Step Outside - New Hampshire WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - New Hampshire 144 144 Sun, 21 Apr 2019 09:46:39 -0500 10 Best Ski Destinations for Families in New Hampshire When snow falls on New Hampshire, locals and tourists flock to the slopes.  Whether you’re looking for private lessons, expertly-manicured hills, or you simply want to hit the snow tubing area, there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone in the family to enjoy a ski day in New Hampshire. Here are the 10 best destinations in the state! 

Bretton Woods is New Hampshire’s largest ski area, and is perfect for families. In addition to children’s programs and ski rentals and repairs, there is a Junior Pass Program that saves families money. Whether you’re a skier or a snow boarder, you’ll love it here.

Cranmore Mountain is beloved by families for their Arlberg Children’s Center. Parents can drop off their kids in the program, and counselors will get the kids out on the Penguin Trails for lessons, skiing, snowboarding and more. There are exceptional season-long programs for both kids and adults.

just a few noobs on some tubes

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With group and private lessons available for children, Mount Sunapee is an excellent spot for the entire family to ski and snowboard. Featuring terrain parks and plenty of slopes, check out their season passes to make the fun even more affordable.

Loon Mountain features more open terrain than any other ski area in the Granite State. The whole family will love the programs and lessons. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, enjoy snow tubing and ice skating, as well as a winter zip line ride.

Whether you ski or snowboard, you’re going to love everything about Attitash Mountain. Dine slope side, spend the weekend, take lessons and more. You’ll never get enough of the family-friendly atmosphere at this ski area.

When single digit temperatures feel warm.... #ski #attitash #spyder #skitheeast #whichoneami

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Enjoy skiing, snowboarding and lessons for both at King Pine. Kids start with the Knee High program, where they begin skiing with a harness and proceed from there. Don’t worry if you can’t buy new gear for the whole family every season. King Pine has affordable rentals for everyone.

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Enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing at Gunstock Mountain. Dine at one of several options, ensuring something the whole family likes. Ride the Mountain Coaster for even more fun.

Even if everyone in the family isn’t a fan of downhill skiing or snowboarding, there is also cross-country skiing at Waterville Valley to satisfy everyone in your group. They even feature an Adaptive Snowsports Programs for those with a variety of disabilities. Everyone will love hanging out by the fire at the Adventure Center and sipping some hot cocoa.

Ski, snowboard, dine and enjoy live music on the weekends at Wildcat Mountain. Rent equipment or buy new at the pro shop. If the kids aren’t ready to ski or ride, they can hang out in the Kitten Club Nursery while the rest of the family enjoys all the mountain offers. 

Welcome Winter. #wildcat #wedelnskiclub

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Ski and ride at Cannon Mountain. Lessons are available for all levels for both kids and adults. There’s a nursery for those who aren’t ready for either sport, and an adaptive skiing program for kids and adults with special needs. Visit the food court or one of several additional options for food and beverages for the whole family.

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10 Best Ice Skating Rinks in New Hampshire Ice skating is the perfect way to embrace winter’s cold while burning a few calories and enjoying time with friends and family. The following spots in New Hampshire are perfect for ice skating, so lace up your skates and get ready to maintain good balance!

Open seasonally, you can enjoy ice skating at Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond. Learn-To-Skate programs ensure everyone gets a chance to make their way around the rink. In addition, there’s a warm viewing area and a café for those not up for enduring the cold.

There is an outdoor ice skating rink on the grounds of the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa. Skate rentals are $10. The skating here is weather dependent. So the ice has to be frozen over an extended period of time for it to be safe to use! 

Loon Mountain has a lot of opportunity for winter fun, but its ice skating is particularly great. The rink is open until 6 p.m. on Saturdays and there are skate rentals available. To rent and skate it will cost $20. Do note that ice skating is weather dependent. Call before you go to see if skating is available!  

When the pond freezes at Stratham Hill Park, it’s open to everyone for ice skating. Nothing quite compares to skating in the beautiful outdoors, especially in place as picturesque as New Hampshire. 

