The early-autumn warm days and cool nights of September, coupled with the bursting colors of new fall foliage, combine for ideal hiking, recreational and camping conditions at our New Hampshire State Parks. The Granite State has 93 state park properties that boast amazing waterways, campgrounds, historic sites, miles of trails, natural vistas, and many acres of forest lands.
One such gem in the Monadnock Region is Greenfield State Park, a natural treasure worthy of a visit. Whether you’re looking for a day trip excursion to hike and swim, a fishing hole to paddle by canoe or kayak, or a longer stay in its camping facilities, this park is not-to-be-missed.
Greenfield State Park is a 400-acre park property in southwestern New Hampshire that entices visitors with its ponds, bogs, and lush forest extending throughout. It’s also home to the crystal-clear waters of Otter Lake. Inside the park, walking paths lead to the sights and sounds of abundant scenery and solitude.
Visitors wishing to enjoy a dip at the Otter Lake beach should make reservations prior to arrival as parking is limited, especially during weekends and holidays, although walk-in spaces are available on a first come, first-served basis. Beach parking reservations are accepted up to 30 days prior to arrival.
This park is open continuously for recreation unless otherwise posted, although it is not staffed during off-hours and the off-season and rest areas may not be available. Gates can be closed at times, as well. New Hampshire officials stress that those accessing the parks during the off-season should possess the necessary abilities and equipment to ensure their own safety as they assume all risk while enjoying the state’s park lands.
Admission to Greenfield State Park is nominal–$4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11, and free for ages 5 and under and state residents ages 65 and over, with season passes available. Iron Ranger, a self-serve pay station located at the bottom of the office stairs, can be used for payment when unstaffed. Although leashed pets are welcome in the campground, they are prohibited in the day-use and beach areas. You can view the New Hampshire State Parks Pets Policy for more information about pet-friendly parks.
For a lovely hike, the Hogback Trail is a 1-2 mile trek and it is relatively flat with a self-guided trail map that outlines special points of interest along the way. This family-friendly outing traverses around Hogback Pond and averages only about 45 minutes start to finish.
As the guide states, “Hogback Pond is a glacial kettle pond formed when massive chunks of ice were buried in the sand, then slowly melted leaving a huge depression in the landscape that eventually filled with water. Kettle ponds generally have no streams running into them or out of them, resulting in a still body of water. Water in the pond is replenished by rain and is acidic, prohibiting many common wetland species from flourishing.”
This quiet area of park land is home to wildlife and unique plants, and there are numbered stations that correspond to the trail map, as well as welcome benches for taking a break or enjoying a snack or picnic. Hikers are encouraged to “Leave No Trace” on their hike, which means they should carry in and carry out any trash, leaving only footprints.
Greenfield State Park has an amazing number of campsites, boasting 256 locations available by reservation only. Some of these include family group campsites that feature two Adirondack shelters and can accommodate up to 10 family members or friends at a time. Although there are no hook-ups, RVs are welcome in the sites where they can fit.
Sometimes a camping trip starts to feel a little soggy from an unexpected rainy day, night, or longer stretch. If you’re in need of a dry bed and a hot shower, there are a few local options for a comfy crash.
Peterborough’s Jack Daniels Motor Inn sits alongside the Contoocook River with 17 spacious guest rooms on two floors. It has multiple accessible rooms, pet-friendly rooms, and a complimentary continental breakfast.
Nearby in Hancock, the historic Hancock Inn is the oldest continuously operating inn in New Hampshire, dating back to 1789. Its 14 unique rooms boast period-appropriate furnishings and private baths with modern amenities and its tavern serves seasonal fare by reservation.
Renovated to include modern amenities, another option for a night’s respite in Peterborough is the Little River Bed and Breakfast, an 1870s farmhouse on the Nubanusit River. This cozy B&B offers rustic décor, common areas with a wood-burning fireplace, and a sunroom.
Over in Jaffrey, the Benjamin Prescott Inn is an historic farmhouse built in 1853 with 10 guest rooms and suites that offer private baths, modern amenities and unique decor. It has a magnificent close-up view of Mount Monadnock.
You can find additional lodging options on our “Stay” page. Wherever you decide to spend your autumn visit, we hope you delight in the beauty and festive atmosphere of fall here in our special corner of New Hampshire.
Editor’s note: Blog was written by a guest writer, photos were obtained from MTC’s files, except the Greenfield State Park photos that are credited to Scott Higgins; and the blog was formatted and posted by Susan Karalekas.