Monday, June 30, 2014

Beautiful Day in Pillsbury State Park

This was our first time at Pillsbury State Park in Washington, located in the Monadnock Region -- it's definitely worth the trip! There are four connected ponds here, but we only explored two of them today: Butterfield and May Ponds. This place has been on my list ever since guest poster Matt Hoffman wrote about it in 2009. You can read his write-up and see some awesome pictures here. Hard to believe it's taken us five years to get there!

Beautiful summer day. We want to return in the fall.
Pillsbury State Park has a ranger's station right off Route 31. From there, it's an easy put-in to Butterfield Pond, which connects via a small channel to May Pond. There are a number of rolling hills/small mountains -- all of them at least 1900-feet tall. Don't you love the reflections in the water? We saw two loons here, but they kept their distance. It's that time of year when there may have been loon chicks around.

Just relax already! There's only one grassy area like this.
Butterfield Pond is pretty shallow and rocky, but still navigable. Sometimes we get so enthralled with the scenery that we forget to watch for rocks right below the surface. Of the two ponds, May Pond has more water and more areas to explore. Doug caught two small pickerel; And a camper we talked to said he'd caught a five-pounder earlier in the day. If you want to continue beyond May Pond to Mill Pond, you'll need to portage your boat about 1/4 mile. We didn't explore that one today, but Matt wrote about in his earlier post.

An interesting feature in the Park is the wind turbines (barely visible on the hill at right in photo left). They are part of the Lempster Wind Power Project. There are 12 turbines capable of powering up to 10,000 homes. Public Service Company of New Hampshire purchases and resells all the energy produced here.

I could write so much more about Pillsbury State Park, but I want you to get out there and explore it for yourself! Aside from four ponds, there are also walking/hiking trails, little bits of history and campsites (some only accessible by canoe). A section of the 43-mile long Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail also passes through the park.

Things to Know Before You Go: The entrance fee to the park is $4 per adult and $2 for children ages 6-11. You can rent canoes/kayaks from the ranger's station here.  Plan to bring your own food or stop at the Taste of Texas rib shack in Hillsborough; there's not much else in the area in terms of places to eat.
Nearby Historic Site:  The President Franklin Pierce Homestead in Hillsborough looks like a great historical stop. New Hampshire's only President lived here for the first 30 years of his life. We stopped in briefly to the gallery/barn/mini-museum and there was an art exhibit going on. Guides give 45-minute tours of the main house in season from Memorial Day through October. There's also a short self-guided walking tour of the Pierce neighborhood, including a family cemetery.

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