Saturday, July 12, 2008

Paddling Turkey Ponds

(Click on photo to see more photos on smugmug.com.)
Well, we never quite get the early morning thing right when it comes to kayaking. We got up at 5 a.m. to head to Concord and two connected ponds: Great Turkey Pond and Little Turkey Pond. The trouble is we didn't actually get out on the water until 6:45 a.m. -- a little late to catch early morning wildlife activity. Wildlife or not, these two ponds are awesome!

Based on information in the Appalachian Mountain Club book, Quiet Water: New Hampshire and Vermont, we chose to take exit 2 off I-89, head south about one mile and just past a small bridge, take the dirt road on the right. Let me say that this road would be extremely difficult without 4-wheel drive and/or a truck. There are some good-sized rocks here. An alternative might be to park on the side of the road and carry your boat in (maybe 3/10 mile?)

Well after getting the pickup truck stuck on a rock and gunning it in 4-wheel drive, we were there! These ponds offer a good amount of water (about 339 acres) and many different areas to explore. We paddled up the western shore of Great Turkey Pond and passed underneath I-89 to continue paddling to Little Turkey Pond. Heading back, we paddled more to the center with occasional stops to investigate the eastern shore.

There is barely any development at all -- we saw two houses and what looked to be an unoccupied kids' camp -- and that was it. The only distraction you have to contend with is the road noise when you're near I-89, but before long, that fades into the distance.

The Turkey Ponds are really picturesque. There's open and wooded shoreline, tree-covered islands and some interesting granite boulders. We spotted a great blue heron (okay, that counts as wildlife!) and also enjoyed the many fragrant waterlilies. I could have spent hours getting lost in the pond's beautiful reflections and all the shades of green from the shoreline alone. Take my word for it...if you can manage the rocky put-in, the Turkey Ponds are definitely worth it.

Things to Know Before You Go: Motorboats are allowed, although we only encountered a few small fishing boats with trolling motors. We also saw some water skiing channels, but no sign of skiers this early in the day. The AMC book says there's a wonderful hiking and biking path that circles the ponds. Unfortunately,we didn't have time to explore those today.

Directions: Take I-89 to exit 2; head one mile south on Clinton Street (Route 13). Shortly after crossing a small bridge over Turee Pond, look for an unmarked dirt road to the right. The AMC book describes two other access points, one off exit 3 and Stickney Hill Road (has a steep carry-in) and the other is on the north end of the pond off Routes 9/202. Consult a NH atlas for more specifics.

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