Head north out of Greenville on the east side of Moosehead lake and shortly before you reach Kokadjo, turn right and follow the road along the edge of First Roach Pond. Near the far end of the lake you’ll come upon a small campground with a number of named waterfront sites on the left and a grassy hillside area with additional spots. I drove past this place several times en route to ponds where I could kayak and look for moose before I finally decided to stop in. I couldn’t find much of anything online and that’s because they are old school, taking reservations by phone and tracking them on wirebound notepads. These are no frills sites; most of the outhouses are on the other side of the road from the waterfront sites and not necessarily nearby. Some of the sites occupy rises above the lake while others are right down on the water. There is a gravelly beach area. If you like to fish or boat or look for wildlife, you've come to the right area. Grab your Maine atlas and explore the back road and ponds. Book a moose tour out of Greenville if you want some help finding the moose. There are some small peaks in the area (Greenville promotes a Peak Pursuit). Kokadjo has a small trading post and restaurant, but you'll want to pick up most of your supplies in Greenville. Remember to bring water.
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.
This small, private campground just outside Grafton Notch State Park offers clean, level, quiet sites with hot showers. If you don’t need wi-fi and hook-ups, this is the place for you! Seasonal decorations and solar lights decorate and brighten the paths. A small field near the bath house offers benches and horsehoes. A river runs behind the first several sites on the right side of the loop road. There’s a dump station available. It’s a great spot to stay if you are looking to hit the trail and want an early start.
I stayed here in site 4 a few years ago during my quest for the New England 4000-footers and stopped by recently to check it out again.
Hiking opportunities abound in the area, including the notorious Mahoosuc Notch stretch of the Appalachian Trail or family friendlier Table Rock as well as Crocker, Baldpate, and the Grafton Loop. At the right time of year, you may have a chance to chat with through hikers. Splash in the pools at Screw Auger Falls or Step Preserve falls on a hot summer day. Look for moose and other wildlife at dusk or dawn. This is a true retreat.
I stayed here for the first time in August last year, but returned in October this year to enjoy the autumn colors. This is a lovely state park on a large lake, offering drive-in sites with and without water/electric hookups plus a number of primitive boat-in sites around the lake. In 2019 the bathhouse was renovated, delaying the season opening, but it was worth the weight. Bathrooms are clean and bright, offering hot showers ($) and laundry.
Site fill up on weekends, especially prime lakefront sites. You can choose something more open and grassy or a wooded site. There's a swimming area and boat rentals. The office has limited hours. If you arrive after 5 or 6 (depending on the day/month), you'll need to check in in the morning and won't be able to buy firewood on site.
Off site, it's a short drive to Grafton Notch State Park (ME) for hiking and waterfalls, a little farther to Bethel, ME for canoeing, biking, and other outdoor activities. The Umbabog National Wildlife Refuge also offers hiking and boating opportunities with moose, loons, eagles, and beavers, to name a few.
It was bitterly cold overnight (24-27 degrees), so I was grateful for my trailer, but it made for some beautiful, if foggy, mornings and brilliantly clear skies for stargazing. If a tent or trailer isn't your chohice, there are cabins available, too.
Lonesome Lake hut is one of three AMC huts open year-round. During peak season, your rate includes dinner, breakfast, a bunk with 3 wool blankets. Meals are served family style; if you have food restrictions, let them know when you make your reservation. There's running water in the sinks (peak season) and composting toilets. Bunkrooms are smaller here than at other huts; you'll be sharing a room with 3-6 others and most of the bunks are only two high rather than the triple deckers you'll see elsewhere. During the off-season, a caretaker may start a fire, but you're on your own for meals and bedding. Sit on the deck or down by the lake and enjoy the views, maybe some wildlike. If you're not an AMC member, join and you'll get a discount on the rate while also supporting their work.