Featuring about 25 acres of outdoor skating, Dorrs Pond is adjacent to Livingston Park. You’ll be afforded absolutely stunning New England views as your skate on this pristine pond. And it costs nothing to do so! 

Located on the edge of the Dartmouth College campus, near the Hanover Country Club, Occom Pond is perfect for ice skating. There is no charge to skate, but you do skate at your own risk.

A pond in the center of Robin Hood Park makes for excellent ice skating once it has properly frozen. The city of Keene grooms the frozen pond for optimal skating.

A skating rink at Schouler Park is popular among residents and guests of North Conway. Skaters will appreciate the warming hut, too! 

The town pond in Bow is located next to the Bow Community Center and is open to all for skating. Check with the town first to make sure the ice has been deemed safe for skating, however.

Contact the concierge desk at the Mount Washington Resort, as the ice skating rink is often open to visitors not staying at the resort! It costs $10 to rent skates. 

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10 Best Apres Ski Activities in New Hampshire From sipping wine to getting a massage, apres ski activities are a great way to enjoy yourself after a day on the slopes. Whether you ski or just go along for the scenery, New Hampshire has numerous options to indulge in. Here are our favorites. 

Ride the snowcat to the top of Mount Washington (it’s the only way to get there in the winter!) and spend some time visiting the observatory there. The conditions on top of the mountain rival those of Mount Everest. You’ll learn a wealth of information about the mountain, as well as climate research that is underway. Both day and overnight trips are available. This is an experience that is unrivaled. So take part of your day away from the slopes and do something equally as exciting.

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Between live entertainment on the weekends, countless promos and an apres ski menu, T-Bars at Waterville Valley is a big hit with skiers and observers. Open daily starting at 11 a.m., they serve lunch, dinner, and plenty of appetizers to accompany the cocktails, beers, and liquors that are served. The atmosphere is casual but trendy, and always exudes a sense of fun.

On Saturday nights, Cannonball Pub hosts apres ski parties for those aged 21 and up. Eat, drink and be merry while listening to live music and taking part in a variety of hosted events.

Live entertainment including music and comedians entertain skiers at Trails End Tavern at King Pine. The food is typical pub fare and the drinks are good. There’s a homey feel to the pub, so if you’re with the family and want some tavern-fare, you’re welcome to bring the whole crew in! Children, of course, must be accompanied by their parents.

Schedule a massage at Viaggio Spa when you’ve made your final run of the day. Their menu of treatments is extensive, and perfect if you’ve tweaked some muscles you haven’t used in a while. You’ll be relaxed and refreshed when you return to the slopes the next day!

Take a tour, sip some wine, and buy a bottle or two to take home from Seven Birches Winery. Located just minutes from Loon Mountain, you’ll experience classic European grapes made into wine that “embraces the spirit of New Hampshire.”

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Check out May Kelly’s Pub for delicious food and drinks near Mount Cranmore. Open until 10 p.m. on Saturdays, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some real homestyle cooking. 

An old railroad station-turned restaurant is just minutes from the slopes at Bretton Woods. Fabyan’s Restaurant provides ambience that’s perfect for an evening of good food, drinks and friends. Enjoy classic pub fare, cocktails, beer and more.

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Just minutes from Mount Sunapee, grab some dinner and a few drinks at Mountain Spirits Tavern. Located inside the Mountain Edge Resort & Spa, the atmosphere is rustic and casual and the food is hearty and delicious. Sit at a table or at the bar, wind down with some drinks and talk about your plan to hit the slopes again the next morning.

Another place to check out after skiing Mount Washington is The Cave. You’ll find this former speakeasy in the basement level of the resort, which adds to the prohibition-era feel of the bar. Open daily from 9 p.m. until midnight, this place is the ideal place to come after a day full of snowy adventure. You’ll be surrounded by stone walls, and live entertainment on select nights. Light fare is also included on their well-curated menu., as well as craft cocktails, and other beverages.

