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Keene, NEW HAMPSHIRE

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Family friendly with plenty to keep you busy!

I hadn’t camped here in the past 8 years, so decided it was time to revisit; it helped that it was one of the campgrounds still open after Columbus Day weekend. Although reservations are available online, I didn’t need them for closing weekend; 3 sites were occupied when I arrived, about 15 by the end of the weekend. During the peak season, I’m sure it’s a different story given it’s proximity to Concord and Manchester and the variety of activities available. 

Mostly level sites sit under towering pines and vary greatly in size. Many of the sites are separated from their neighbors by large, downed pine trees. I was in site 38 and found that the little loop to my campsite was tight to exit(I was towing a 14’ teardrop, not a big trailer) and I had to be careful to swing wide at the corner. This site backed onto an open field with a backstop for baseball/softball. It meant that I could enjoy the the sunny warmth on an otherwise cool morning. Last time I was here I stayed in site 45, a small tent/pop-up site along that same loop, but in the shade. If you are tenting and don’t mind a short walk, reserve site R1 for a raised site overlooking the pond. Sites 13-25 back up against a hill. Site 91 is near the entrance, but large and set back from the camp road, so it offers some extra seclusion. It’s across the street from the playground. I’d avoid site 93 because it is so close to the playground and the fire ring placement makes it seem like families enjoying the playground will be tempted to walk through your site. If you want to be close to the play area, site 90 or the ones on the loop behind it are better options. 

There are no hookups, but there is running water and a dump station is available. Bathhouses offer coin-operated showers; I noticed a price difference between the two of them, so went with the less expensive option! It was the final weekend of the season, so that may explain the lack of attention to cleaning and upkeep of the restrooms. Several of the stalls were lacking toilet paper and, although it was nearly empty when I arrived, the bathrooms had little bits of debris scattered on floors and around sinks. The bottom of one of the dishwashing sinks was coated with something that resembled dried coffee grounds. 

I was here with a 5-year-old the last time and she enjoyed the playgrounds both at the campground and at the Catamount Pond beach. There’s another beach in the campground itself. Numerous trails call out of exploration, around ponds and up and down hills, with geocaches to be found (if you can, download the info and maps before you get to the park to be sure you have the necessary info). The mountain biking trails are busy even on late October afternoons; some trails allow horses. Canoes and kayaks let you explore and fish. There are two archery ranges and wheelchair accessible docks for fishing. For history, check out the antique snowmobile museum and the Civilian Conservation Corp(CCC) museum. The CCC built much of the infrastructure here and elsewhere in the country. 

The camp store offer a few basics and a selection of Bear Brook attire. Cell phone coverage varies from 1-2 bars, not always 4G, on Verizon.

Beautiful Campground

This is a small campground with a beautiful pond in the middle. Staff is very friendly and helpful. Price is very reasonable. Sites have water, sewer and 30 amp electric. Had a wonderful rally ( NE Pacers).

Great Campground and Staff

Went there with our RV group (NE Pacers) for a weekend rally and had a great time. The staff was so friendly and helpful. The sites we good sized ( had water and 30amp) and the campground was very clean and well kept.

Beautiful waterfall hikes

Nice little weekend getaway. Clean bathrooms, roomy tent sites, nice staff. Fun playground and nature area for kids. Very family friendly place with beautiful hikes to Hamilton falls.

Great Family Campground

Although the tent sites are a distance from anything, the main areas of the campground are fantastic. With a full calendar of events (some free, some cost $) you will never be bored. Quiet time is quiet time which is great for families.

busy with permanent longterm campers but lovely hearing the river babble by

Tent camped here with my dog for two nights. Was sold absolutely green wood that would not burn (why do campgrounds always do this??).  First site I was given was out of view of the river, which was entire reason for visiting.  Campground owner was accommodating and found me a spot that overlooked the river (why not do that from the start?).  There is no privacy whatsoever to the sites, and sites are one on top of the other (my tent was basically uncomfortably close to neighbor's fire pit, but there was no other option for pitching elsewhere).  The nights were very loud with kids screaming and people partying.  It's a mishmash of sites too -- my tent was squished in between a permanent trailer and a weekend fifth wheeler.  But the river was magnificent and I could hear it babble by all night; very relaxing once the place quieted down.  Very close to Townsend State Forest and a beautiful hike up Bald Mountain, which looks to have really nice, spacious and quiet tent sites (already booked for next year).

