This is perhaps one of my most favorite sites. Located on the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, Jigger Johnson is one of those great sites that has close proximity to plenty of hiking, exploring, swimming and isn't too far from the hustle and bustle of North Conway. I really enjoyed the sites here, and the showers weren't bad for a government owned campground. The sites are decently sized, we fit three good size tents on ours.
Blackberry Crossing Campground is a first-come, first-served White Mountain National Forest campground just west of Conway, NH on the Kancamagus Highway. It’s an old CCC base from the 1930s and there’s evidence of it’s former life all around, with chimneys and foundations in the center of the main loop. It’s small, with only 26 sites. The small loop to the right runs parallel to the Kanc, so you’ll get more highway noise there. There are some walk-in tent sites toward the back of the campground. It has been a very wet spring with a lot of rain and snowmelt and this open, walk-in area showed the effects. The tent sites are spaced around the perimeter, at the edge of the woods, but they’re in an open field. The middle of the field was very wet, but the tent sites themselves were elevated and dry.
I was in site 12A, next to the hand pump for water. Vault toilets were a campsite away. There is a small stream running behind the campsite and trillium were starting to bloom. Like most WMNF campgrounds, the sites are large and generally level. Site 12, next door to mine, is probably least attractive, because it has a large slab covering most of the site and it’s right next to the vault toilet. This campground is smaller than the nearby Covered Bridge Campground (also WMNF), so there are fewer people to make noise. The campground host was friendly and available, offering to delivery firewood ($7) to my site for me.
Prices have gone up from what the website states; it’s now $25/night. If you have a second vehicle, you’ll pay an additional $5. If you want a shower, you’ll need to hope that Passaconaway Campground is open for the season and be prepared with quarters (it wasn’t this weekend in mid-May, but Franconia Notch State Park is if you’re in that area). Bring cash to pay.
If you’re looking to get out and explore, the Champney Falls trailhead for the hike to Mt. Chocura is a few miles west of the campground, but get there early to beat the crowds. Other fun, family friendly areas to explore include the Lower Gorge, Rocky Gorge, Sabbaday Falls, and Potash & Hedgehog Mountains. I was out driving early and encountered a young moose crossing the road. Consider stopping at the Ranger Station at the beginning of the Kanc (from either end) to pick up a parking pass so you don’t have to pay the iron ranger at each spot if you’ll be driving around a lot. If it’s summer and you need to cool off, there are many places to go tubing on the Saco River.
If you’ve forgotten anything or need to fill the car up before you drive across the scenic Kanc, you’ll find it in Conway, just a few miles north of the junction of the Kanc and 16.
Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones
As a Ranger for the Dyrt, it’s my privilege to test different gear and provide a review. My AfterShokz Trekz Air bone conduction headphones arrived and I was anxious to check them out. Let’s just say, I’m in love. Like any partner, there’s a lot of good along with a few negatives that I’m willing to overlook. The Trekz Air have been my constant companion for the past month. Right out of the box, I turned them on, paired them with my phone with ease, and was listening to my audiobook in a minute or two. Also in the box was a smooth, zippered, waterproof storage pocket that held the USB charging cord and some foam earplugs in a plastic holder. It’s large enough that I could easily store a portable battery pack in the pouch, too.
The packaging doesn’t contain clear instructions about how the headphones are supposed to fit, but there are online videos that I watched just to be sure I was wearing them correctly. The headphones slide over the ears and are held in place with a light tension from the speaker/microphone units just in front of the ears; the band in back doesn’t touch my head. After a couple of days, I didn’t feel the slight pressure behind the ears. I sometimes forget I’m wearing them if I’ve turned them off. I love not having something IN my ears, especially when I’m listening for extended periods! I wear glasses most of the time and found there was no problem fitting them over my glasses. Friends with longer hair had a little extra challenge putting them on.