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Best Winter Weekend Getaway at Monadnock State Park Monadnock State Park is home to Mount Monadnock, a 3,165-foot high mountain that was designated a National Natural Landmark in the 1980s. The park is open throughout all four New Hampshire seasons, so you have no reason not to get outdoors during the winter! From excellent camping to beautiful hiking, here’s how to make the most of your winter weekend getaway at Monadnock State Park. 

Rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, Monadnock State Park is a stunning winter retreat. Covering 1,017 acres, this park is open to hiking, camping, backpacking, cross-country skiing, and much more. During the winter season, Monadnock is truly a sight to see. 

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Winter camping is limited at Monadnock State Park, but with careful planning you can enjoy sleeping in the great New Hampshire outdoors when the temperatures dip well below freezing, and there’s plenty of snow on the ground. Once all other campsites in the park close for the winter, camping becomes available at Monadnock Headquarters. Call well ahead of your winter weekend getaway in order to score a spot. 

Pumpelly Trail heads up Mount Monadnock, leading hikers along an open ridge to the summit for a 3.5-mile hike. This is perfect for families with beginner hikers, but it might be wise to put slip-on metal cleats on the kids or those without any experience. Monadnock Headquarters will inform hikers of the trail condition and if icy conditions make it unsafe for hiking.

Cross-country skiing will warm you up during your weekend winter getaway. A loop was created for this purpose alone, and those at Monadnock Headquarters will send you in the right direction. There must be a minimum of eight inches of snow on the ground in order for cross-country skiing to take place, but New Hampshire winters in the mountains typically yield that as a minimum. Bring your gear, be sure to pack water and snacks, and plan to enjoy a good portion of your day.

Catch perch, black crappie, bass and pickerel while ice fishing at Gilson Pond in the park. Up to six lines per person may be used. Personnel at Monadnock Headquarters will direct you to the pond. Bring a sled or toboggan to hold gear, make a fire on the pond and sit back and tell tales around the campfire until that first fish bites.

The only hunting during your winter weekend getaway that’s allowed in the state of New Hampshire is pheasant hunting. That may take place anywhere within Monadnock State Park that hasn’t posted “No Hunting” signs, and that isn’t closer than 500 yards to recreation area, including designated hiking trails. Pheasant hunting ends on December 31.

Not far from Monadnock State Park, bring your family to visit the Mariposa Museum & World Culture Center. Check the website for exhibits and enjoy the learning adventures on tap. Try on costumes representing people from all over the world. Play musical instruments, enjoy the puppets, and more. The learning experiences here are perfect for all ages.

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Four display rooms await visitors at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture. Objects, documents, and photographs depict the rich history the region boasts. Visit a period display of the Robbe Family Kitchen and a collection of early American furniture, decorative arts, clocks, and more. Children will love learning to write or draw with a quill pen, playing historic games and making a rag doll.

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Be sure to visit Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates when your winter weekend getaway is over, so you can bring some of the delightful confections home with you. Making chocolates since 2003, Susan and Peter Mazzone specialize in award-winning milk and dark chocolates, including truffles, clusters, hand-painted chocolates, chocolate covered cherries and more.

Stock up on extra virgin olive oils, infused olive oils and both dark and white balsamic vinegars at Monadnock Oil & Vinegar Co. Check out their specialty salts, herbs and spices, too. You’ll be so excited about these spectacular finds that you’ll want to hurry home and start cooking. What a perfect way to end your winter weekend getaway!

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At Jaffrey Pizza Barn you’ll enjoy some of the best pizza around—and a whole lot more. Dine on pasta, calzones, grinders, fried foods, salads, desserts and more. Everyone in the family will love the meal they choose in this low-key, casual establishment.

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9 Best Archery Outfitters in New Hampshire Whether you’re looking to hone your accuracy with some backyard target practice or you’re ready to score that big buck, finding the best quality equipment and service from your local archery stores is essential! From expansive sporting goods stores to small, mom and pop shops, here are the 10 best archery outfitters in the state. 