It's about 1.6 miles and 1000' elevation gain from Lafayette Place trailhead, making it a family-friendly destination. NOTE: parking at the trailhead is at a premium and you may need to park at the hiker shuttle at Cannon Mountain. If that's the case, drop off the majority of your crew so that only 1 person has to pay the shuttle fee.
In winter the trail is so frequently travelled that you may not need snowshoes, but I would definitely recommend spikes to minimize the risk of sliding on ice. Your reward is a beautiful view (on a clear day) across the notch to Franconia Ridge. The Kinsman Ridge towers over you to the west. If you're bagging 4000-footers, it's great to hike up here in the evening one day and then head up to the ridge for the Kinsmans and Cannon the next, to make it just a little easier.
I discovered this small family-run campground while driving to another one and my curiosity was piqued, so I had to check it out. After a friendly welcome, I was allowed to explore. They offer wooded campsites, some of them along a a brook and others near a pond; There's no boating or swimming in the private pond because of steep sides, but it's stocked and license-free fishing is possible for trout and catfish. The brook runs into the Pemi river. There is also a swimming hole, but I didn't get a chance to explore that.
The 31 sites vary in size, but are reasonably level, no hookups. A clean, bright bathhouse provides toilets and coin-operated showers; a dumpstation is also available for RVs.
The office is also a store with minimal supplies and firewood. Let them know when you plan to arrive and call if you'll be late to hold your site. They're open full-time Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then weekends only through Columbus Day.
I was looking for a campground near the Suncook Valley Rotary ballooon festival in August and the fact that the Lazy River was just a short drive away and offered a river for tubing and swimming, too, made this my choice. I really wanted to love this place (I've been on a quest for a campground with tubing this summer), but the downsides keep me from giving it 4 stars.
Folks will tell you that a bathroom makes or breaks a campground and, here, the bathrooms hurt. One of the 3 bathhouses was out of order with a sign directing you to the one in the playground field. That one was clean, but there were no latches on any of the doors on the women's side. To get a shower, you have to journey over to the seasonal loop, which may be a bit of a walk depending on your campsite location. Once there, there's no guarantee a shower will work. The first day I found a shower that worked (coin operated), but the next day none of the 3 seemed to be working (one with an error on the meter, others wouldn't turn). Another camper was there and she couldn't get anything to work, either. Ventilation isn't great in that bathroom, so the ceiling is a bit mildewy. It does have a nice long counter with sinks.
Camp roads would benefit from grading, but they're navigable.
If you're on the river, you may hear some traffic noise from 28 on the other side of the Suncook River. It didn't bother me, but I can sleep through anything!
Some of the seasonal sites look cluttered.
Would be nice if you could make reservations online, but had no problem getting through on the phone.
All in all, great place to hang out on the water, whether the river or the pool, but would be even better with bathroom improvements.
Campground review: Camping at Boston Harbor Islands requires some planning, but you get the benefit of a remote island with minimal company. Unless you book one of the 12 yurts on Peddocks island, the camping is rustic; you’ll need to bring everything, including water. Reservations open 6 months in advance and sites fill quickly, so plan ahead if you’re counting on a particulate day. I only visited the campsites on Peddocks Island, so I can’t speak to the ones on Lovell, Grape, and Bumpkin.
Getting there: Unless you have your own boat(check regulations on the website; you’ll need to anchor offshore overnight), you’ll want to catch a ride on the ferries to the Boston Harbor Islands. Figuring out the schedule is the trickiest part, not least because they don’t make the inter-island ferry schedule as readily accessible. Here’s the scoop:
The yurts on Peddocks are great, providing shelter from the elements, bunks with mattresses, electricity, a ceiling fan, table with benches, and a grill. There are 6 yurts up a small hill, with a composting toilet and water from a tap nearby. The 6 tent sites are also in this area. An additional 6 yurt sites are below the hill and in the woods, so it’s a slightly longer walk to the toilet. at the top of another hill there is an open, grassy area, also with a composting toilet, that provides group campsited.
