Weekend camping at Pillsbury State Park- Washington, NH

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Price and I had been talking about going camping this summer for a long time. We finally found a weekend that would work and off we went to Pillsbury State Park for a little camping weekend.

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We had been talking about going to Pillsbury State Park for about 2 years but we made it work this weekend since we knew we wouldn’t have another chance. Plus it was pushing my limit of going camping while pregnant. Kinda something related to peeing 10x a day and using a campground toilet.

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Pilsbury State Park is located in Washington, NH, about 45 minutes West North West from Concord. It is is comprised of 8,100+ acres that surround 3 large ponds. Open from the end of May to the end of October, the campgrounds have 41 tent sites that are either accessible along the main road through the campgrounds, by foot on a short hike, or canoe across the ponds.

When I called on Thursday the campgrounds were booked up, except that there are few campsites (5, 8, 9, 13, 21, 31, and 34) that are not reservable so we still had some options available. I learned that the state park opens up at 8.30 and by 9.30, after the rangers have done a drive thru to make sure it’s all clean, you can reserve the available campsites.

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Once ranger Tracy went through the grounds she came back to inform us that we had 5, 8, and 13 for us to pick from. I picked campsite #8 since it was a solo campsite so it would provide us with a bit more distance from the others, which would be helpful in keeping the dog quiet. As well, it was a very quick walk to the cluster of sites 9-19, which had toilet facilities and a water spigot. Plus then we discovered that there is a little creek just off from the side of the campsite. Kemper loved it.

We unloaded all of our stuff and set up the dog on a stake so he could roam around the site a bit while we set up the tent.

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And then off we went to check out the rest of the campgrounds, which include a jungle gym and big, open picnic area overlooking Mill Pond. Then we continued on to our hike up Balance Rock Trail. The trail is 1.2 miles each way from the start of the trail head and is a easy hike for families (and dogs!) that climbs up 550 feet up as it winds up and around Bryant Mountain.

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So yeah, this was the typical scene on the trail with the dog looking down at me like “why are you taking so long?!?” He didn’t really care when I was trying to explain to him that trudging up the trail at 6 months pregnant took some extra time. He was breezing up the trail on climbing up rocks, boulders, and hoping over downed logs. Quite the show off.

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Not Balance Rock! Just some balancing rocks. Price put on the top one.

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The best part of the trail was this overlook on the east side of Bryant Mountain right before you reach Balance Rock. I can’t even guess how far we could see since it just seemed to go on and on. It looked over the North Pond in Pillsbury State Park, the hills of Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail, and way beyond.

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When did he get so big?

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Some sweaty photos at the overlook.

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We finally made it to Balance Rock! It was a nice 3-mile hike (from our campsite and back) but we were saying that if there was no overlook we would have been a big disappointed just to reach the big rock. Don’t get me wrong- it was so cool so see this big rock deposited by glaciers on this ledge, but I’m all about the views. That being said, I would totally go back and do this again later on in the season (next year!) so we could see the stunning fiery oranges and reds filling up the changing forest.

We all took a nap once we got back to the campsite. I just love opening up all the vent flaps on the tent and letting the breeze blow in. Plus any chance I can take a nap is awesome with me.

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Obviously, we woke up super hungry since we had not eaten since breakfast (smart). We left the state park and headed north about 11 miles, stopping off at Violette’s Supermarket in Newport, NH. The small market had a nice selection of beers, fresh bakery breads, meats, and all the camping supplies you’d need. We bought some cheese, crackers, and pepperoni for a snack to have as our chicken sausages we picked up for dinner cooked over the fire.

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Price had to work really hard to get the fire going but kicked some ass and finally got it going so we could enjoy it for several hours. We enjoyed dinner and roasted up some marshmallows for dessert. Kemper was so tired that he fell asleep in my arms as we sat in front of the fire. 

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At 6.30 the next morning we walked down to a public boat (kayak, canoe) launch into Mill Pond, located between campsites 10 and 11. We quietly stood there and watched the mist burn off the pond as the 4 windmills spun in the distance.

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We made breakfast of bacon, eggs, and blueberry pancakes over our Propane 1-Burner Stove while we sat in front of another fire that Price made to finish off the 4 bundles of wood we had purchased.

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Then I said I would lay down for 5 minutes and, of course, Price had to wake me up an hour later. When I downloaded the pictures from the weekend, I discovered these photos of the sunlight casting through the trees that he took during my ‘quick’ nap. 

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Right before we left we let Kemper do a bit more playing around in the May Pond by the Park’s lodge building. He is fearless and just runs and will take off swimming for sticks we throw him.

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On the drive back we stopped at Winter Hill Farm Market.  The Farm now has a market in the old Withington Antiques Barn building and it is just darling. I was so in love with the store from the decor to the local produce and products they sold. I picked up a bottle of maple syrup and 2 locally made sodas for our ride home. I want to go back to check out what foods they have and get some ice cream from their air stream out back.

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Kemper was drunk tired afterwards and fought sleeping in the car for fear of missing something out the window. He finally settled down and then basically crashed for the rest of Sunday and Monday.

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Well, we were all really tired. 🙂

Price and I will definitely go back to Pillsbury State Park for camping and for visiting. It was a fun weekend at a beautiful, clean campgrounds. There were plenty of things to do there from canoeing, kayaking, picnicking, and hiking. As well, the campgrounds were quiet enough to really step back and relax from it all.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Bring cash with you as you need to pay a small fee to visit the park.
  • The toilets are just pit toilets so there were no sinks to wash your hands so be sure to pack some anti-bacterial hand gel.
  • I would not expect to stay more than 2 nights as there are no shower facilities, unless you really like to rough it.
  • While the park does say not to bring in outside wood we had picked up an extra bundle at the grocery store, which worked out well since that was much drier than the wood at the campgrounds. We ended up starting both of our fires using the grocery store wood and once that was going adding in the campground wood. So either break the rules or be sure to bring a lot of fire starters like newspaper, cardboard, candles, etc.

9 thoughts on “Weekend camping at Pillsbury State Park- Washington, NH

  1. Kita (@passthesushi) says:

    You went camping pregnant?! HARDCORE!

    And I really really want to go camping. Im so jealous. I love everything about it (minus the no showers and pit toilets). Handsome hates it though, and by our powers combined a tent would never get assembled.

    Loved the pics!


  2. Sarah says:

    Don’t worry, you weren’t breaking the rules by bringing in grocery store wood. You just can’t bring in out of state firewood because we have a major invasive insect crisis going on. So, don’t break the rules, everyone! But what you did was fine. Pillsbury is a beautiful spot. A fave of ours. Beautiful photos!


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