The fit is comfortable and secure. I tried shaking my head all around and these didn’t budge. What a great difference from some other in-the-ear wireless earphones that I’ve used that fall out or transmit extraneous sound. For the past month they’ve joined me for my daily commute on foot, bus, and subway; while working on projects around the house and yard, setting up my campsite, and hiking up and down mountains, and biking around the campground. Occasionally the loop behind my head bounces off a pack, but a light touch puts it back in place. It didn’t interfere with a bike helmet. I loved that I could put my phone down and listen to music, books, or podcasts as long as I stayed within about 30’ of the phone before it started cutting out. That meant I could set up my campsite without having to worry about dropping my phone, etc. The button on the left side lets me stop and start the playback with a touch; buttons on the right let me adjust volume or turn it on or off. Turn it on and it announces the battery level.
These are great for times when you are hiking alone, want to enjoy the sounds around you, but would like some additional entertainment or inspiration. My trail this weekend included rumbling brooks, beautiful waterfalls, and fellow hikers…and I could enjoy all of them. They are not great when riding on the old, noisy subway in Boston unless you use the foam earplugs to block external sound. If you turn the volume up too high, you’ll start to feel a slight vibration on your cheek from the headphones. Battery life is substantial, reaching a full charge in a few hours and lasting for at least 8 hours of playback in my experience. And I would love a color other than black for the storage pouch. Finding a black pouch in a black-lined bag is a nightmare! (And no, it doesn’t need to be orange.) Thrilled with these comfortable headphones!
Pillsbury State Park is a great place to get away from it all. There are great hikes that you can get to right from your campsite, connecting to the Monadnock-Sunapee greenway(a 48 mile trail connecting two of NHs beautiful mountains). The park also has great little ponds for exploring by kayak or canoe. Don’t expect major accommodations at the park, there are spots for campers but smaller ones, and there are a few outhouses but no bathhouse.
This place is a gem. It closes after the first snowfall of the year and will not re open untill it all thaws. But head here in the fall to see the beautiful colors. Outhouse toilet no running water but there are wells to get fresh water. Hiking all over around here.
Lots of family oriented activities. Fire truck ride, flashlight candy scavenger hunt, etc.
Things appear to be clean and well maintained. 50amp didn't seem to work at my site but 30amp was fine.
The mini-golf is in bad shape.
The camp store is well stocked but pricey, even for a convenience store.
The sites are very close together with very little trees or anything to break it up. You are right on top of your neighbors.
This was my first visit to the campground. The staff and everyone was friendly. I stayed in the woods and it was great being out in nature. I went in 2018 and this year I am being my sister and nieces. Love the Segway tour and the adventure zip lining and the coaster it’s a fun place and I can’t wait to return.
Best for families, HUGE campground.
Beach is beautiful and long on White Lake. Lots of trails to walk on and explore. Playgrounds and a little store to grab snacks and whatever you may have forgotten.
Sites are kinda close together, but overall were clean. Would come back here again for sure! Close to Conway and right off rte 16.
First come first serve off the Kancamagus Highway on the Lincoln side. Pick your site and pay (cash or check) using the envelopes provided.
Stayed here before we hiked the Hancocks. Had to find the caretaker, but he was friendly.
Sites were clean, we went off season so we had the whole place to ourselves. Would go again!
The Camp Penacook Shelter is a nice stopping point on a moderately difficult hike up to the peak of Mt. Chocorua. As you head up the Piper Trail, as you're nearing the 3 mile mark, it starts to get steep and mostly stone steps. Luckily, right as you begin to tire, the branch for the Spur Trail appears! A little bit down this trail, and boom, you can see the Camp Penacook shelter tucked away in a little clearing with a vista.
This is a 3-sided shelter with a fairly low roof. You could fit one larger tent or two smaller tents, but I highly suggest sleeping in the open air! When I stayed here, there were 7 of us, and we comfortably laid side by side with our packs tucked against the back wall. The roof peaks in the middle, and it was nice to have the extra space in front of the shelter that is still covered by the roof (it was a little drizzly the morning we left). There is a fire pit with a grill rack, but I highly recommend a personal camp stove for reliability.