Small, loud, muddy

Unfortunately, I was not a big fan of this small campground. Right from the start, upon checkin, I bought two $5 ea. bundles of wood after being assured they were "kiln dried".  The wood wouldn't catch no matter what I tried -- not even with the help of some fire starter.  The tent site itself was very small and barely fit my truck and tent.  It was made smaller still because of the mud and holes on the perimeter of the site. At night, there was a lot of traffic noise nearby and despite a posted quiet time, other campers were slamming car doors over and over and talking at the top of their lungs, making it difficult to sleep. The surrounding state forest was pretty and the trails were in decent shape.

[Ranger Review] Gregory Endo 15 Pack at Mt. Ascutney State Park

Intro:

On a whim back in August, our family decided we wanted to camp for a night and discover some new mountain biking trails. I did some research and poking around on the interwebs, and discovered Mt. Ascutney State Park in Windsor, VT. The state park had everything we were looking for: close proximity to mountain bike trails, beautiful hiking trails, available leantos, and less than two hours from our home.

Campground Review

I am going to talk about the positives first, and then lay out the few negatives at the end. Sound good? Great!

The state park is located off of a paved road, about 15 minutes from the closest interstate exit. It is situated on the side of Mt. Ascutney, a 3200+ mountain. There is actually an toll-road that goes up the mountain. The campground has two distinct loops. We stayed in the loop to the left of the entrance in one of the lean tos.  Our campsite was a prime site. It was very large, and quite private.  As a bonus, it even had direct access down a path to a large recreation field that included a volleyball net. Our children and their friends loved biking around the field and exploring it while waiting for meals, etc.  The lean to was very clean, and recently painted. It had ample room for 6, and could fit 8 as well. The lean tos come with a bench that can be used inside, or out by the fire which was a nice touch.

Our site was situated under large pine and hemlock trees, with some small deciduous trees mixed in. This kept the site shady, but rays of sunshine did break through at times.  Our lean to faced east, so we had a view of the sunrise in the morning.

The bathroom was clean, and the shower area was recently tiled with nice tilework. Outside of the bathroom there was a little library book case with books for campers to borrow. Such a fun idea!

The state park maintains its own mountain biking trail loop, which accessible directly from the campground. It is a 3 mile beginner friendly loop, with some nice rollers and moderate terrain.  Down the road  about 10 minutes at the Mt. Ascutney Outdoor Center, there is a whole network of mountain biking trails that range from novice to expert. I checked out some of the trails there, and particularly enjoyed the trails in the Mile Long Field. Beautiful switchbacks traversed an idyllic Vermont field. 

The hiking trails are also pleasant--there is a sweet little nature loop in the campground with signs identifying different trees. There are also other trails that lead to the summit of Mt. Ascutney.  We decided to drive up Mt. Ascutney to see the sunset our first night. Sunset was at 7:30. HOWEVER, the toll road also happened to close at 7:30, which we had ignored on the sign.  Well, the state park staff enforce their rules, and they came up to the top before (sadly) the sun had set to tell us we had to drive back down.  Half of our group decided to stay at the top and watch the sunset and then hike down in the dark.  It was quite the adventure--thankfully we always carry headlamps and flashlights in our car. 

It was a bit disappointing that the auto road closes before sunset, but I understand that the park needs to have rules to keep folks safe. There are 6 cabins that the state park rents out that are partially up the mountain on the auto road. Folks who rent those sites actually do have access to the summit at sunset. So if you are looking for an easy sunset experience, that would be the way to go.

Overall, our experience at the campground was fantastic.  The other campers were quiet, everything was clean, and access to local recreation was convenient.