While you’re out on the islands, take time to explore one of the others…look for sea glass on Spectacle Island and climb the hill for a view of the Boston skyline, explore the old forts and visitors centers, earn a Junior Ranger badge from the National Park Service, fly a kite, or go for a swim or kayak. In mid-August we collected handfuls of blackberries as we explored Peddocks.
Ranger Product Review: Banner& Oak Traveler Shirt
As a Ranger with the Dyrt, I sometimes get to test items; in this case I ordered the Banner& Oak Traveler long-sleeve t-shirt in indigo. It’s long sleeved and super soft, but the first time I went to put it on, I realized the Banner& Oak tag along the hemline was sewn through both the front and back, so I couldn’t put t on until I removed the tag. I didn’t have scissors with me, so it was tough to get it off and ultimately I ended up with a hole in both the front and back. I’ve worn this on strolls through the woods when the weather was nice, but cool and on the foggy morning ferry ride to the island. The sleeves are not constricting and when I pushed them up to my elbows, they stayed in place while I hiked. I will say that it is a unisex t-shirt and the sleeves and body of the shirt tend to run long. I like that, but if you're petite, it may be annoying.
I was in Presque Isle for the annual Crown of Maine balloon festival and for future reference I wanted to check out area campgrounds. If you’re heading into town from the south, you’ll see the campground before you see the sign which is tucked in among the trees. Check in at the back door of the house.
Sites occupy a large field with woods to the right and farmland to the left. Sites are grassy and open and can accommodate both tents and very large RVs. It is by the main road, so you will hear road traffic. If you are in a tent and dependent upon facilities, there is a small bathroom with toilets and shower. They are cramped and dated; there's a small porch on the front and the paint is peeling.
Westward Shores is an expansive resort located on Ossipee Lake. It caters primarily to seasonal campers and those with RVs, but can accommodate tenters as well. There are a couple of camping cabins starting at $70/night shoulder season and cottages that sleep 8-20 (at significantly higher prices).
The campground is so large that many people get around on golf carts. There are ongoing renovations and new areas, so it still looks a little rough around the edges in places. Lots are large and level with pea gravel and hookups; if you are in a tent, you’ll want to be sure to have adequate padding for sleeping. Additionally, you’ll want one of the more basic campsites located near a bathroom. Some of the loops do not yet have facilities (Aug 2019). The bathrooms are basic and clean.
The primary appeal is the location on beautiful Ossipee Lake with beaches, a marina, and kayak and SUP rentals. There is plenty to entertain the children, with playgrounds, bounce pillows, gaga pit, basketball, and tennis to name just a few. Kids were everywhere on their bicycles.
They didn’t offer up prices when we stopped at the office, so I was dreading the worst, but when I checked online, the RV sites range from $50-56 with hookups, picnic table, and fire ring and there are special rates/deals for extended stays. These rates are a significantly lower than a nearby resort campground that starts at $65/night… but then I discovered this is only true during the shoulder season. My fears have been realized… peak season will set you back $87-95/ night and the camping cabin is $117. These are slightly more expensive than a nearby resort that offers a few more/ different amenities, albeit not on Ossipee Lake.
My ongoing quest for a high quality riverfront campground that offers tubing continues, but I have found a great option here on the Pemi River. To think, I can't believe I waited this long to investigate the campground behind the sign I've passed on the highway for decades! They only had a last minute cancellation for a full service pull through, but it was more than i wanted to spend for the weekend. Even so, I stopped by and decided after looking around that this will be on my future list. I'll know to plan well in advance!
There are a variety of sites available, including tent sites without hookups, water/electric sites, to full hookups and pull-throughs. They even offer cabins if that's your preference. The riverfront water/electric site are beautiful, though those with the lower numbers are closer to I-93, which may be a consideration if road noise bothers you. The opposite end is near the beach. The seasonal sites are neat and clean. Bathrooms are spotless. If you stay for a week, you'll get the 7th night free.