Featuring bows by Prime, Hoyt and Elite, Morse Sporting Goods also carries crossbows by TenPoint. In addition, you’ll find a nice assortment of crossbow bolts and beginner packages.

Pelletier Sports sells an impressive array of archery equipment by Bowtech, Diamond, Hoyt, and Mathews. You may also buy your fish and game license when you stop by.

Selling both new and used archery equipment, Hunter’s Hideaway also provides lessons on their indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. Replace your broken arrows with new ones by Easton.

Ken is your go-to expert for all things archery at Skip’s Sport Shop. Whether you’re just starting out or ready to up your game, he will provide tips on what you need and from which manufacturer you should buy. Skip’s carries archery equipment by PSE and targets by Morrell.

L.L. Cote is known as the best shopping spot for everything outdoors sports related in New Hampshire’s North Country. Their archery equipment rotates often, as it sells out quickly. Make sure you check back frequently!  

Love this place #northeast #newhampshire #countryboy #country #countrything

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The Tackle Shop has it all. Be sure to stop in to check out the incredible Xpedition high-speed bows they now have in stock. You can get your hunting and fishing license here, too. If you need help getting your bow setup and ready to go, the staff at the Tackle Shop has expert advice and services. You’re in good hands at the Tackle Shop.  

Going to be painting the outside soon. Brown is going to be blue

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It’s hard to beat the friendly and helpful atmosphere cultivated at Stateline Guns, Ammo & Archery. Not only will you find all of the gear and accessories you’ll need for a good bow hunt, but you’ll also receive expert knowledge and services that are simply unmatched. 

This absolutely classic, down-home spot in Swanzey, New Hampshire, specializes in Mathews and Mission bows, custom arrows, bow repair, and all major brand accessories. Any gear and any pointers you need, you will find at Pete’s Archery Shop. 

Even though Coyote Creek Outfitters doesn’t carry a regular supply of archery equipment, archers can pick up their scopes and rangefinders by Bushnell and Leupold in their store. In addition, they can stock up on hunting apparel by Gamehide and Carhartt.

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in New Hampshire Whether you’re headed to Rye or Hampton to fish in the ocean or up to the mountains to fish in one of countless lakes and streams that draw an abundance of fishermen and women on a regular basis, you’ll need to stock up on fishing gear and bait. The following New Hampshire stores carry both, so check one out when you’re lured by the lapping waves.

Pick up Aspen reels, Simms Waders, and choose from more than 700 fly patterns at North Country Angler. Check out their in-season stream reports and ask any questions you may have. All their staff members are avid anglers.

Not your typical fishing or tackle shop by any means, you’ll find supplies for the saltwater and commercial fisherman at New England Marine and Industrial. Stock up on Novatec parts for hauling in shrimp or herring, as well as ACCO chains and hoists for use on a commercial boat.

Selling fishing reels by Penn and both rods and reels by Quantum, Pinnacle Sports provides the equipment and the expertise you need to fish in New Hampshire. Check out their line of G. Loomis fly fishing gear, too.

In addition to a wide range of bait available at Hole in the Wall, they also carry fishing electronics by Aqua-Vu. Check out the trolling systems and downriggers by Big Jon. If you need a boat for fishing, Hole in the Wall will either rent or sell you one.

You’ll be impressed by the fishing department at Morse Sporting Goods. Selling fishing gear by Shimano, they also carry ice fishing equipment and shelters by Shappell.

If you’ve imagined visiting an entire store dedicated solely to fly fishing, imagine no more. Your dream has come true at Mountain High Fly. There you’ll find rods by Redington and Sage  as well as reels by Ross and Redington. You’ll also discover more flies than you’ve likely ever seen in your life.