Back towards the main piper trail is a brook where you can pump water if you have a filter. It can be hard to determine where the bank is if there's still snow on the ground, so be careful! But the proximity of the stream was very convenient. Also nearby the shelter is a pit toilet. There's a social trail down to the toilet which is kind of tough to spot, so make sure you find it in the daylight! And bring your own TP.
The Camp Penacook Shelter is a first-come, first-serve deal, so get there first! It's not really out of the way, so drop your big packs off in the shelter to mark your spot, and then finish the hike to the top with just your water bottle (and camera!). The mile and a half to the summit is scrambles up some slick rock, which can still be icy in spots in the spring. It was very helpful that I removed my pack to do this! The views from the summit are breathtaking, and with a place to sleep not far below, you can stay at the summit as long as you want. This shelter has many amenities for being stuck on the side of a mountain, and I highly recommend making the trip with some friends.
Ranger Review: Grub Sticks at Monadnock State Park
Campground Review: It’s been a rainy, drizzly spring in New England and this weekend was no exception, but I had reservations for Gilson Pond campground at Monadnock State Park, so I headed out. I’ve hiked Mt Monadnock several times), but had never camped here before. It’s a newer campground, opened in 2010. Before I left I received a call notifying me that there was a problem with the water system, so there would be no running water during my stay. So much for a warm shower after a muddy hike up the mountain! Upon arrival they provided me with a gallon of water and a bundle of firewood to compensate.
The campsites are large and wooded; I had a better view of the campsite across the road than the ones next door. The bathrooms/showers are centrally located, but there are pit toilets distributed throughout the campground. The pit toilets are clean and, this early in the season at least, odorless, with waterless hand cleanser available. Because of the water outage, I didn’t get to see the interior of the bathrooms, but they do have a large dishwashing area with coin-operated hot water.
I had a standard site (A13) with ample space for my teardrop camper and a 12x12 canopy; I could easily have pitched a large tent as well. When choosing a site, note that the tent only sites often have small parking areas with 1-2 platforms and are not suitable for an RV/trailer. Only 7 sites are suitable for a trailer/RV, 4 of them with electric hookups (add $10 to the site rate), but none with water. There are 5 remote sites, but I only made it to 2 of them (R1 & R2). The trails were quite wet. R2 is nice, near a small waterfall.
There’s a long approach to Mt. Monadnock that leaves from the campground (Birchtoff), with shorter trails leaving from the State Park headquarters 2 miles down the road. Because of the puddles and muck I encountered when trying to find the remote sites, I decided against hiking the Birchtoff trail for my Saturday afternoon ascent and drove to the Headquarters entrance instead, where my camping pass covered the entrance fee. Pond trail run around Gilson Pond. There is a large playground for kids <12 and a wide open day use area for picnicking. It would be a great place to run around and play games.
If you want a treat after your hike, head into Jaffrey for homemade ice cream at Kimball Farm.
Grub Stick Review:
As a Ranger for the Dyrt I sometimes get to review equipment. On this trip I was testing Grub Sticks Deluxe and Intro kits. My current camping gear includes an assortment of hot dog sticks and skewers, so I was interested in checking out these sets that give you solid handles with interchangeable heads. Here’s how I used them:
1. Forks: chicken jalapeno sausage and vegetables
2. Burgcage: hamburger (I pre-mixed the ground beef with hot salsa)
a. S’waffles: I made gingerbread waffles at home for a twist on this; also tried waffles with cinnamon
b. S’mores: standard recipe
c. Silver clouds: peppermint patty and marshmallow inside crescent rolls
d. Nutella and strawberry inside crescent rolls
4. Grubtube: biscuit dough- filled with chocolate pudding; crescent rolls – rolled in cinnamon sugar before and after cooking; filled with chocolate pudding
5. Grubpocket & bacon clip – fail
The telescoping handles are sturdy and substantial, with a rubbery grip that feels comfortable in your hand. I liked being able to adjust the length and it still felt sturdy; a groove in the extension keeps them from rotating. In addition to the handles and heads, the kits include a carrying bag (drawstring for the intro kit; zippered for the deluxe) and a tool for opening the cages. The deluxe version also contained silicone trivet and fingertip protector, plus a bacon clip (more on that later).