Amenities include a terrific playground in a large, grassy area, plus volleyball and horseshoes. Wi-fi is available. There's a well-equipped store, firewood for sale, and canoe/kayak/tube rentals with a free shuttle included. They'll take you up the river and leave you to float or paddle back to the campground on your own time. If you bring your own boat, there's a reasonable $5 shuttle fee.
This is an 8-site city-owned/operated campground best suited for self-contained RVs because the bathrooms are in a different area of the park. Call the Fire Department to make reservations, though on a summer weekend there were still vacancies. Sites are open and grassy with picnic tables and fire pits. There's an additional small parking lot nearby. There are steps down to a picnic area and boat launch on the St John River.
Riverside Park also serves as the eastern terminus of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, running 740 miles between Fort Kent, ME and Old Forge, NH. On land there are miles of walking and ski trails. Fort Kent is home to an original blockhouse from the 1830s-40s Aroostock war over the border of Maine.
I was looking for a riverfront campground where I might be able to do some tubing, so I stopped by here to check it out. I had called the day before, but didn't get an answer, so I made reservations elsewhere, but they let me take a look around.
The good: they have a wide sandy beach and volleyball nets along the river. It's also just a short distance from a covered bridge with additional sandy beach and boat access. The river was slow and low in early August, but in early May they have the Baker River Regatta with some quickwater. There's an assortment of grassy and sandy sites, with and without hookups. There is a dumping station.
Areas for improvement: I almost turned around and walked right back out because the first part of the campground is seasonal and there are trailers there that look like they've been in place since the campground opened in the 60s. Seasonal sites can run the gamut from neat and well kept to dumpy…these were dumpy. The bathrooms were in sad shape…there was little to no toilet paper, toilets unflushed (it was early afternoon, usually the cleanest time of the day), and signs warned not to mess with the faucets or they'd take them out, etc. You don't want to linger there! They're also the reason for the 1* review. The showers are in a separate building, coin operated, no frills. If you're in a self-contained unit, this may be a decent place to stay on a sunny summer weekend. Some of the sites were neat, but others were littered with downed branches.
Campground Review: Beech Hill Cabins and Campground
I’ve camped at many of the campgrounds in the Twin Mountain, NH area and wanted to try a new spot. Beech Hill Campground did not disappoint with its large wooded campsite and numerous campground amenities at a fair price. You have to call to make reservations and can’t see the sites, but there aren’t many sites I wouldn’t want (3& 4 are small sites just across from a street light; a few others had slopes or a lot of roots). I was along Blueberry Lane, one of the roads on either side of the power line and all the sports areas(basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, shuffleboard) with some park benches and a view of Mt Washington). You may borrow equipment at the store.
The sites are often narrower at the road (but still wide enough to make backing a trailerRV in easy) and then open up to a spacious site. There’s enough low growth under the trees that although you are aware of your neighbors, you’re not on top of each other. I was there on an early August weekend and the campground was not close to full. It was quiet and folks were friendly. There are a large number of seasonal sites in areas separate from the rest of the campers that are generally well maintained and neat. They also have some cabins and a park unit (see their photos on the website as I didn’t get to see the insides). Full hookups including cable will run $50/night.
Laundry, bathrooms with showers, and a dishwashing sink are in a building near the entrance. Bathrooms are clean, if worn. They’ve been recently painted; the caulking/edges show their age more. Other amenities include an indoor heated pool, outdoor chess and checkers, a game room with air hockey, pool, and arcade games, and an outdoor playground. Saturday evenings there may be ice cream sundaes for a small fee; check their calendar for special events.
The store is well stocked with everything from camping supplies, ice, and firewood to knick knacks, snacks, and maps. They also sell some campfire grills, which could be helpful if you’re cooking over a fire; the fire rings do not have grills. There’s a gated entrance, so you need to check in before the camp store closes on your first night. There will be a $20 cash deposit for the access card, refundable when you return the card. My cell phone had 2-3 bars 4G on Verizon.
