This park was developed in the 1930’s by the CCC and still retains much of that old-time feel that often makes those parks so charming. You’ll experience their handiwork as soon as you enter the park office. There’s a large cozy fireplace (I’d love to see that fired up one cold winter’s night) with a large stone shaped like the state of New Hampshire embedded in it. Yup, the Granite State in granite.
More traces of the CCC remain, too, especially in the extensive stonework involved with channeling Moose Brook into several water features, and in particular the swimming pool. In fact, the park service has worked hard to maintain the beauty and craftsmanship from nearly 80 years ago.
The CCC had also developed a perimeter loop road through the woods and, remarkably, much of the stonework (bridges, culverts, etc.) remains. You’ll notice that every time you cross a stream, no matter how small, stones have been carefully laid to prevent washouts and to allow safe, unobstructed passage.
For many years this park was known mostly as a staging campground for hikes into the Presidentials, and especially for Mt. Washington. But over the last few years the park has teamed up with a local mountain biking club, who have developed (and are still developing) a large network of trails, thus making the park a destination in itself. Now, in addition to the CCC “Perimeter Trail”, there are over 25 other trails, numbered, signposted, and just waiting to be explored. For the time being, these trails aren’t widely publicized so if you visit you can still enjoy them in relative seclusion.
I didn’t bring my bike the day I visited so will have to save that for another time. I did follow the trail listed on the biodiversity website to the “rich mesic forest” found at the farthest uphill point of the park. It was an enjoyable hike in spite of the weather, and I made it a loop by returning via the CCC perimeter trail.
All in all, this park is heading in the right direction, finding new ways for people to use and enjoy it, while still preserving its unique heritage. It’s a model for what the parks can be and I commend the park administration for their vision and recommend it to you to pay it a visit. Happy travels!