CONS:

The road nearby is noisy. Because of its location, you can hear both the local highway and I91.  If being in the quiet wilderness is important to you, than this campground might not work out.

Gear Review

From time to time, as a Dyrt Ranger, I am given gear to test out and review.  On this camping trip, we tested out a Gregory Endo 15 3D Hydro Pack.  Gregory specifically designed this pack for mountain bikers.  We chose the one in Carbon Black.  Our first impression of the pack was that it was made out of sturdy, rugged materials, which is important for a pack that has to take the abuse of mountain biking. Our second observation was that it didn't have any external water bottle pockets the way a regular day pack would.  This of course makes sense as water bottles would easily fall out while biking.  The waist belt is unique as it can slide into a few different positions in order to change how the pack rides on your back.  The back panel is lifted away from the users back, which provides excellent ventilation. Inside the pack are sever pockets, including a removable pouch ideal for storing bike tools. My husband really appreciates that feature as it makes it much easier to find his tools on the go.  The included reservoir is easy to fill, and we like that it is also very easy to hang to dry. It seems to dry faster than the reservoirs that we have from other brands.He has also used the pack a few times on hikes, and it is comfortable for that as well. The straps are low profile, so it doesn't work for carrying super heavy stuff.

My husband says the pack is comfortable. He says it does bounce a bit while descending rougher trails, and he wished there was a way to prevent that. Overall, it does its job well, stays out of the way, and holds the gear and water that he needs when biking.  It is great that companies are starting make mountain biking specific packs.

Been here twice now.

Some of the sites are a bit too close to each other but there are some that are nice and private. Mountain biking is awesome here, can ride right off the campground and onto the trails! Will def be coming back

Quiet NE Campground

Small but well organized campground. TT members will find all th e comforts of home. Staff is pleasant and helpful. Quiet during the weekdays, picks up over weekends but not to overbearing. Sandy beach by the water has plenty of room to relax out in the sun as well as launch areas to set out in a paddle boat, canoe or row boat, all available on site. Mostly a 5th wheelers park but you can see a 34 foot class A here and there so don't fret, there is room.

We go every year and love it

Friends and I camp here every June, and we love being close to the river. We sleep in tents so the sound of the river put  you to sleep at night. Excellent campground for cooking delicious meals over the fir and sitting around the fire later. We also tube down the river. Very clean restrooms and nice staff.

One of the nicest

Chuck and Laura are wonderful hosts and always available to help. The campground is clean, quiet, with plenty of open sites as well as sites in the woods. Sites big enough for our 42’ 5th wheel and 2 cars. Sites in the woods have water and 50 amp service, no sewer. Most of the open sites have 30/50 amp service with full hook-ups. River view sites available. Canoe rental available. Clean bath houses, laundry, dump station gameroom, and camp store. One of the best in the area!

Very nice campground!

Nice campground that has a gorge trail attached to the campground! This was nice to do right before dinner. The campground has full showers and bathrooms. Also, they have a community bonfire on Saturdays with s’mores, which was nice!

Awesome, family campground!

Very family centric, 7 pools which (include 2 hot tubs, a small 2x2 pool for kiddos, 1 adult only pool and 3 family pools). We went for halloween weekend in August and their haunted house was incredible for a campground! Nicely landscaped although the roads are very narrow. Made it hard to back in our spot. Will be coming back!

low key and beautiful fall getaway

Keep in mind that this review is written after camping sept 8th (the week that school started for many) so it might not be relevant to peak camping season. We were pleasantly surprised with our weekend getaway to Clarksburg State Park. Nestled in the Berkshires and basically walking distance to Vermont, Clarksburg State Park provides a comfortable and semi-private tent site. Several spots (including ours 6) were very close to the rather large pond. While the trees obstruct the views, the site was waterfront and we were able to walk a few yards downhill to the waters edge where we launched our kayaks (there is a designated launching spot elsewhere). No electric and water hookups are provided but we were totally okay with that. Bear boxes were provided on each site so that you don’t have to keep stinky food or garbage in your car! Each site also had a fire pit with a grate so that you can cook right there on the fire. The bathrooms were some of the cleanest campground bathrooms and showers i’ve experienced (no bugs or webs also) and there was a dishwashing station on the side. The sites were large and well spaced but they had trees in between so that you felt privacy. The campground itself had plenty of sites, firewood for sale in the front and a pavilion and beach area on the day use side. There are plenty of trails you can hop on right outside your tent site and very little light pollution for optimal star gazing. We really enjoyed our time here and will definitely be back!