Product Review: Banner& Oak Freedom Hoodie in Heathered Black
As a Ranger for The Dyrt I sometimes get to review equipment. Just before I headed out on this camping trip I received a Banner& Oak Freedom Hoodie in heathered black. I was grateful for the cool evenings and mornings so I could try this out. I usually wear a women’s large, so I ordered this in a medium and the fit was perfect, coming down over my waist and wrists. I like the length, but if you’re shortwaisted, you may find it is too long. The fabric is super soft and lightweight, not bulky.
When I put my hands in the pockets I discovered the left pocket had an~1 1/2” hole where the stitching didn’t join the front and back of the pockets. It was high enough that I wasn’t too worried about losing something through the hole, but I did make a point not to put my keys in that pocket; I’ll be running it through the sewing machine. The graphics are simple light gray lettering. It’s 60% cotton/40% poly, so you won’t want to rely on it for a hiking trip, but for hanging around a campsite, it's perfect!
I stayed at Zealand Falls hut a few years ago while finishing my pursuit of the New Hampshire 4000-footers and have revisited it a few times on shorter hikes (it’s ony 600’ of elevation and less than 3 miles), including this weekend. It serves as a family-friendly first destination for new backpackers, a jumping off spot for a Bond traverse, or a winter destination. This is one of the few huts open year-round, although in winter you’ll have to hike up Zealand Road to the trailhead.
With a stay in the hut during peak season, you’ll receive a pillow, 3 wool blankets, and family style dinner and breakfast. The rest of the year you’ll have a pillow and maybe a fire in the fireplace in the evening; everything else is on you, so plan accordingly. The co-ed bunkrooms are on either side of the central dining room and kitchen. The bunks are triple deckers and are not assigned. You have lots of neighbors in the bunkroom and someone is likely to snore, so you'll want some earplugs(usually supplied) if you can't sleep through it.
It’s clean, folks are friendly, and the Croo will entertain while reminding you of the rules of hut life. There are compost toilets and cold running water. There are games and books for entertainment. Snacks are available. There may be a nature talk. If the skies are clear, you’ll want to check out the stars. A stay in the hut is pricey, but it's a great bargain if you have a long traverse ahead of you and want to keep your load a bit lighter. Be sure to make your reservation well in advance; the ease in reaching it makes it a popular spot! Zealand is one of the cozier huts.
One of the nice things about this hut is its location next to Zealand Falls. This late in the summer the water flow was on the low side, but I’ve been here when it’s been so high after a heavy storm that hikers had difficulty crossing it. From the ledges you have a view across the pond toward Mt. Tom and toward Nancy, Chocorua, and Carrigain. Relax on the rocks and soak up the sun, listen to the water, & chat with fellow explorers, or sit on the porch and greet hikers as they arrive. Time it right and you’ll likely meet AT through hikers with tales to tell.
Product Review: Banner & Oak Trek Burgundy ladies cap
As a Ranger with The Dyrt, I sometimes get to review equipment. This time around I had a Banner & Oak Trek Burgundy cap for ladies. I chose it because I like caps with a low crown and this was in a color I frequently wear. Rain was threatening and I’m always trying to keep raindrops off my glasses, so this seemed like a good time to try it out; I find a cap also helps keep my hood in place. The fabric is so soft (true of all 3 Banner & Oak items I tested) and it’s easily adjustable, so the fit was perfect. Easily…that’s the operative word here. Banner& Oak chose a closure that makes adjustments so much easier than the ones where you have feed it through a bit at a time. Open the clip, pull the end, close the clip when it’s at the right spot.There’s a metal rim where the tab feeds into the cap so it won’t wear. The brim is slightly curved, which I like. I’m looking forward to a lot more hikes with my Banner and Oak cap!
