Bear Sites: Exploring Bear Brook State Park

By Dan Mathers

As the largest developed state park in New Hampshire, Bear Brook offers visitors a wide range of activities, including hiking, biking, camping, boating, fishing, swimming, and even archery. It’s one park that is sure to make every member of the family happy.


Bear Brook offers cabins that sleep up to six people.

Located in Allenstown, in New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley, Bear Brook features more than 10,000 acres of woods, hills, ponds, and marshes. It has a network of more than 40 miles of trails, making it easy to create loop hikes and mountain-bike rides of any length and difficulty. The trails are well maintained and easy to follow. While the park lacks mountains, its hills feature scenic outlooks, forests, and wetlands.

Mountain bike trails in Bear Brook range from easy to challenging.

With so many family-friendly activities to choose from, Bear Brook is a great place to spend a weekend or a week, and the park offers campsites and cabins. Beaver Pond Campground has more than 100 pet-friendly campsites, plus a camp store, coin-operated showers, and ice.

Tent camping is available along the shores of Beaver Pond.

Visitors can also choose to rent one of the park’s eight furnished cabins (no pets). Six of the cabins can sleep up to six people, while the remaining two sleep a maximum of four. The cabins have no electricity. The cabins provide easy access to the park’s Hall Mountain trail network, plus a swimming beach, paddling, and fishing on Bear Hill Pond.

The swimming beach at Bear Hill Pond is popular on hot summer days.

The park’s more than 50 trails are popular among hikers and mountain bikers. The system includes dirt roads, double track, and single track. The Bear Brook Trail and Cascade Trail lead through woods and past cascading streams. The steep Catamount Trail climbs 791-foot Catamount Hill and provides scenic views from its ledges. It makes for a challenging ride best suited for advanced riders. An easier ride for beginners is Podunk Road.

Fall is a wonderful time to explore Bear Brook State Park.

Bear Brook comprises several ponds that are great for fishing and paddling. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at both Beaver and Catamount Ponds. The park also features two archery ranges. One is a 15-target range, while the other is a four-target practice range. Visitors should bring their own archery equipment.

Bear Brook State Park also offers two archery ranges.