Forks: straightforward, it’s great to have 2 spikes at the end of the stick. It enabled me to cook 2 of the sausages at once and to spike slices of vegetables across both. The sausage cooked quickly and evenly.
Burgcage: also straightforward; the cage closes securely and it’s easy to open while hot with the special tool they include.
Grubcage: Besides shape, the difference between this and the Burgcage is the depth, making it better suited to cooking something thicker/multi-layered like the s’mores and s’waffles. I tried the gingerbread s’waffles the first day and found it held everything securely in place; my biggest challenge was patiently holding it far enough from the coals that it would melt the chocolate and marshmallow and not burn the waffles. It was good! I tried the s’mores the next day and found this a little harder to manage. I used fun-sized chocolate bars, so when I flipped it, one of the bars was not held securely by marshmallows and fell against the cage. I’d love to try these with the new chocolate filled marshmallows that are out, but I couldn’t find any in time! Using a hazelnuet spread would be an alternative.
Be sure to fill the full depth of the Grubcage to make sure your pieces stay together. I tried these with slices of vegetables as well, but they have to be very large to not fall through the gaps between the wires. Some of the suggested recipes with larger vegetables wrapped in bacon, etc. might be a better choice.
Grubtube: Ever make doughboys as a youth camper, wrapping dough around a stick? This takes those to a new level. Wrap the dough around the tube and it slides off effortlessly when cooked. I contemplated mixing dough, but ended up using refrigerated biscuits the first time and crescent rolls the second time. The trick is to ensure the seams are sealed. Two crescent rolls are a perfect fit around the tube. One time I rolled it in cinnamon sugar before and the second time after I cooked it. Rolling it in the cinnamon sugar before cooking it makes a nice glaze. It reminded me of a treat I’d had in Romania a couple of years ago where the dough is spiraled around a larger tube and then roasted, sometimes dipped in cinnamon sugar or coconut. I opened it at the seam afterwards and spooned chocolate pudding into it, making a pudding boat. It was easier than spooning it into the tube as I did the night before with the biscuit dough. I could see filling these with taco meat, string cheeze, or pizza filling, etc.
Grubpocket: I watched the videos showing how to make a bacon pocket, but try as I might, this was a fail. First piece of advice is not to use thick bacon! The bacon clip won’t fit around it. I found the clip very hard to operate; I couldn’t open it far enough and long enough to easily slide it down over the bacon. I was thinking about this and I would have liked a nesting cage (think the two sides of the Burgcage nested) instead, so I could weave bacon in it, holding the bacon in place. I didn’t try this again with dough to form a cup. The downside of making the cups is that you either need to fill it with something cold or heat the filling separately. I think I’d rather have an extra Grubtube rather than a Grubpocket.
I’m a simple camp cook and expect I’ll use the Burgcage, Forks, and Grubtube most often. You need to upgrade to at least the Deluxe kit to get the Grubtube. These are a higher quality than your standard hot dog/marshmallow sticks, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if they’re worth the extra cost and if you’re interested in the windows they open for some more creative meal options. They fill a fun niche, but I wouldn’t call them a need.
This is a small campground. Some are first come first serve sites. A couple are walk in. Most are right along the loop and have easy access. Small campers and tents are best here. There are pit toilets around the loop. There are showers at the bathhouse at the beach. There is two pavilions for rent. There is a small pond with beach area where you can swim or boat in non motorized boats. There a trail around the pond. Fishing is also allowed here. Very nice clean park.