I reviewed this campground last fall after visiting on the final day of the season, but I just had a chance to sty here during a peak summer weekend and have a few additional insights. Fees are now up to $20/night, still a bargain, but it comes with only the most basic amenities, i.e. vault toilets, running water at faucets, picnic tables and fire rings. Although the campground description indicates that the sites are first-come, first-served, this has changed and many of them are available online in advance. I didn't realize this and when i arrived late Friday afternoon I had 5 or 6 campsites to choose from that could accommodate my small teardrop camper; if I were tent camping, I'd have had a couple more sites available to me. The tent only sites require a short walk from the parking area.
When you arrive, each site will be labelled either Reserved or Open. If it is Reserved, the dates it is reserved will be listed and they may not be contiguous. All the sites filled up Friday night.
I had site 24 which I liked. it was very large and level, with ample space for today's large tents. The water spigot was near the site next door. I could see my neighbors, but they didn't bother me. Every host site always seems to look messy with tarp-covered items and wood piles and site 24 will give you a view of the host site, but it's far enough away that you can ignore it.
If I were in a tent, I'd try for site 22. It's a walk-in site that includes 7-8 steps down, but it opens into a large open area and just a bit beyond there is a small brook, too.
The campground is just a few miles west of I-93 and the town of Woodstock. If you want to hike Mooselauke or the Kinsmans, the Appalachian Trail crosses 112 nearby. Lost River Gorge is nearby as are numerous tourist attractions/activities in Woodstock and Lincoln. Take some time to explore Cascade Park in Woodstock if you want to cool off in the river and lounge on the rocks (park on the street or in the lot that is north of 112 just before the traffic light at Rte 3 in Woodstock). While you're there, pick up ice cream at Coneheads; choose among numerous hard serve ice cream made on site (downstairs) or dozens of soft-serve flavors.
This side of 112 seems quieter than the stretch east of Lincoln. Noise level was quite low. Cell coverage is non-existent for several miles around here; you'll start to get a signal closer to Lost River Gorge in the direction of Woodstock.
It will be tough to beat the price ($6-12/person before taxes) at this Penobscot River Corridor campsite. Located just across the Golden Road from the Abol Bridge campground and before the bridge, Abol Pines is a state operated campground with picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and a few sites with lean-tos. Millinocket is your last place purchase most forgotten items if you're coming from that direction, though there are a couple of smaller shops along the way. Be prepared to drive on gravel logging roads that can tear up your tires. Don't be surprised when the logging trucks start coming through in the morning.
I was here in early June, when rafting had started, but the Katahdin trails were not yet open. The campground was completely unoccupied. There are beautiful views of Katahdin from the bridge. This is NOT the Abol campground located in Baxter State Park. If you're paddling or rafting the Penobscot or planning an attempt on Katahdin, but couldn't get a spot within the park, this may be just what you need. Your noise experience will depend on your fellow campers as there isn't a host on site full time. May and June, prepare for black flies!!!
You'll park and then walk into the campsites. There was a little water on the road, but easily passable. The sites themselves were generally dry.
If you're from out of state with a few people in your group, it may be less expensive to book a site in a more formal campground.
Tripoli Road is a seasonal road, opening in late May most years and closing in autumn. Check the White Mountain National Forest Facebook page for up to date road closures/status. The section before Russell Pond often opens before the rest of it, which is graded, not paved. The road runs between the Waterville Valley area and I-93 exit 31. This is roadside camping, no frills, first come, first served. You must stay at a site with a fire ring, but sites are not numbered. Road signs demarcate no camping zones; some areas look like they could be campsites, but will also be marked with no camping signs.
You must register at the ranger station on the western end of the road, shortly past the entrance to the Russell Pond campground. Rates are a flat rate set per car and per weekends or weekday period. In other words, you pay one rate for 1-5 weekdays ($20 in 2019) and another fee for a weekend($25-30 - holidays). It’s self service most of the time, with the ranger available Friday and Saturday evenings.
