Heidi Duncanson | Communications Coordinator
As cold weather sets in on the coast, things quiet down here at Odiorne Point State Park, making it the perfect time for local residents to come and explore. During the off season, the park is open from dawn to dusk, offering great opportunities for winter recreation.
Odiorne Point State Park is surprisingly large—135 acres—and is comprised of 7 distinctly different natural habitats, including sandy and rocky beaches, fresh and salt ponds, unplands and woodlands, and salt marsh. There are both paved and dirt trails crisscrossing the park, starting at the southern end by the park entrance through to the northern tip by Berry’s Brook and the boat launch.
Hiking through the park in winter offers a unique opportunity to see the World War II artifacts and cultural history points with no leaves or underbrush to block your view. You can admire the crashing surf from the top of the remaining military bunkers, or traverse the Columbus Road path down to the monument honoring the first English settlers in New Hampshire. You can also find the remnants of a fisherman’s shack, and a stone fountain that decorated the front entry of a summer home demolished during the military years.
The trails can also be used for cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing, though of course you can blaze your own trail once snow is covering the ground.
Winter birding is very popular in the park, where you are likely to encounter stalwart New England species like blue jays, chickadees and red-tailed hawks, as well as occasional snowy owls and other winter visitors. As far as wildlife is concerned, if you visit closer to dawn or dusk, you are likely to encounter year-round residents like white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, and rabbits. Keep an eye to the ground to watch for tracks or scat that will tell you what animals are active in the area.
You can even explore the tide pools on the shore during the winter. You will not find as many species as you would in warmer weather but you will still be able to find crabs, sea snails, and other small creatures. Be sure to wear sturdy waterproof boots as you may have to venture out a little further to find sea creatures in winter.