You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge
New Hampshire

New Hampshire State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
New Hampshire
Merrimack Valley Region
Merrimack River State Forest
Cool Swim ©
Spring Hike ©
Availability Search
The Merrimack River State Forest is a captivating wilderness area that encompasses the banks of the majestic Merrimack River. This tranquil forest is a nature lover's paradise, offering an array of recreational activities and stunning natural beauty. With its diverse range of ecosystems, including lush woodlands, picturesque meadows, and serene wetlands, the forest provides a rich habitat for native flora and fauna. Visitors can explore its numerous hiking trails, indulge in bird watching or fishing along the river, and even embark on canoe or kayak adventures. The Merrimack River State Forest is a true sanctuary where one can immerse themselves in the wonders of Mother Nature and find solace in its peaceful surroundings.
History of the Area
Merrimack River State Forest is a state-owned forest located in central New Hampshire, USA. The forest covers an area of about 2,563 acres and is situated along both sides of the Merrimack River, encompassing parts of both the towns of Boscawen and Concord.

The history of Merrimack River State Forest dates back to the 1930s during the Great Depression. At that time, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program, was established as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal initiative. The CCC aimed to provide employment to young, unemployed men while also conserving and developing natural resources across the country.

The CCC played a significant role in the creation of Merrimack River State Forest. In 1933, CCC Camp No. 144 was established near the area. The members of the camp worked on various projects including constructing forest roads, trails, fire breaks, and bridges within the forest. They also planted thousands of trees to reforest the area, especially focusing on white pine and red pine species.

During World War II, Merrimack River State Forest was used as a practice bombing range by the Army Air Corps. The remnants of these activities, such as small craters and equipment foundations, can still be found within the forest.

In 1969, the state of New Hampshire acquired the land that now constitutes Merrimack River State Forest. Since then, the forest has been managed by the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, a division of the state's Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Merrimack River State Forest offers various recreational activities to visitors. It features a network of trails, including the Merrimack River Trail, which provides scenic views of the river and the surrounding forests. The forest is also popular for activities like hiking, birdwatching, fishing, hunting, and nature photography.

The history of Merrimack River State Forest showcases the impact of the CCC in the development and conservation of natural resources during the Great Depression. It has since become a valuable recreational space, providing opportunities for people to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of New Hampshire's Merrimack River region.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
Search for a vacation rental

1. Merrimack River Trail: This is a 3-mile loop trail that follows the banks of the beautiful Merrimack River, offering stunning views and opportunities for bird watching.

2. Bear Brook Loop: A moderate difficulty level hike spanning approximately 4 miles in length with varied terrain including forested areas and open fields; this trail also includes several small stream crossings.

3. Wildcat Falls Conservation Area Trails: These trails cover about two miles through dense woods leading to scenic waterfalls on Beaver Brook, providing an excellent spot for picnicking or simply enjoying nature's beauty.

4. Naticook Lake Trail: An easy-to-moderate hiking path around Naticook Lake covering roughly three miles, it offers serene lake views along its course which can be enjoyed year-round due to well maintained paths even during winter months.

5. Horse Hill Nature Preserve Trails: Covering over six miles within the preserve area these trails offer diverse landscapes from wetlands to forests making them ideal spots for wildlife viewing especially birds such as herons and hawks among others.

6. Wasserman Park Woodland Trail: Approximately one mile long, this woodland walk provides ample shade under towering pine trees while crossing multiple bridges across brooks feeding into nearby ponds.

7. Tucker Brook Town Forest Trails: With four different routes ranging between half-a-mile up till nearly two-and-half-miles each ;these provide options suitable both casual walkers looking at short strolls or more serious trekkers seeking longer hikes.

8. Grater Woods Conservation Area Hiking Paths: Offering five distinct loops varying between just over a mile upto almost three-and-half- milles each ; they traverse various habitats like marshes, hardwood stands etc attracting wide variety of fauna throughout seasons.

9. Burnt Swamp Wildlife Management Areas Walking Routes: Spread out in total close seven-and-half-miles divided amongst few separate tracks crisscrossing swamps, forests and open fields ; these are great spots for spotting deer, turkey or even moose at times.

10. Pennichuck Water Works Trails: Consisting of two separate loops each little over a mile long; they offer peaceful walks along the banks of Supply Pond with occasional sightings waterfowl like ducks etc.

11. Mine Falls Park Hiking Paths: With total trail length exceeding six miles spread across multiple routes varying in difficulty levels from easy to moderate ; this park offers everything from dense woods, river views up till dam overlooks making it popular choice amongst locals as well visitors alike.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
write a review
Share On

Area Campgrounds
Silver Lake Park Campground
389 Jamestown Road
Belmont, NH
Hillcrest Campground
78 Dover Road
Chichester, NH
Sandy Beach RV Resort
677 Clement Hill Road
Contoocook, NH
Thousand Acres Family Campground
Route 3 1079 South Main Street
Franklin, NH
Sandy Beach Campground
677 Clement Hill Road
Hopkinton, NH
Keyser Pond Campground
1739 Old Concord Road
Henniker, NH
Spacious Skies French Pond
479 Old W Hopkinton Road
Henniker, NH
Area Fishing Related Businesses
Sunset Mountain Fish & Game Club
117 West Rd
Canterbury, NH
(603) 783-0454

1. Start by heading north on I:93 N from your current location.
2. Continue on I:93 N for approximately 10 miles until you reach Exit 15E towards US-202 E/US Route 4/Loudon Road/Concord Heights.
3. Take exit 15E and merge onto US:202 E/NH Route 9 W toward Hillsborough/Penacook.
4. Follow NH Route 9 W for about half a mile and then turn left onto Sewalls Falls Road (signs for Boscawen).
5. After turning left, continue straight ahead as the road becomes East Side Drive after crossing over Interstate Bridge into Penacook Village area of Concord city limits.
6. Continue driving along East Side Drive which will take you directly through Merrimack River State Forest's main entrance gate where there is ample parking available near picnic areas or trailheads depending upon what activities interest visitors most during their visit here at any given time throughout year:round access offered within park boundaries.

state route ranger badge
New Hampshire

New Hampshire State Parks