Monday, October 13, 2008

Pawtuckaway Boulder Fields

Located in Nottingham, New Hampshire is a phenomenal and not very well known gem called Pawtuckaway State Park. I frequent the area on a regular basis during the late spring and summer months in search of its native orchids (especially Goodyera pubescense), to roam among the boulder fields, rappelling from the Lower Ledge much to the irritation of the rock climbers who feel that they have some sort of superiority over everyone else who wishes to practice the vertical arts, and I just recently located the Devil's Den heading toward the peak of North Mountain.

First of all, and I have to put this as a byline for visiting Pawtuckaway State Park, because I like to go into the less public area (which for now is free unlike the main entrance if you want to go swimming or fishing at Pawtuckaway Lake), please be aware that the road off of Reservation Road is very rough and must be driven slowly. Also, please be aware that it is quite possible that you will lose a tire just as I did shortly before I left for Washington, DC for a week. The locals and other people who feel that because they drive a four-wheel drive vehicle like to drive at a pace that can only be described as reckless, as is evidence by how rutted and torn up the road is. Drive slowly and patiently, please.

The Boulder Field is my favourite place to visit. A glacial cirque that developed as the glaciers tore down the walls of one of the few volcanic mountains in the area, and secondary growth of oak, maple and hemlock trees, the paths are winding and shady, sheltering an incredible variety of mushrooms both edible and poisonous, racing snakes, small rodents and marshland perfect for watching predatory birds, Great Blue Herons and a choir of frogs, this place is captivating, relaxing and well worth the visit.

If you are into the adventure aspect, the boulders offer some convenient and top class climbing, and the lower ledge, a massif of rock overlooking Dead Pond soars 65 feet above a pine needle floor. A trail leading off from the Boulder Field winds its way toward the sullen peak of North Mountain, where right before you start the more serious ascent, the gaping maw of the shelter cave called Devil's Den offers the hiker the opportunity to relax in the cool breath of the mountain as it escapes from somewhere in its depths.

For a map and directions, visit

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