The sites vary from sites near and level with the road to ones set above or well below the road. Some are near a river, most are wooded. Some are isolated, others are close together. There are no reservations, so you'll be choosing your own when you arrive. Downhill sites closest to the Russell Pond area seem to be most popular. Most of these were occupied on a late June weekend, while those farther down the road remained empty.
There are port-a-potties near the western entrance, but otherwise you’re on your own with cat holes or portable toilet solutions. Nearest showers are at Russell Pond. Please keep it clean and protect the area. I’ve passed through several times while hiking My Osceola and have observed that these sites are often filled with groups or families with multiple tents. On a late June weekend there are numerous empty sites, so they seem to be more available than the dispersed sites along Gale River Rd and Haystack Rd (farther north in Twin Mountain). Excessive drinking and noise can be an issue.
You need to be aware that bears are in the area. Following the July 4, 2019 holiday, the camping area was closed after bears visited campsites and got into food that was left in the open and not secured in vehicles or bear canisters. The camping area re-opened July 19, but check the White Mountain National Forest FB page before heading up there. If the issue recurs, I wouldn't be surprised if they close it again.
Hiking in the region include the Osceolas (moderate hike with beautiful views, exceedingly popular and crowded on autumn weekends - get there early!), Tripyramid, and Tecumseh. Shorter treks include Welch-Dickey (great open ledges) and Snow's Mountain (along a river with falls). Nearby Russell Pond offers ranger programs, fishing, and you can put a kayak or canoe in. The Pemigewassett offers tubing and kayaking put ins. Outfitters one exit south can provide you with transportation and rentals. Exit 32 for Lincoln, Woodstock, and the Kanc is less than 5 miles north.
Cell service is decent at nearby Russell Pond (Verizon seemed to offer better service than AT&T).
There aren't many campgrounds open in the winter in NH, but this campground just before the entrance to the larger Dolly Copp campground in Gorham is one of them. During the summer, it offers 11 sites for groups only with reservations required.
There's a blend of wooded/open sites located in a loop. So often it seems that group sites are wide open fields with minimal separation. Barnes Field provides clearly defined sites with picnic tables and fire pits. Water is supplied by a hand pump and toilets are vault. There are showers ($) nearby in Dolly Copp.
Rates in summer start at $40 for 10 campers and increase by $10 increments to $70 for 40. In winter you pay a per vehicle fee of $15.
There were youth groups and adult AMC groups at the campground.
Site 8 is more secluded and up a small hill. Site 7 is in inside of the loop, wooded, and wet around the perimeter.
It's located in close proximity to hiking trails in the northern Presidentials and Carter range. Wildcat ski is 6 miles south. There are numerous trails around for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ATVs.
If you can't snag a site along Gale River Rd or you are looking to hike the Twin Mountains, then continue a little farther north on US 3 near Twin Mountain (a little north of the Beaver Brook Picnic Area) and try your luck on Haystack Rd. This road is closed in winter and will open in late spring after the road has dried out and any repairs have been made. In 2019, it opened in mid-June. Check the the White Mountain National Forest FB page or website (FB is usually more up-to-date) for road status, including closures in the autumn.
When open, you can drive in to one of 11 numbered, wooded sites and camp up to 14 nights for free. You may have up to 3 vehicles and 15 people on a site. The only amenity is a fire pit, but the road ends at the Little River, offering fishing and swimming options. The parking lot at the end of Haystack Rd serves as the Twin Mountain trail head. You may see moose or bears in the area.
Franconia Notch State Park is just south of here, with its hikes, recreation trail, echo lake, and the Flume. Head east on 302 and you'll find yourself in Crawford Notch State Park with waterfalls and hikes.
Forgot something? Fosters Corners just a few miles north has an eclectic selection of essentials as well as gas. Or take I-93 north to Littleton to a wider variety of shops.