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2022 Pillsbury State Park - Summer


Pillsbury State Park in New Hampshire is one of our favorite nearby get-aways. We almost always visit in the height of the summer and/or in the fall.


This year we left our summer vegetable garden tasks behind for a few days and visited Pillsbury in a season we've never been - late spring/early summer. What a verdant treat for the senses!

Our favorite campsite - just one of two on North Pond - offers views to the pond and ridgeline to the west

From the rocky shore of our campsite, there are phenomenol views of North Pond

There are a variety of campsites available at Pillsbury, including the typical car camping sites as well as sites accessed by water only. We have a favorite remote site, which can be accessed via a trail or by paddling through Mill Pond and then portaging to North Pond.

With the ongoing drought, it wasn't clear if we would be able to paddle Mill Pond, but we were successful. Once on North Pond, we saw just how low the water was due to the drought. Despite the low water levels, we were still able to paddle throughout the pond and wetland complex.

The low water levels expose the shoreline aquatic vegetation

The trees around our campsite includes white pine, hemlock, red maple

Our favorite campsite is located just thirty or so feet from the water's edge. Given that we've been going to Pillsbury for a decade or so now, arriving at this site feels a bit like coming home.

When the black flies and/or mosquitos aren't too much of a nuisance, we make good use of the picnic table. We have also occasionally brought along a small screen house for added protection.

We moved our tent to a more sheltered place in our campsite since the winds had kicked up significantly while we were there

The best part of a late spring/early summer trip to Pillsbury State Park was the opportunity to see the countless purple pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) in full bloom in the floating bog. 

Floating bogs are typically comprised of a mat of peat that floats on the open water. This unique ecosystem provides a home for rare plant species that thrive in bog habitats, including  carnivorous sundew, bladderwort, pitcher plant and even cranberry plants. 

We have spent hours in our boats, floating alongside the bog, snappng photos and reveling in the color palette of deep burgundies and greens.

Shown in this series of photos are pitcher plants, with their distinctive bulbous leaf structures and burgungy colored "flower" structures atop long, green stems, Also pictured to the left are sundews, their spiky leaves holding clusters of sticky secretion that attracts and traps flying insects.

Floating alongside the bog, the wind picks up and causes the blooms of the pitcher plants to wave to and fro

Camping and paddling at Pillsbury State Park is more restful and restorative than other trips we've done because we paddle out to our site which we've been to many times before - and then mostly stay put. This means there's more time for reading, drawing, snoozing and walking than with other trips, since we don't have to think about navigating unknown routes or finding elusive campsites.

A man and his dog

A woman and her dog

A channel flows along the western ridgeline and then meanders through the wetlands and out to the pond

The channels narrows and it nears the woods

More than one beaver dams blocks access to boats along the channel

North Pond is just over 50 acres in size and includes both rocky and marshy shorelines. A dense complex of floating bogs makes up the western part of the pond. It's possible to pick one's way through this area, eventually reaching a channel of water, which cuts a curving path through the marshy area along the ridgeline. 

The channel is a favorite place of ours to explore. Every year I feel certain a will see a moose walk out of the woods into the marsh, and every year I am disappointed in that respect. That is, until this year, when I spotted a young moose standing right in the middle of the channel some fifty feet away from where I sat in my boat. I observed the beautiful creature for several seconds before she ambled out of the water and into the forest. What a treat!

Where's the moose photo, you might wonder. I deliberately chose not to scramble to take a photo and instead concentrated on taking in the young moose with my eyes.

Nyssa stands on a beaver dam, awaiting further instructions from Glen

What a surprise to spot a luna moth (Actias luna) on the edge of our campsite

Pink lady 'slippers (Cypripedium acaule) were nearing the end of their bloom time while we were there

A spotted orange eft, the terrestrial juvenile Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is on the move on a moist foot path

There are several hiking trails throughout Pillsbury State Park, including the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail . The Five Summers Trail travels by the campsite we stay at and eventually leads to Lucias Lookout. From our campsite, it's an approximately 9-mile roundtrip hike to Lucias and includes and nearly 900' elevation change.

Most days though, we take it easier and hike along Five Summers Trail, enjoying the plants and critters along the way. The woods in that area include yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) and sweet birch (Betula lenta). We've discovered chaga mushrooms growing in some of the birch in that area.

Glen and Nyssa check out the edges of the bog, looking for photo opportunities

We paddle daily - sometimes twice a day while at North Pond. The bog is so captivating, we can never get enough of its magic.

Mary and Twyla chill out at the water's edge

The dogs are all tuckered out and are appreciating the quiet of the place

Pillsbury State Park is a place of great peacefulness, a place that offers beauty and rejuventation for the soul. It's a home away from home, and a place we hope to continue to be able to return to year after year.

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