pawtuckaway state park things to do

Pawtuckaway State Park: Things to Do, Maps, Fees, Weather & More

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Just north of Highway 101 in Nottingham, NH, Pawtuckaway State Park is a great nature hideaway that is known for great camping, hiking, beachgoing and boating.  Situated against Pawtuckaway Lake, the park attracts visitors who enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities.  Though most popular in the warmer months, we have enjoyed Pawtuckaway State Park in all seasons of the year, from the most crowded summer months to colorful and cool fall days, from wintertime snowshoeing to springtime hiking.

pawtuckaway state park what to see and do

Pawtuckaway State Park contains nearly 5000 acres and hosts just over 1 million visitors annually.

Since there is plenty to see and do in Pawtuckaway, we put together this guide to help you get the most out of your visit to the park. We’ll include a bit about camping, cover the hiking trails that we love as well as what else there is to do in the park!

THINGS TO DO IN PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK

pawtuckaway state park map

Pawtuckaway State Park map, courtesy of New Hampshire State Parks

Whether you plan on visiting for an afternoon, a full day or spend a week camping, you are sure to find something for everyone at Pawtuckaway State Park.  Most of what you do in the park can be done without a ton of prior planning, but we do recommend arriving early, especially if you are coming on the weekend in the summer.

When visiting Pawtuckaway State Park, our recommendations for what to do include:

Swimming

Spending time on the beach and swimming in the park is a great way to spend an afternoon.  The beach faces to the west, so the sun will be strongest in the afternoon.  There is shade in the area if you choose.  The beach facilities are great, as it has a playground and a newly built restroom building.  If you do plan on visiting, we highly recommend getting reservations for the beach / day-use area.  You can get reservations 30 days in advance: Pawtuckaway State Park Day Use Reservations

pawtuckaway state park what to see and do

Boating

Pawtuckaway Lake is nearly 800 acres that was created by two dams.  Boating on the lake is popular, but the lake does have glacier boulders hidden under the surface of the water, so be careful and watch your speed.  The boat launch is located at Fundy Cove at the end of Fundy Road on the north side of the lake. 

Kayaking and Paddling

Exploring around the lake by paddling is a ton of fun as there are islands, coves and interesting landmarks to explore.  You can launch your kayak at Fundy Cove to the north or at Neals Cove from inside the park.  It’s also possible to launch from many of the campsites at the park.  Be advised that the land on the east side of the lake is private, so landing a kayak on that side isn’t allowed.  You can also rent kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards at Neals Cove.
pawtuckaway state park things to do

Hiking

Pawtuckaway State Park has a large network of trails.  You can start on one trail and find your way to a few viewpoints.  This allows you to make a hike as long or as short as you want!  Some of our favorite trails in the park include:

  • South Mountain Lookout Trail (moderate, 4.6-miles (round-trip), 820 ft. elevation gain)). This trail leads to a fire tower on South Mountain with great views!
  • North and South Mountain Loop (moderate, 6.1-miles (round-trip), 1300 ft. elevation gain)). This trail leads to a fire tower on South Mountain and also combined North Mountain.
  • North Mountain Loop Trail (moderate, 5.0-miles (round-trip), 860 ft. elevation gain)). This trail features views from the top of North Mountain.
  • Round Pond Trail to South Ridge (moderate, 4.5-miles (round-trip), 790 ft. elevation gain)). This trail gets you to the fire tower on South Ridge but starts from Round Pond.

For more details, check out our blog on the Hiking in Pawtuckaway State Park.

HOW TO GET TO PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK AND OTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION

Pawtuckaway State Park is relatively easy to get to.  You’ll likely find that getting on Highway 101 is the best way, but be advised that this highway can be pretty busy during rush hour.

pawtuckaway state park things to do

ENTRANCE FEES AND REQUIRED PASSES FOR PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK

A day-use pass is required, which costs around $5 per person, with discounts given for children.  Seniors are free.  You can pay when you get to the park, but a reservation is recommended if you plan on hiking or heading to the beach in the summer.  You can get Pawtuckaway State Park hiking reservations 30 days in advance, as well as Pawtuckaway State Park Day Use Reservations 30 days in advance.

 

pawtuckaway state park things to do

PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK CAMPING

There is one campground at Pawtuckaway State Park, and it’s large.  Here you’ll find sites for RV’s, cabins, tents and even remote sites.  Be sure to get reservations well in advance!  Many sites have access to water, which allows you to launch a canoe or kayak right from your site!

You can find out more in our blog on camping in Pawtuckaway State Park.

pawtuckaway state park things to do

    pawtuckaway state park things to do

    BEST TIME TO VISIT PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK

    Pawtuckaway State Park is open all year round.  However, summertime is the most popular so you can take advantage of hiking when the trails are relatively dry as well as enjoy time on the water.  The park can be busy and crowded in the summer.  Fall is perhaps the “best” time to visit (in our opinion) as it is less crowded during the week, the colors are “popping” and bugs are kept at bay so you can just enjoy the outdoors.  Be advised that springtime can be pretty muddy and the black flies are out, but the park is quiet this time of year too!

    VISITING PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK IN THE WINTER

    The park is open year-round, but facilities are very limited once the colder months come.  The park is mainly open from early April through mid-October.  Camping is primitive until May, but facilities may be open through October should the weather stay warm as it has been in more recent years.

    Winter is a great time to visit and hike in particular. Trails are lightly traveled, and it’s not rare to hike here and only see a few others on cold winter days.  Be prepared and bring plenty of cold weather gear, food and foot traction and/or snowshoes to enable easier travel on the hiking trails.

    pawtuckaway state park things to do

    ARE PETS ALLOWED IN PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK?  

    Pets are allowed year-round on the hiking trails, provided they are leashed.  During the summertime season (May 1 through September 30), pets are not allowed in the campground or on the beach.  Outside of these dates, pets are allowed on leashes.

    pawtuckaway state park things to do

    RELATED INFORMATION ON PAWTUCKAWAY STATE PARK AND THE SURROUNDING AREA FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

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    About Just Go Travel Studios

    We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

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