I stayed at Hancock campground in mid April this year. Great clean accessible bathrooms, beautiful grounds and large campgrounds. Leashed dogs are allowed. There are both walk-in and drive up tent sites. The walk-in sites are directly next to the beautiful Pemi River. Great overall would return again.
Ayers lake campground in New Hampshire is a well kept secret. Small and family owned and operated, this campground offers some of the greatest vistas of a small New Hampshire pond we have seen.
Amenities such as camp fire wood are available but if you really need anything, you can hop over to Rochester, NH in a heartbeat.
Few (if any) organized activities, this is a quiet, family campground which is perfect for reflection. That is why we keep going back.
Nice campsite downstairs and then flat. Plenty of room. Used it for daughter to teach me field hockey. In sept. Got a little cold at night but had plenty to cover up with. Make sure have some dry wood & fire starter help to keep that fire going for s’mores, but we still did some. Only if don’t mind very minimal outhouse type bathroom. Only 1 night while we went to Highland games at loon mountain practically next door the next day. Ate at Chinese food place up the street and went shopping too.
We are -campground owners and get one or two opportunities to escape our campground during the summer for 1 or 2 nights. We always choose to go camping. We love the white mountains and often choose Lost River! We choose the furthest site out next to the river. It's great to be in nature, next to the flow of the river, enjoying a nap or a morning cup of coffee. Lost river is very popular but we escape during the week so things are less hectic, which we prefer. The owners are great and always open to swapping -campground owner stories. We recommend this place to all of our friends.
Awesome owners with a small campground! Swimming pond and pool. Small Playground. Pull through, back in, tent sites.. we go here every memorial day for their 1 set of awning to awning sites with our camping buddies!
Pit toilets (always clean)No hookups.
Cute little campground with many sites right on the river. My family has stayed here twice. You can't really swim much in the river, but the kids had a blast playing in it and fishing for little trout.
I haven't stayed here, but I checked it out on Columbus Day weekend because it's one of the few campgrounds open year-round (plowed, unlike Lafayette Place, which is walk-in) in the White Mountains. Most of the reviews talk about the walk-in tent sites, but there's more to this campground that is located along the Kancamagus Highway just before the Lincoln Woods Visitors' Center.
If you're a tent camper and don't mind carrying your gear downhill to a site, drive straight ahead to a parking lot. A few of the sites (3 & 4) are accessible from the far end of the parking lot, but for most of them you'll head down the steps in the middle with sites in two levels branching out on each side. Sites are large, but close together and although you're in the woods, there's not much to separate you from your neighbors. Even sites 10-20 are directly on the water.
Sites 22-55 are suitable for RVs and tents. Those on the back side of the loop are close enough that you can hear the Pemi River running below. A few of the sites are pull-through. There are no hook-ups, but water available via spigots and flush toilets are available - except in winter. I'd recommend sites on the back side of the loop to provide some more distance from traffic noise. I chatted briefly with a host who remarked that sites on the western end of the loop have some cell phone coverage, unlike the rest of the campground.
If you stay here, you're only a few miles from Lincoln where you can pick up any necessary supplies. This end of the Kanc your nearest hiking options are Lincoln Woods and Greeley Pond for family friendly trails, or Lincoln Woods to head into the Pemi wilderness, including peaks in the Pemi loop and Owl's Head. The Hancocks are via a trail at the hairpin on the Kanc. Franconia Notch and its many hiking trails and the multi-use trail are a short drive away.
Bring cash or a check to pay your camping fee in the iron ranger. Fees cover the first vehicle; a second vehicle is an additional $5.
Love the facilities. Clean, well maintained, private bathrooms/showers. Store is best I have ever seen. Well stocked with everything you could need. Stayed in cabin and tented, as well. Only negative is that there transient RV sites seem crowded, and many are out in open area. I prefer trees, but this wont keep us away from trying out RV sites this year.