Walk With Kids - Odiorne State Park, Rye NH
Odiorne State Park
In addition to Fort Rock being a favorite place of ours, Odiorne is another place close to our hearts. We visit many times a year. It is a very tranquil place. When we go, we usually pack our lunches because we end up staying a large part of our day. It was great when the kids were very small, and it continues to fit us.
Odiorne State Park is rich with history. It was once visited by the Native Americans, a homestead of the Odiorne's, and then purchased by the Federal Government and name Fort Dearborn during World War II. Then the time came when it was surplus property and sold to the State of New Hampshire. For more in depth history, click here.
There are a few different aspects we love about it. The first is the walking trails. Here is a trail map. All the trails are bordered by Route 1A, main parking area, boat launch parking area, and the atlantic ocean. So it is pretty safe to say that you cannot get lost in here which is one of the things that made it so great. A lot of times we tell the kids where to go, which trail to take and so on. In these trails, many of which are unmapped, you can let the kids decide where to go without any fear.
You can be going along the trails and come across and old bunker, or stone foundation. It's also a good history lesson. If you do go into these bunkers be aware that there may be broken glass from teenagers, and there is graffiti, so if you child can read but they are still young you may want to let them just look from the outside.
Most of the trails are pretty level unless you choose to walk to the top of the hills. Along the water over by the boat launch parking is a nice sandy beach where a lot of boats will drop their anchor and enjoy the beach and water. There is also a large rock jetty that you can walk out on but I do recomment proper footwear because there are some large gaps here and there. Many people like to fish off of this jetty. Across the water you can see the Wentworth By The Sea Hotel. Also across the water you can see the Whaleback Lighthouse.
If your children aren't too happy taking a nice long walk, there is always the promise of being able to play at the playground which is adjacent to the main parking area. The playground is suitable for small children and young children both. There are some nice shade trees, and some picnic tables which make it a great place to stop. The restrooms are located right next to the playground and they are only open seasonally.
If you go past the playground there is a large tide pool area. If your children love to search for Periwinkles, shrimp, and crabs, take some time here as well. We love to sift through the tiny rocks on shore looking for small fragments of sea glass. You can go in the water here but if you do I highly recommend wearing water shoes because it is very rocky. There are parts that are covered in green seaweed, be carefull, even if they are dry, they are very slippery. I know from experience even after being told!
Biking is just as good here. On the map you see a larger dotted line that follows the contour of the road. It is paved and there is one hill that might be harder for small children going towards the main parking area. What we loved about this path was it was always safe and separated from the roadway so we could give our children some freedom. If there are ready for a little harder of a route you can also bike on all the walking paths. My daughter was always very fond of one rock that would give her a "bump".
This winter was the first time we ever visited in the winter time. We took our snowshoes out for a try and we loved it. There are wet areas that are not very accesible durring the summer months. It was a great workout. I thought that it might be scarce with people but actually there were a number of people and families who were snowshoeing and cross county skiing but it wasn't overcrowded, and the trail was packed down which made it easier for the kids.
Also on the property is the Seacoast Science Center. My kids have had field trips here too. It is nice for elementary school aged children. I think my kids loved the touch tank the best.
To get into the park there is a booth to pay for parking in the main lot, and a donation box in the boat launch parking. Neither of these fees cover the admission to the Science Center. During the off months there is no fee to park. As with most recreational areas, the park is only open during the day.
Because there is a lot of wet areas, the mosquitos can be a pest on the walking trails so bring your bug spray. We have found that the almost constant gentle breeze at the playground keeps most of them away. There is some poison ivy on the property so just be mindful what vegetation you let your children touch. If I remember correctly, this is a carry in carry out park, and dogs are not allowed.
This is a great place to go regardless of the season. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!
Until next time, have fun out there!