Love this place! 🎣 #flyshop #fishnh #mountainhighfly #whitemountains #112 #lincolnnh #exit32

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If ice or fly fishing is your passion, you’ll love the Tackle Shack. They’re stocked up on the needed equipment to saw through the ice and wait for that tug on your line. Check out their augers by Nils and Ion. Check out their more than 600 flies, too!

Going to be painting the outside soon. Brown is going to be blue

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Not only is Granite State Rod & Reel known for their repairs of fishing gear, they also sell some tried and true brands. Check out their rods and reels by Quantum and Zebco If you’re in the market for repairs, rest assured that in most cases your equipment will be returned to you in nearly new condition. 

The specialty at this bait and tackle shop is ice fishing. Ice Hole Bait and Tackle in Brookline, New Hampshire, is only open from December until around mid-March, depending on the weather. Here you’ll find Jiffy augers, Shappell and Eskimo shelters, jet sleds, live bait, and just about everything else you could possibly need for a successful ice fishing trip. 

Martel’s Bait & Sport Shop in Laconia, New Hampshire, is well loved by locals. Find everything you’ll need for not only fishing, but guns, ammo, archery, and more. 

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Best Places to Fish in the East This Fall A smorgasbord of baitfish is served up to striped bass in the fall as they make their way south along the Atlantic coast from Maine to their wintering waters in the mid-Atlantic.

Hot Spots To Fish: Deservedly, Montauk, NY at the eastern end of Long Island is considered a storied mecca for striped bass fishermen. If you’re not going surf fishing on the beach or fishing from a jetty, Gone Fishing Marina (631-668-3232, can set up a charter trip for you. If it’s booked up, try Star Island Yacht Club (631-668-5052, or Montauk Marine Basin (631-668-5900,

Find the best fishing spots near you:

Down south, talk to the folks at Captain Hogg’s Charter Service (757-876-1590, about fishing around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Overdrawn Charters  (252-202-4623, in Manteo, N.C. can help as well.

Tackle You’ll Need: Stick with 30- to 50-pound braid or monofilament and a 60-pound-test shock leader of fluorocarbon, with saltwater-ready spinning tackle heavy enough to handle 10- to 14-foot rods. Penn, Quantum and Okuma specialize in fairly inexpensive surf-fishing rods, and reels to match. If you have a reel, but no rod yet, the new Black Inshore Rods from Lamiglas are up to the task. The five spinning and five casting models range from a 6-foot, 10-inch light finesse spinning rod to a 7 ½-foot casting rod rated for lures from 3 to 12 ounces in weight.

Quick tip: The most successful anglers are those who spot gulls or other wheeling seabirds feeding on baitfish driven to the top by stripers and who then cast into the melee without dispersing the bass. From a boat, the trick is to approach schools carefully and take advantage of wind or tide to drift to within casting range. The stripers will stay up as long as the baitfish are hemmed against the surface.


Best Lures/Baits: The 4 1/2-inch Acme Kastmater XL spoon, the 1 ½-ounce Odin Popper, and the 5-inch pencil popper from Tsunami are popular artificials up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Other popular options include the 6- or 7-inch Savage Gear Sandeel Swimbait, 9-inch Sassy Shad swimbait and the 6-inch Rapala X-Rap SubWalk.

Find the best bait and tackle shops near you:

For anglers who’d rather soak baits from a boat or in the surf, live or cut bait, such as Atlantic menhaden (peanut bunker), herring, porgies, eels, bloodworms, anchovies and mullet, can flip the switch on chaotic striper blitzes.

Photograph Courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism The classic approach to surf fishing is still a great way to take advantage of the striper run along the Atlantic coast. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
9 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in New Hampshire Some outdoor enthusiasts eagerly await the end of summer to enjoy their favorite activities. Gone are the tourists, the bugs and the intense summer heat that sometimes makes active outings difficult. New Hampshire comes alive with vibrant fall colors and plenty of outdoor recreation to experience. From camping to guided fishing, here are the best outdoor fall activities to enjoy in New Hampshire. 

