Dense deciduous forests, evergreen groves, and dozens of ponds and wetlands make up the landscape of one of New Hampshire's lesser-known parks. Pillsbury State Park may very well be the state's best-kept secret, and those looking for a primitive camping experience to reconnect with nature will feel like they've struck gold when they bring the RV here to camp.
Over 7,000 acres of diverse ecosystems in this southern New Hampshire park provide habitats for an assortment of animals, like moose and loons, and anglers can hope to reel in a largemouth bass or brook trout from one of the many ponds sprinkled throughout the park. Visitors to this serene park also enjoy hiking and biking along dozens of trails, with access to the 51-mile Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway. Kayaking, snowshoeing, and picnicking are also popular amongst guests, and history buffs can enjoy exploring the long-forgotten mill sites and cellar holes that date back to the early 1800s.
Although camping here is remote with a capital R, guests will find 14 RV and trailer friendly sites available amidst unspoiled nature at the foothills of the White Mountains. The campground offers all the basic necessities for camping, including pit toilets and potable water. If a hefty dose of mother nature is what the doctor ordered, then point the rig toward Pillsbury State Park and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the great outdoors.
Located off of Route 31 just outside of Washington, New Hampshire, Pillsbury State Park is easily accessible for vehicles of any size. Just under an hour from Concord in the foothills of the White Mountains, this park affords the sense of being immersed in nature without being too far from the outside world. A paved, single-lane road surrounded by thick forests will lead you into the park. Once you've reached your destination, you should have no problem navigating to your campsite, as roads are paved and no sharp turns are present. Those maneuvering large rigs should beware of low hanging branches while driving the park road. Although the park remains open for recreation year-round, the campground closes mid-October until mid-May and is unstaffed during the off-season. If you're interested in snow sports, you won't have to pay the daily park fees, but you will assume all risk while on state park lands. Snow may cause road closures, so if you plan on visiting during the winter months, be sure to check local weather and road conditions before heading out.
Those looking for a primitive RV camping experience will love Pillsbury State Park's campground. Fourteen sites are available for small rigs under 38 feet from the end of May until the end of October. Although no hookups are offered, water, pit toilets, a playground, canoe rentals, and firewood are all available on site. Each site is also equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If all the sites are spoken for at Pillsbury State Park, or if you need a longer list of amenities, there are several alternative options in the surrounding area. Mount Sunapee State Park is a short 20-minute trek from the park and offers similar facilities to those at Pillsbury State Park. Those looking for hookups can head to Monadnock State Park an hour south. Here, campers will find electric hookups at 35 RV friendly sites.
For those interested in leaving the pop-up for a night or two, Pillsbury State Park offers 21 primitive sites for tent campers. Of these, 11 are remote sites that require guests to either hike or boat in. All sites are outfitted with picnic tables and a fire ring. If you're looking to reconnect with mother nature, reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
With the amount of water present at Pillsbury State Park, its no wonder that boating is a favorite activity for visitors. The four main ponds enjoyed by paddlers include May Pond, Butterfield Pond, Mill Pond, and North Pond. Exploring the park via boat will not only give you a unique vantage point, but you'll also be able to get up close and personal to the famed loons that like to float around the water. If you didn't bring your own water vessel along with your motorhome, kayak and canoe rentals are available. There are even a few primitive campsites that are only accessible by boat if you're up for a night or two of camping in the backcountry.
If you prefer to take the trails at a fast pace, attach the bikes to the Class A and prepare for a bumpy ride. With six trails available for mountain biking, you can explore the park without a windshield to impede your view. There are a variety of loops that range in length and difficulty, so bikers of any skill level can find a trail that suits them best. For a moderate ride, check out the Mad Road Trail. This shaded trail is perfect for the warm summer months and is surrounded by stunning greenery and thickly wooded forests. If you're out for a longer ride, there are many connector trails that allow you to extend your trip for hours.
If you're an avid angler, you won't want to be without your pole when you park the Airstream at Pillsbury State Park. Numerous ponds dot the landscape, making warm water fishing extremely popular with visitors. Brook trout, largemouth bass, brown bullhead, and chain pickerel are all common catches. You can cast out from shore, or drop a line from the middle of the water via boat. If you didn't tow your own boat, kayak and canoe rentals are available on site.
It's not just loons that enjoy Pillsbury State Park. If you're lucky, you might also catch sight of moose, bears, turkeys, beavers, or otters during your RV vacation. Birders also enjoy this New Hampshire park, and sightings of warblers, black-capped chickadees, blue herons, and broad-winged hawks are common. Tread lightly along one of the hiking trails or paddle quietly around one of the ponds for your best chance at viewing some of the park's full-time residents.
One of the best ways to enjoy the park is on foot, so lace up the hiking boots and leave the Sprinter back at camp. Numerous trails carve their way through the wilderness of Pillsbury State Park, and you could easily spend a whole day exploring the forested landscape. Part of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail cuts its way through the park. This 48-mile route connects Mount Monadnock in the south to Mount Sunapee in the north. The trail is most easily accessed by foot via Bear Pond Trail near Mill Pond. A brisk fall walk is especially pleasing, as you'll be surrounded by the vibrant colors of fall foliage in full swing.
Just because the dog days of summer are over doesn't mean the park goes into hibernation mode. Once the snow sticks, the trails transform into a winter wonderland for snowshoers, cross country skiers, and snowmobilers. Paths made for hiking and biking during the summer double as snowshoeing and cross country skiing routes during the winter. Pillsbury State Park is perfect for those looking for intermediate to advanced trails. You'll cross frozen ponds and treck through scenic forests with mountain views. Snowmobilers can also take advantage of groomed trails in and around the park. Be prepared with plenty of layers and extra water for your snow day in the park.