Picnicking, as well as swimming and boating in 803-acre Lake Pawtuckaway, are favorite activities enjoyed in the park. Pawtuckaway's 5,500 acres offer a variety of opportunities for hiking and mountain biking, as well. Trails wind through an oak and hemlock forest on what used to be pasture land bounded by stone walls. A hike to South Peak leads through a large boulder field with some rocks as tall as thirty feet. An extensive wetland in the park provides great opportunities for viewing wildlife such as beavers, great blue herons, turtles, waterfowl and a variety of song birds. A lucky visitor may even catch a glimpse of a deer or moose.
This park is always open for recreation unless otherwise posted. During off hours and the off-season the park is typically not staffed, comfort stations are not available and gates may be closed. Due to the popularity of Pawtuckaway State Park's beach area on nice weekends and holidays, the beach will most likely sell-out in the morning hours. Once the beach area reaches capacity additional beach goers cannot be admitted due to safety concerns. Hiker's, boaters and fisherman will still be allowed into the park.
The off-season poses unique risks inherent when participating in outdoor recreational activities. Please be aware that many State Park areas and trails are not staffed during the off-season, and day-use fees are not collected. Recreationists should possess the necessary knowledge, skill, and equipment to ensure their own safety. Users assume all risk while recreating in State Park lands.
Acreage: 5,063 acres
Waterfront: Lake Pawtuckaway
Number of Campsites: 195 sites
Pets: Pets are not permitted in the park
Location: 40 Pawtuckaway Rd., (Off NH Route 156) Nottingham
From Hwy 101, the park isn't too difficult to find. Roads are generally well-maintained and can be traversed even by large RVs. Be aware that the snow does fall here in the winter, though, and extra care should be taken when road conditions are poor. Just take your time and go at your own speed - remember, you're on vacation.
The camping area at Pawtuckaway is open from mid-May through Columbus Day in mid-October. Hiking, mountain biking, boating, swimming and fishing are popular pastimes of campers. Each of the nearly 200 campsites has an open fireplace, picnic table, flat area for a tent, and a parking space. All sites are wooded and many provide views of the lake. Although there are no hookups, recreational vehicles are welcome in sites where they fit. Running water, flush toilet facilities, a camp store, boat launch, and canoe and paddle boat rentals are available. Coin-operated showers are accessible 24 hours a day. Except for the RV Park located at Hampton Beach, Pawtuckaway provides the closest state park camping area to the seacoast. Only twenty minutes to the coastal beaches to the east and twenty minutes to Manchester to the west, Pawtuckaway Campground in Nottingham is well located for easy access to a variety of attractions and activities. The campground has 10 sites that are kept available for those campers that prefer camping on a first come-first serve basis.
Pawtuckaway offers a great location for group outings. A large pavilion, separate from the day-use area, has a large stone fireplace, electricity, barbecue pit, horseshoe area and a ball field.
The camping area for organized youth groups is located on the shore of beautiful Pawtuckaway Lake. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing, swimming and canoeing at this heavily wooded, 5,500-acre park. Adirondack shelters, a large group pavilion with a stone fireplace and toilet facilities, a large lawn area for games and other activities, and a canoe launch are available in the group camping area. A camp store, canoe and paddle boat rentals and an 800-foot beach are available in the park.
The big attraction at this park is the lake, and there's good reason for that. The large sandy beach on the shore of the lake is a popular place with local families during the summer. Once the schools close for the summer, you may have some trouble finding a spot. But if you do, you'll be rewarded with clean, calm water that offers the perfect spot to refresh yourself after an active day in the park.
The swimming area of the lake is cordoned up with a rope. The rest of the lake is an ideal place to explore by boat. Whether you're looking to fish or just cruise along the water ways, a relaxing time is guaranteed. And if you don't have a boat of you're own, you're in luck. The park rents kayaks, canoes and paddleboards in the summer season. They even offer kayaks for kids so you can get the little ones into the sport.
The rocky coves and shoreline of the lake provide for a range of great angling spots in Pawtuckaway State Park. Whether you choose to fish from the shore or a boat, chances are good that you'll hook something.Crappie, bass, pumpkinseed and pickerel all frequent these waters. Remember to obtain a fishing license before you set out. These can be purchased online or at the park store.
For a stunning view along with something of a workout, you can hike the two and a half mile trail to the summit of South Mountain. The 908-foot climb may leave you breathless, but your reward is a vista over the whole park.
Alternatively, the Fundy Trail leads along a productive marsh. Try to see this trail either in the early morning or the evening, when the resident herons, beavers and deer are most active.
For something different, a hike through the Boulder Field brings you up close and personal with glacial erratic boulders. You could be forgiven for thinking you're walking on the surface of another planet!
The trails of Pawtuckaway State Park offer a challenge for two-wheelers. A 21 mile trail with plenty of elevation gains and losses starts at Mountain Road and winds through much of the park. Some tight turns and thrilling hills await those keen to pedal their way though the park.
Flocks of turkeys wander through the campground at will. Raccoons forage along the banks of streams. Great Blue Herons stand motionless on the shores of isolated lakes, while snapping turtles lurk in the murky depths. And, this being New Hampshire, there's always the possibility of encountering a majestic moose. Pawtuckaway State Park abounds in wildlife, and with some patience and a good set of binoculars or a telephoto lens, you could see some of these charismatic animals for yourself. But remember not to feed the animals, no matter how cute they are.