Go camping at Pawtuckaway State Park through October 31. 192 sites are available, with many offering direct water views. There are bath houses as well as a canoe and kayak launch. If tent camping isn’t your thing, there are five cabins available for camping. Pawtuckaway in the fall is a sight to behold; the trees surrounding the lake are a myriad of brilliant colors and the air smells crisp and clean. There are several options for day hikes that begin at the camping area. Just a few minutes’ drive from Pawtuckaway State Park you’ll find Susty’s Café. Enjoy vegan and organic dishes for both lunch and dinner. The entrees are ample and the service is excellent. For coffee, stop by the food truck Coffee Craving. Located on the side of the road in Lee, it serves up rich, robust coffee—hot and iced—and a variety of delicious baked goods. Stop by on your way to Pawtuckaway State Park.

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Go fishing for bass, tuna, and more out of Portsmouth Harbor or New Castle with Shoal Fly Fishing. Available for group or solo excursions through mid-October, make your reservations soon, as they fill up fast. These guys will help you reel in that big catch you’ve been looking for. 

Located in Crawford Notch State Park, Arethusa Falls is the highest waterfall hikers can access in the state of New Hampshire. Trails are maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, and are accessible through December 2. This is recommended for hikers with some experience, as up and back will take a good portion of your day. The view from the top and bottom of the falls is scintillating—especially if fall foliage is near peak. For a place to stay when you hike to Arethusa Falls, visit the Notchland Inn. Featuring lots of acreage in Hart's Location on the Saco River, bring your kayak or canoe for another exciting adventure. This is the place to stay in the White Mountains. You'll be at a loss for words when you wake up next to the gorgeous river in the midst of the warm-toned trees.

Each year countless visitors flock to Castle in the Clouds, a huge mountain top estate in Moultonborough. Many of them visit so they can go horseback riding while there. The intricate trail system on the Castle in the Clouds property is perfect for riding, and the company takes groups out on trail rides throughout the fall.

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New Castle, New Hampshire is a small island, and a popular one among kayakers as they can put their kayaks in the water at several points and circle the entire island. It’s a popular place for people to first try kayaking, as the waters are safe and calm. If you want to kayak around New Castle but don’t own a kayak, contact Portsmouth Kayak Adventures. Not only will they rent you all the equipment necessary, they’ll even take you themselves as one of their group expeditions. A stop at the Ice House is a must after kayaking in New Castle. Serving lunch, dinner and delicious ice cream, they offer up some of the best seafood around. Try their famous Seafood Chowder, it's a meal in itself.

Ride your ATV from Fremont to Epping on the Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail, Fremont Branch. 18 miles await outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore the trails throughout the day. Be sure to verify that ATVing is allowed on the trail of your choice! The wooded area through which the trail runs in filled with wildlife. You never know when you will see deer or even a bear. Stock up on outdoor gear before your ATVing adventure at Coyote Creek Outfitters in nearby Rochester. From apparel to maps, they stock just about anything you might need. For something to eat afterwards, or for sandwiches to bring along on your adventure, visit to Hammersmith Sandwich Company.  Their artisan sandwiches include rustic breads, wraps and paninis with every filling imaginable. Their soups and salads are delicious too. 

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There are several crags in Rumney that are excellent for rock climbing. The Rumney Climber’s Association has raised money to protect the crags and promote their availability to climbers. This is for climbers with some experience or who are climbing with a coach. If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, this is an excellent option for you! 

Several miles of trails and paths through the woods make Odiorne State Park the perfect place for bicyclists. Breathe in the fresh salt air and peddle along the shore, too. 

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For an excellent hike that takes about four hours, consider the Welch-Dickey. Part of the Appalachian Trail, it is accessed via Orris Road in Waterville Valley. The ledges and scenery make for beautiful views. This is perfect for intermediate or better hikers. A bathroom facility at the information booth means it’s worth a stop before beginning your hike, as you won’t find one on the trail.

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A beginner’s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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