’ll find a small branch-bridge. Cross this bridge and follow the footpath you’ll find. Unfortunately, the footpath isn’t marked so you’ll have to follow the trail as best you can. This path is very steep; please proceed with caution.
The other trail entrance is back a bit from the pond. As you’re coming down the road to the pond, you’ll find a widened area where there is room enough for four to six cars depending on how you park. On the right side of the road, there are orange markers. In the winter, this is a snowmobile trail, but you can follow it, all the same, to get to the rock face. This side of the trail is marked which, by my understanding, makes it easier to travel.

To find Stonehouse Pond, follow Route 202 into Barrington. It is located 1.9 miles from the Rt 202/Rt 9 junction in Rochester and 3 miles from the Rt 202/Rt 4 junction in Northwood. The entry is marked with a fish and game sign and can be found on the East side of the road.

Have fun and be safe!!

Mount Agamenticus – York, ME

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Overall Rating: 4/5
Fee: None
Handicap Accessible (if not hiking to summit)/ Restrooms Available

Mt. Agamenticus (known lovingly by locals as ‘Mt. Aggie’) has long been one of my favorite places, even though I’ve only been here three times. Maybe that sounds silly, yet, although it may be the mountain with the least elevation in Maine (520′), it has one of the most astounding views. From the summit, even without climbing the watchtower, you can see the ocean from Portsmouth to Ogunquit, the Sandwich Notch Mtns., the Presidential Range, and, albeit tiny, even the I-95 Piscataqua River Bridge. Supposedly, per a sign at the summit, when you’re at the top of the old watchtower, on a clear day you can see all the way to Boston and it’s skyscrapers. I could sit here daily and be happy, rain or shine.

There are several choices on how you access Mt. Aggie, whether it be hiking or mountain biking from the base or driving to the summit and parking, which is usually the most popular option. There’s a new trail around the summit called the Big A Trail. This trail is a universal access trail, which makes it handicap accessible. I walked a bit of it today, and it has even more amazing views than before the trail was created. (Okay, so there may have been awesome views along this trail before, I just didn’t know about which particular spots to go to.) I highly recommend this trail if you’re looking for a particularly easy and no stress hike. There are several other hikes as well. If you like to see the rest of the trail system, check out this link.

To find directions to the mountain, please see this link.

Have fun and be safe!!

 

A Little Opinionated

I’m going to try out a new little article on this blog: I plan to publish it once weekly and it will mostly be pertaining to opinions on the way we all conduct ourselves around natural areas. It’s not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ per say, more just my opinion on it (hence the name). I hope you all enjoy – if there’s a subject matter in which you’d like me to talk about, feel free to contact me at the contact link above or over on Facebook under the same name.

Rock cairnsROCK CAIRNS

They’re a funny sort of thing. Unless you drive by the one on Route 11 in Farmington, NH, they’re usually a small stacked rock structure, mostly flat rocks, one on top of another. According to history (and possibly purists), these are not true cairns. Original cairns have a Scottish origin and were to mark a burial ground, used for ceremonial purposes or to mark a landmark. In more modern making, depending on where you’re located, they’re either still used to mark a landmark or to symbolize peace – somewhat of a far cry from its origin when you think about it.

To some extent, depending on where you find them, these cairns are actually meant to keep you on trails. In the Presidential Range (NH), some of these cairns mark where your path runs and helps to direct winter hikers when they’re unable to see the true footpath. On top of Bauneg Beg ~ North Peak (ME), there were once bunches of these – yes, some made for fun, but originals were there to mark the top of the peak. After a recent visit, it’s been found that vandals have gone and toppled the rocks down. These rocks are important for hiker safety, and it should be common sense that you don’t go and knock them over.

It’s quite obvious when you hunt other sites that probably 75% of people dislike seeing rock cairns anywhere in nature that you can tell have been modernly made. From a few people, I’ve read that it ‘shows that people have been here’, and while I get the main point, there’s so much more that detracts from an area to say that people have been there than rock cairns, but I guess that’s beside the point and for a different post.  I understand the dislike, and for most people posting on websites, these are rarely the people at fault for vandalizing historic cairns. But there are idiots who feel like rock cairns, not matter how historic, no matter when made, no matter if they’re serving a purpose, have to come down. Please, just leave rock cairns alone! If it’s meant to be there, it’ll withstand weather conditions and stay there for as long as nature chooses. If not, like the ones above, they’ll be dismantled on their own.

