Monday, July 3, 2023

Four Days in Northern New Hampshire: Family, Friends Hiking, Paddling, Camping, and Moose Sighting.

 Kick up your feet, and enjoy how family and friends bond in the great north woods of New Hampshire. My 18-year-old nephew Nolan recently graduated from high school. To celebrate Nolan’s academic achievement, my wife Cathy and I planned a wilderness trip to the “Live Free or Die” outdoors of the New Hampshire Great North Woods, camping at Lake Francis State Park in Pittsburg, NH.

The Pittsburg–Chartierville Border Crossing connects the towns of Chartierville, Quebec, and Pittsburg, New Hampshire. The crossing can be reached by U.S. Route 3 on the American side and by Quebec Route 257 on the Canadian side. The last 18 miles to the Canadian border on the American side is the so-called Moose Alley because of its large moose population. The Great North Woods is located in Coos County.

In addition to Nolan and myself, our fellow trekkers included Nolan's dad (and my brother-in-law) Ron, my sons Timothy and Shaun, and our friends Dundee and Paul.

This four-day trip includes:
 (1) Tenting in Lake Francis State Park in the Connecticut Lakes area in Pittsburg, NH.

 (2) Two successful moose sightings on 18-mile Moose Alley (Route 3) 
 (3) A hike to and around the 4th Connecticut Lake, which is located on the Canada-US border and serves as the headwater of the 410-mile long Connecticut River. 

(4) Swimming, canoeing, and kayaking in Lake Francis. The above photo shows our camp activities including balancing two golf balls on top of each other.  
(5) Paddle East Inlet 
(6) A campsite life composed of:
    1. Setting up a tent site 
    2. Learning to start our campfire with flint and steel (yup, no matches) 

Nolan uses kindling, flint, and steel (his pocket knife), and creates a spark for our dinner campfire.

(7) Cooking breakfast and dinner over an open campfire – including cleaning up the utensils used
(8) Hidden deep within the American and Canadian archives lays the fascinating story of the Indian Stream Republic. Tim was gracious to locate a copy of a magazine article for us and he read it during an evening campsite dinner.
Map of Republic of Indian Stream (1832 -  1836)
Yielding to New Hampshire 1836
1842 Part of Pittsburg, NH

 Steve narrates a historical summary in this video from our tour of the Indian Stream Bridge, one of the sixteen distinct Indian Stream sites.  Enjoy.  

 (9) Sharing campsite games and chat. Playing Jenga is a game of physical skill created by a British board game designer. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks.

The Moose of New Hampshire 
Nolan had never seen a moose. His older sister, despite being in the moose habitat, had never seen a moose, leading her to jest that perhaps moose were merely figments of others' imaginations. One of my goals for this trip was to find a moose for Nolan to see. Indeed, we saw a moose during our “drive slowly along a road and keep an eye open for parked cards.” Our first night in the Great North Woods, as well as the second night, showed this technique worked as documented in this video.

Moose of New Hampshire
(References for the below moose discussion are provided below)
Moose are found in the northern regions of the United States and throughout Canada, and into Alaska. Due to their large size and insulating fur, moose are limited to cold climates. Forested areas with streams and ponds are ideal moose habitats. More than half of the moose (3,000 out of 5,000) and bear (13,500 out of 25,000) populations in New Hampshire are found in Coös County..

In recent years, moose numbers have declined across New Hampshire as moose are increasingly under stress from climate change. Wildlife biologists are concerned that shorter winters are allowing winter tick numbers to increase in areas of higher moose density. Winter ticks survive on the blood of animals, particularly moose; thus ticks and climate are held accountable for New Hampshire’s decreasing moose population.

While moose tolerate cold very well, they suffer from heat. In summer, especially during fly season, moose often cool off in water for several hours each day. In fact, moose are quite at home in the water. They sometimes dive 18 feet or more for plants growing on a lake bottom. Moose have been known to swim 12 miles. A moose calf is able to follow its mother on a long swim even while very young, occasionally resting its muzzle on the cow’s back for support.

In fact, moose can swim faster than most people can paddle a canoe.

Unique Moose Characteristics 1 of 2 

Unique Moose Characteristics 2 of 2

Hiking to the Fourth Connecticut Lake and Headwaters of Connecticut River

The Fourth Connecticut Lake, located up on a hill on the Canadian border is not as well known because it is not visible from the road. This little marshy pond is the true source of the Connecticut River.Directions: Route 3 North, 22 miles past Pittsburg village to the US/Canada border. Park across the road from the U.S. Customs station. The trail begins on the same side as the Customs station, about 50 yards on the right of the building. There's a small kiosk at the trailhead.

From a small trickle to a mighty river

The Fourth Connecticut Lake is a protected nature preserve located on the U.S. side of the U.S./Canadian border. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement that safeguards the 78-acre preserve and the surrounding forest. The lake itself resembles a small bog, but it is more accurately a northern acidic mountain tarn — a small glacial pond. The small brook flowing from the pond is the start of the 410-mile Connecticut River. Just as you can step back and forth between Canada and the United States while climbing to the lake, you can step back and forth across the Connecticut River at its humble beginning at Fourth Lake.

A short, moderately steep climb takes you to the pond. The trailhead is located just behind the U.S. Border Guard installation. Limited parking is located immediately south of the guard station. Hikers do not have to check in with border guards before accessing the trailhead.

The trail is made up of granite boulders at certain spots, which can be wet and/or icy. It’s wise to pay attention to your footing. The hike to Fourth Lake is .6 miles. Once there, you’ll see trail markers for Loop Pond, a beautiful trail that circles Fourth Lake and brings you to the spot where the Connecticut River begins. Round trip, the hike, including the Loop Pond trail, is 1.7 miles and takes about two hours.

The forest is predominately balsam fir and delightfully fragrant. You’ll also find red spruce, paper birch, and mountain ash. The edge of the pond is made up of a floating bog of mosses, sedges, grasses and insectivorous plants like pitcher plant. Look for wildflowers at the southern end of the pond. The pond supports a small year-round fish population, river otter and beaver. Other wildlife includes moose, white-tailed deer, black bear, spruce goose, and three-toed woodpeckers.

Because this is a conservation area, no dogs are allowed and there is no hunting, trapping or fishing.

Fourth Connecticut Lake Vital Statistics

Surface Elevation

2,670 feet


2.5 acres


There are two outflows. Beaver activity determines which outflow becomes the Connecticut River


22 miles north of Pittsburg off Route 3, at the U.S./Canadian border

Average depth

Between 2 and 4 feet

Maximum depth

5 feet

Did You Know?

The Connecticut River impacts four states — New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut — and feeds a series of large, cold-water lakes. It flows out to sea at Long Island Sound. The waterway has been an essential part of New England’s economy, used for transportation, log drives, a power source for mills, farming and recreation.


My son, Shaun, has a blog titled CloserQ. Here he presents his unique perspective of our NH Great North Woods adventures. 



3.New Hampshire Fish and Game: Moose

4. Canadian Wildlife Federation: Moose

5. Republic of Indian Stream

6. Pittsburg NH - Republic of Indian Stream - once a Country

7. TouringNH:  Pittsburg by  Laura Mahoney

8. NH Family Hikes
8. Fourth Connecticult Lake


"Everyone must do something. I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends" S. Priest

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