With fall just getting under way what better way to kick off the season than by spending a weekend in the woods of New England. With the cool weather quickly approaching New England is one of the best places to travel to this autumn if you plan to take a leisurely hike through the mountains and forests that cover the Northeast landscape. Autumn’s crisp days and sunny skies make this time of the year the perfect time to get away and travel.
Knowing where to stay, what amenities are available to hikers and campers, and how safe the area is that you want to stay in is very important. You want to enjoy the time you have with your family and friends while on your camping retreat without the worry of whether you picked the right area. These are some of the best places in New England that I have had the pleasure of camping in during different seasons, with fall being my favorite time of the year to do it.
Harold Parker State Forest Campground
Famous for it’s quiet beauty and picturesque scenery, Harold Parker State Forest covers over 3,000 acres of woods that surrounds the towns of Andover, North Andover, North Reading and Middleton, Massachusetts. At Harold Parker State Forest you will also find 35 miles of logging roads and hiking trails that will take you through the Central Hardwood, Hemlock and White Pine trees that cover this camping area like a blanket over the Massachusetts landscape.
While in the Harold Parker State Forest you can enjoy horseback riding trails, biking trails, hunting and fishing and picnicking. You will also find 11 ponds throughout the state park if you want to enjoy a quiet boating trip.
Camping for Harold Parker State Forest is also available at Lorraine Park Campground from late May to early September. That location offers 89 camping sites with water, a grill and a picnic table. There are no electrical hookups, but there is a bathroom with hot water showers.
For more information visit the parks website here.
305 Middleton Road
N. Andover Ma. 01845
Main office 978-686-3391
Camping info please call 978 475-7972
Lorraine Park (campground):
133 Jenkins Road
Andover Ma. 01810
Located on the Kancamagus Highway, near I-93, the Hancock Campground is the perfect place to get away and camp in the quiet wilderness of northern New Hampshire. Hancock Campground is a favorite for hikers and campers because of its proximity to the Kank, but also because it is less cluttered with tourists like other popular hiking trails and campsites in the area. This area is also within driving distance of other attractions such as Cannon Mountain and Franconia State Park.
While in the park you can enjoy swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking, sightseeing and pleasure driving. The campgrounds are also adjacent to the East branch of the Pemigewasset River, which is great for a quiet canoeing trip. You will also find 56 wooded sites for camping here that include a picnic table, fireplace and tent pad. 21 sites share a common area, and 35 sites offer private camping in a wooded setting. You will also find water at your site and two bathroom facilities.
This park is open year-round and costs $22 for one vehicle, and $5 for each additional vehicle. Sorry, pets are not allowed in this park.
For more information visit the park website here.
Hancock Campground is located on the Kancamagus Highway 5 miles east of I-93, exit 32, and 7 miles respectively. For up to date information call (603) 745-3816
Hermit Island Campground
If camping in the mountains this fall isn’t what you’re looking for try a hiking trip along the Atlantic coast of Maine at Hermit Island Campground. This private campground located just outside of Bath, Maine offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and is a camper’s paradise. The owners really go out of their way to make sure the campers are happy and stay occupied during their trip. You will find areas for swimming, fishing, boating and hiking all over the island. The general store for the island offers rentals and keeps a list of activities for the coming week on hand if you’re looking for something to do.
The best part of the stay here is the trails that spread out over the island, including one that takes you right along the edge of the ocean. You will also find a camping supplies and food available at the general store when it is open for the season starting in mid-May. The park has 275 campsites that include a picnic table and fire ring. The sites range from ocean view to in a quiet forest setting away from the ocean. There are also 3 cottages on the property for rent.
The park is open during favorable weather seasons and the cost ranges from $32 – $56 for campsites. Cabins need to be rented in advance. For more information visit the park website here.
42 Front Street
Bath, ME 04530
Grafton Notch State Park
If you’re looking for adventure while hiking or camping in Maine you will find it in Grafton Notch State Park. Home to some of the most beautiful scenery in northern Maine, Grafton Notch offers back country hiking as well as the tall peaks of Mahoosuc Range and deep gorges. You will also find the entrance to the Appalachian Trail that includes 12 miles of hiking trails, some of the toughest along the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Camping is plentiful in Grafton Notch, and if you plan to see the entire park it is recommended you plan a few days of camping and hiking to see all the beauty this park has to offer. I was here in July and we spent two days hiking and camping near Table Rock. If you’re up for a challenge Table Rock offers two ways to get to the summit with a great view of the Notch. I would recommend this climb to someone who is well versed in hiking and climbing as part of the trail becomes very steep as you climb over boulders. You also have the option of taking the Appalachian Trail, which is a little easier.
For the most part camping in Grafton Notch is primitive and caution should be taken for wild animals or conditions on the trails. While the park is open year round, it is staffed from mid-May through mid-September.
For more information visit their website here.
1941 Bear River Road
Newry, ME 04261
In season, May 15 to Oct. 15, call: (207) 824-2912
Off season: (207) 624-6080