The Multifaceted Waters (and Wonders) of the Monadnock Region

April showers definitely brought May flowers! Although we had a bit of a late start to spring this year, summer came on quickly in New Hampshire, and many locals are finally breaking out the tents and brushing off their canoes so they can gear up for what is arguably NH’s best season! The best part about this sunny weather in the Monadnock region is the official warm-up of all of our beloved lakes and ponds, bringing myriad outdoor opportunities to locals and tourists alike.

Below is an inside glimpse of some of Southern New Hampshire’s finest places to dip your toes in the water!

View of Willard Pond, Antrim, NH at dusk from an orange canoe

Willard Pond at dusk

 A Secret Sanctuary

Tucked away off Route 123 in the center of Antrim, NH lies Willard Pond. The 1,000-acre area is the largest sanctuary that New Hampshire’s Audubon Society protects. Although the trek is quite remote, you will not be disappointed with the relaxing wilderness seclusion and beautiful scenery to boot.

View of Willard Pond, Antrim NH from boat launch and beach with canoe in foreground

Willard Pond from the boat launch

Not only is Willard Pond a popular fly-fishing and canoeing spot for Monadnock region locals, but the trails that surround the pond lead to some dazzling destinations. There are several trails in the surrounding area that include Bald Mountain, Goodue Hill, the Tudor Trail, and the Mill Pond Trail.

Bald Mountain is the most popular of the hikes; the rather steep trail results in some well-deserved, lush green views. The Tudor Trail is also well-liked for its frequent wildlife sightings, including many loons that make their way to the pond each season.

Willard is dog and kid-friendly, with toilet amenities and a boat launch for non-motorized boats. For the adventure seekers, there is a secret rope swing about half a mile from the boat launch along the Tudor trail, which makes the day trip even more fun for everyone!

Young woman canoeing on Contoocook Lake, Jaffrey, NH

Paddling on the Contoocook River

 A Versatile River

The 25-mile-long Contoocook River has plenty to offer for all skill levels, with beautiful views everywhere you look. Running from Jaffrey all the way to West Henniker, the river has everything from lazy, smooth canoeing currents in Rindge and Peterborough to Class III and IV rapids near Bennington. Rafting in the more turbulent waters can be dangerous, so it’s advised that only experienced enthusiasts take the plunge in those areas. However, fishing, swimming, and boating are fan-favorites for everyone along the calmer parts of the river.

Want to just enjoy the views? Consider packing a picnic and a couple folding chairs for a laid-back afternoon by the riverbank. There are lots of pull-offs and even parks along the way. For a fine dining experience, check out some of the exceptional local restaurants that overlook the Contoocook.

View of Otter Lake, Greenfield State Park, NH from the beach

Otter Lake in Greenfield State Park from the beach

The Perfect NH Experience

Come for the sights and stay for awhile! One of the most popular camping spots in the Monadnock region is Greenfield State Park. Be sure to pack your coolers and strap on your kayaks – this state park has everything you could ask for as an outdoorsman.

Located about five miles from the quaint town of Peterborough, Greenfield offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including a campground with around 250 sites positioned on the locally well-known Otter Lake. Otter Lake has three separate beaches – Picnic Beach, Middle Beach, and Camper’s Beach.

Picnic Beach is more for the day trippers; it comes complete with a playground, an arts-and-crafts area for kids, and plenty of picnic tables on site, making it a great lunch spot.

The Middle Beach is typically less populated, located quite a bit off the road and closer to other wetland areas, so you’ll see plenty of wildlife, including turtles, loons, bull frogs, and even the Blue Heron that hangs around on the lake! Finally, the Camper’s beach is located on the camper’s side of the state park. Guests like to spend their days lounging on the lake in a canoe or kayak; there are also pedal boats for rent if you feel so inclined.

Pet-friendly and welcoming for children, Greenfield State Park is where you want to be during the warmer seasons in New Hampshire. Families travel from all over New England to land a campsite for a long weekend. Keep your kids entertained with the endless biking areas, and explore the grounds via lots of fun trails. It’s safe to say that Greenfield State Park has something for everyone!

Calm waters of Dublin Lake, Dublin NH with a dock in foreground

Dublin Lake

One Charming Scene

One of the most picturesque lakes that NH lake has to offer – Dublin Lake (or Dublin Pond), exceeds expectations in beauty and adventure. Located on Lake Road (off Route 101), Dublin Lake has excellent sailing conditions, and sailboats can be seen speckling the waters during the warmer NH seasons. It is also a great place for swimming and sometimes fishing; big brook trout are prolific in this scenic lake. Spend a few hours or even a day; the blissful feeling you get when you relax by the peaceful water is indescribable!

That’s just a snippet of the countless idyllic bodies of water the Monadnock region has to offer. But it’s definitely enough to get your upcoming adventures started. So grab those lifejackets and picnic baskets; there’s lots to see this season!

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