The Worst

Owner Ross was very rude to everyone, Pool has a scum rim around it, and there are no wooded sites

Super easy

Super easy hike, will take a few hours! A great little campground like all state parks around! I'd recommend it, downside, no dogs allowed

Great little family campground

Family oriented can ground, has a nice playground. There's a beautiful waterfront with a swimming area and boat rentals. One of our favorite things was an archery walk through the woods and a little pond for fishing! Definitely worth the stay

Fantastic little camp

My girlfriend and I went here on a thursday and stayed till Saturday, so the camp was a little more empty then normal but it was a great little place. Nice views of the lake, swimming, wide open sites, not too over crowded! I'd definitely go back! Close by to Miller state park (NHs oldest state park), Garwin falls (beautiful little water falls you can swim in)

Nice Riverside Sites

This campground has nice, quiet, shaded riverside sites and other sites options as well. Showers are $0.25 for 8 minutes. Modest camp store. Pallets of firewood are delivered to your site and reasonably priced. Nice pool. Port-a potty by the river needs to be replaced.

My favorite

Nice group camping area on Connecticut River with tent and lean to options. Ranger Eric and staff were awesome.

WOW What a view !!!

Had a great hike and lunch at top of mountain. Climbed weather tower and was an awesome experience.

Awesome

Very clean and enjoyable. We have gone here a couple times exceeding our expectations.

Great campground

High up on a hillside. The prime lean tos have great views. Sites for tents offer some set away but further from water and toilet. Other sites closer, but also closer together. Firewood available. Take a walk to the picnic pavilion which has a great view. Trail around Slack Hill has view of Ascutney. Pavilion and some shelters look over to Kiliington. CCC trail cuts through. Ash and maple woods. Clean, well kept.

Seasonal or RVs only

We made reservations to hammock camp at a site here. Received confirmation of everything and was told I didn’t need to put money down. We drove all the way from Massachusetts and arrived to find out that our reservation was canceled! The lady at the counter was nice and trying to figure out and had the owner come down who turned out to be awful. He said that he was the one that canceled it because I didn’t return his phone call and didn’t put money down. When I tried to explain to him that I talked to someone on the phone two different times about the reservation he claimed I was lying! The site was open so he gave it to us but then sold us wet wood. Got to the campsite and the couple next to us said they had to sleep on the ground because the owner wouldn’t fix the electrical box that night and wouldn’t let them move to the next site over that was free. Def a campground for RVS and seasonal people only

Restrictive

It seemed like there were a lot of restrictive rules compared to other campgrounds that made camping more stressful.

Comfortably Isolated

We went camping with a group of 5 people spread out onto two sites. We arrived after dark and our friends were able to pick up a parking pass for us ahead of time. It was easy to find the campground and our site.

Restrooms are easy to reach throughout the campground and there is a shower house near the entrance to the campground (no quarters necessary). Stores for extra food or forgotten materials can be picked up in town a 10-15 minute drive away. We enjoyed our time here and will be back!

Quiet, out of the way

This campground is easy to navigate. It’s family friendly with a large field for volleyball, badminton, etc…

Nice and relaxing. Right next to Quechee Gorge where you can hike down to the gorge and go swimming or just sit on the rocks in the sun. Very relaxing and fun!

Great staff

Overall had a wonderful experience at zoar campsite in charlemont ma. Staff was awesome, went out of their way to tAke care of our group from camping to rafting. Highly recommend the site.

Amenities are well maintained. Could use a refresh but overall great experience will be back