15-You Can Build It But… – Clough SP

A visit to Clough State Park was sort of like being in one of those post-Armageddon movies: everything is intact but nobody is there.  I thought this was another park closed to save the State of NH a few bucks but, according to the state’s website, I just got there one week early.  Instead of the traditional Memorial Day opening, this park is open weekends only starting mid-June.  But there’s more to the story.

First of all, how do you pronounce this park’s name?  Is it “Clow”? as in bough? “Cloh” as in though? “Claw” as in thought? “Cluff” as in tough?  I had a first-grade teacher named Mrs. Clough who pronounced it “clow” so that’s what I’ll stick with for now.

It appears that this park was given to the state courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers.  When they built the Everett flood control dam in 1963, they set aside a corner of the lakeshore to be a state park.  They built roads, picnic tables, playing fields, a beach, beachhouses, in fact everything you could ever want.  But they couldn’t bring the people, which is a shame, so now much of the infrastructure is starting to deteriorate.  Because the park was closed, my experience was less than inspiring and I was not encouraged to pay a second visit.  In spite of beautiful weather and 80-plus degree heat, there were just a few intrepid folks who, by parking at the dam instead of trying to get in at the park’s entrance, were enjoying themselves at the beach.  I walked from one end of the park (the dam) to the other and back again, meeting only a dozen or so other people.  Walking through completely empty picnic areas and parking lots was rather creepy.

The beach looks inviting

A picnic area nestled in the trees

There’s just one thing missing…

Fortunately, I’ve had a chance to revisit the state’s website which has been updated since my visit.  I’ve learned not only of it’s summer opening hours but have also gotten a new perspective on the park as a destination.  A state park intern spent the weekend following my visit exploring the park by bicycle and posted his experience online.  What I didn’t know was that the entire lakeshore, while technically not part of the park, is open for visiting, and, as he shows, a mountain bike is a great way to do it.  Now I have a reason to revisit.

One reason that the park may not get its share of visitors is because it’s rather hard to find.  I arrived from the south, which is probably the second-hardest way in.  Better signage seems to be from the northeast, and it would seem natural that this park would appeal to residents in the Concord area.  Manchester also seems close by, although they would probably follow the same signage from the south that I did.   I would not want to try to find this park coming from the west.  But persist, because this park seemingly has much to offer.  I look forward to revisiting – with my bicycle.  Happy travels!

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