Monday, August 12, 2019

Laconia: WOW Trail

The WOW (Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam) Trail is a paved rail trail from Laconia to Belmont. It is popular with walkers, skateboarders, wheelchair users, and bicyclists. No motorized vehicles are permitted.

At the Elm St. Lakeport entrance

The trail parallels a rail line.

water views along the way

view from footbridge (which connects trail to Aroma Joe's!)

picnic spots maintained along the way

Laconia passenger rail station

Getting there: Free parking at various points. See the map on the web site linked below.

No Smoking
No Alcoholic Beverages
Cost: Free
Hours: Daylight hours only. The trail does not seem to be maintained for winter use.
Pets: Dogs allowed on leash
Picnic potential: Tables at various points along the way
Rest rooms: none
Accessibility: Excellent. Gentle grades, no steps.
For more information:  maps, directions, and more at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Somersworth: Willand Pond

Willand Pond is a small pond on the Dover/Somersworth line, having a well-maintained one mile walking trail around it, along with picnic facilities and a number of fitness stations. We visited a couple days after a strong windstorm, and already a number of fallen trees had been cut through to clear the trail, or removed. The trail can be accessed from High St. in Somersworth (across from Market Basket), or Rt. 108 in Dover (across from Strafford Farms restaurant/dairy bar). This description begins at the High St. entrance.

The High St. entrance, as of this writing, is a bit hard to spot due to construction on the new state liquor store. Turn in at the traffic light in front of Market Basket - this will take you to the entrance, between the liquor store and the Monster gas station. A winding dirt road leads to the parking area.

entrance from High St.

Here is the pond, High St. on right, Rt 108 on left. The red line is the walking trail.

Rules and hours.

This area was once the site of Central Park, a "trolley park" created by the trolley company to attract weekend riders to the park. Informational panels at the parking area describe the area.

Central Park, originally known as Burgett Park, existed on Willand Pond, on the border of Dover and Somersworth. It was a popular spot that featured a bandstand and dance pavilion, an outdoor theatre, baseball diamond and a casino. One of the great attractions of this road was Burgett Park, afterwards called Central Park which contained 26 1/4 acres of hill and dale,  woodlands and plain, bounded on the westerly by Willand Pond in the early days a fleet of boats were there, where parties could row or sail about the pond or they could charter a steam launch at very little expense. The park had all the requirements of a first class picnic or excursion grounds, a large casino 50' x 150' two stories containing a large banquet hall and kitchens on the lower floor, a fine exhibition hall above for dances and entertainment. There was a 12 foot piazza on 3 sides of the casino, and open air theatre seating 1600 people,  penny arcade, flying horses, Japanese building, store, ball ground, 3 picnic grounds, lawn tennis ground, a baseball and football ground, a track for bicycle races, the grounds were lighted by electricity and furnished with seats, swings, picnic tables, ice water tanks were distributed over the grounds.
    From Robert Whitehouse's Dover History

Little remains of the park's glory days. The trolley barn at the High St. entrance is now being renovated into a state liquor store. The Bear Den remains, here Kathy poses behind it. Bear cubs were placed in the enclosure for the amusement of the patrons.

Nearby is an alcove known as the Amphitheatre, but any structures are long gone. A short way in is a picnic area overlooking the pond.

photo: City of Somersworth

The trail continues around the park. Dogs are allowed on leash. We encountered a number of dog walkers (none of their dogs were on leash), but all dogs and owners were friendly.

Great bird watching here.

Trail markers every 1/4 mile.

At the Dover end of the trail, there is additional parking and a boat ramp for non-motorized craft.


Please note there is an old article online about this park (which I shall not link to) which describes it in great disrepair, with no signage, piles of litter and frequent parties. That article is many years old. This is no longer the case. The park is well-signed and maintained, clean and safe; and you should not hesitate to visit.

Getting there: The High St. entrance, as of this writing, is a bit hard to spot due to construction on the new state liquor store. Turn in at the traffic light in front of Market Basket - this will take you to the entrance, between the liquor store and the Monster gas station. A winding dirt road leads to the parking area.

The Rt. 108 Dover entrance is across the street from Strafford Farms restaurant/dairy bar.

No Smoking
No Alcoholic Beverages
Cost: Free
Hours: 7AM-9PM (April - Sept), 7AM-7PM (Oct-March)
Pets: Dogs allowed on leash
Picnic potential: Tables about 1000 feet from High St entrance
Rest rooms: Porta-potty at High St. parking area in summer, rest rooms across street at Market Basket
Accessibility: Very good. Gentle grades, no steps, boardwalks over wet sections
For more informationFor the official description, many photos, and contact information, see this listing on the City of Somersworth's web site.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Newmarket: Schanda Park and Riverwalk

We found Schanda Park and Riverwalk by accident. This is a small park right in downtown Newmarket, on the Lamprey River. The adjacent riverwalk has two sections: a more formal flower garden walk .. but keep going, the best is yet to come ... it leads to an eclectic garden walk maintained by residents of adjacent buildings who have decorated it with bird feeders and various random furniture items to make a pleasing place to sit and watch the birds.

The formal garden pathway

The informal, eclectic pathway

Try a hammock.

A wicker chair and a table for your coffee.

The name makes my head hurt, but the feeling quickly passes once you are inside.

Coffee, books, vinyl records, pastries...

Getting there:  At the end of Water Street in Newmarket. Look for the sign in downtown Newmarket, directly across from Kennebunk Savings Bank.
Cost: Free
Hours: Open year round
Picnic potential: tables provided
Rest rooms: porta-potty on site
Coffee/restrooms (for customers, of course): Crackskull's Coffee and Books, just up the street!

Melvin Village: Abenaki Tower

Abenaki Tower is a lookout tower (formerly a fire tower) in Melvin Village (part of Tuftonboro), commanding a view of pretty much all of Lake Winnepesaukee. The short hike is always a good stretch when travelling through the area.

Look for the sign on the west side of Rt 109.

All you need to know.

A short, wooded walk brings you to the tower.

The last flight of steps is quite steep.

View from the top: Lake Winnipesaukee

Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough is clearly visible.

Getting there:  On the west side of Rt. 109 in Melvin Village (part of Tuftonboro) NH. Parking lot holds 6-8 cars. Note the entrance/exit roads are ONE WAY.
Cost: Free
Hours: Open year round
Picnic potential: no tables
Rest rooms: none on site
Coffee/restrooms: Skelly's Market, a few miles north on 109 also has convenient picnic tables on the north side (adjacent to parking lot). Note the picnic tables on the south side are reserved for their ice cream takeout.