Though rock cairns are sweet, nice, and usually bring a peaceful side out of most people, in most national public land areas, it’s illegal to build them. And while I thoroughly love seeing them from time to time (shh! Don’t tell the rangers I said that!), it’s asked that you do not build them. I know, I know, it takes away from some of the fun of summer hikes and adventures to the river or mountain… Yet, it’s better to stay away from getting a fine or going to jail, just keep that in mind.

Have fun out there and be safe!!

Pickering Pond – Rochester, NH

 

Overall Rating: 3/5
Swimming Not Allowed (Not really suggested, either…)
Handicap Accessible

Pickering Ponds is an odd but lovely little place for a quiet walk. It’s nicely tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Rochester, albeit in a slightly unnatural setting at one point (on one end of the pond, you’ll find the water treatment plant). There are a couple different trails here; one which loops around the main pond area and another which loops down to a walk along the Cocheco River for a bit, then back to the main trail.

For the most part, this is a pretty easy hike; there’s barely any elevation, including walking down and back up the hill to get to the river. The trail isn’t really marked, per say, but it’s easy to tell where the paths are and which direction you’re supposed to go. Even if you take a little side trail, it all ends up looping back together at some point. This is great for a day when you need to get your exercise in, but don’t want to over-exert yourself!

One of my favorite things about Pickering Ponds is to go midday when the sun is pretty high in the sky and it reflects and glows off of the pond. I don’t know if many other people love this like I do, but I find myself taking pictures like that quite often.  I don’t know what it is about that setting, but it makes my soul happy.

Besides the walk down to the river, the trail is pretty handicap and wheelchair accessible. That part might even be too, but I’ll leave that up to you who wish to venture.

To find Pickering Ponds, take Pickering Rd into Rochester. The parking area is across from 612 Pickering Rd. The parking area leaves about two spots abutting the gate and room enough for about four more cars down the drive.

Have fun and be safe!!

{Edit: I did a little bit more research on this area after drafting this post; when these photos were originally taken, we had visited in November 2016. As many across the country know (I may be assuming that, but I remember hearing it a lot on the national news), New England had a pretty terrible drought last year, and we’re just barely coming out of it now. As you can tell from one of the photos, the pond level was low around the edges and the dirt underneath was bone dry. However, I just want to point out that this is most definitely not the way you’d normally find this area and I don’t want it deterring anyone. As per pictures I have seen, this pond is usually much fuller, especially around snow melt and spring run off season, if not year round. I hope you still find yourself visiting here and enjoying yourself, despite how low the water looks in these photos. Have a good time out there!}

Bug Light Park (and the Supermoon) – South Portland, ME

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One of my favorite parks in/around the city of Portland is Bug Light. It’s not much: a small little lighthouse, a giant field, benches to sit by the ocean and relax, along with a giant boat structure. Not much, but it’s quite a lovely place.

Last November, we visited this park to see the supermoon. Dad wanted to take pictures somewhere that had a view but didn’t want to do the usual Portland Head Light; this ended up being where I came up with.  It took quite a while; we were there about an hour and a half before the moon finally rose above the horizon.

The pictures taken on my phone are not the greatest quality, but I like how the last one above came out. It was a great place to go for the Supermoon, especially with the dock in the foreground, but there’s a few more things to enjoy here.

IMG_5263The large boat structure found in the park is the Liberty Ship Memorial. During WWII, the park was the site of major shipbuilding of Liberty Ships and the structure serves as a memorial to the heritage of the park.

There’s a few little places to enjoy the view and for kids to run and play. As previously mentioned, there’s a huge field where lots of dogs can be found playing as well as kids. Following the trail down the other side of the park, you’ll find a few more grassy spots. It would be a lovely place to take a picnic lunch and relax by the ocean. It’s also a great spot to shoot the sunset over Portland.

Last but not least, is the little lighthouse the park is named after. Technically it’s named Portland Breakwater Light, but it was deemed ‘Bug Light’ because of the size. This lighthouse was built in 1875, and used up until 1943 when it was decommissioned. When visiting the park, you’re able to walk along the breakwater and around the lighthouse.

All in all this is a pretty cool place! It’s fun to visit and enjoy at anytime. This is one place I can’t really give you directions to, but if you’re using GPS, ’55 Bug Light Park’ is the closest address to use; this will bring you to the building across from the park.

Have fun and be safe!!