Saturday, June 29, 2019

Pickering Ponds Loop - Easy Nature Trail in Rochester, NH

Pickering Ponds is an easy 1.7 mile loop trail located in Gonic, NH. 
Just down the street from me (literally) is a little trail called Pickering Ponds.  I haven't blogged about it before because like so many, I fall into the trap of whatever's further and more exotic, is better.  Not true at all!  This 1.7 mile easy loop trail is perfect for nature lovers, families, and dog walkers.   On a warm sunny day, I popped my 15 month old in a pack and met another momma, Jen, for a pack walk around the ponds and Cocheco river.  We were treated to sunshine, water views, and wildlife including - great blue heron, turtles, and waterfowl.

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Pickering Ponds Loop Trail

Unmarked road to trail head can be tricky to spot.
Getting There:  Pickering Ponds is (not surprisingly) located on Pickering Road in the Gonic area of Rochester, NH.  To get there from Dover, take 6th street toward Rochester.  Once you cross the town line into Rochester the street name changes to Pickering Road.  After you pass England Road (on right) keep a lookout for the pullout on the left.  It is not marked - but is a long paved driveway/road with a chain link fence at the end (see image to the left).  For navigation systems, it is opposite the house at 374 Pickering Road in Gonic.  Park along the "driveway" leading up to the fence. There is a prominent "No Hunting" sign.

Complete trail map available at
Trail: The trail starts by entering through a large chain linked fence at the end of the driveway.  You will immediately get views of the ponds.  Jen and I started by walking north along Beaver Dam Road (see map).  This takes you along two large ponds.  I'm told they were originally planned as waste management ponds but have never been used for that purpose.  As a result, it's a favorite spot for bird lovers and you'll see many wildlife photographers if you frequent the ponds.

At the end of the ponds, we turned left along the fence and headed down into the Cocheco River Loop Trail.  This portion traverses through hardwood forest along the river.  It continues to be a wide and relatively flat trail.  This trail curves along the river and will eventually bring you back out to the ponds where you started.  Total - the wide loop is about 1.7 miles.

Hikers can easily shorted this adventure by just doing the ponds and skipping the river walk.

Jen and son checking out a turtle

Beautiful birch trees along wide flat trail
Difficulty: Easy

Distance:  1.7 mile loop with options for shorter


- Spring and early summer this area can get very buggy.  We used bug spray for us and the kids.

- This trail is great for kids because it's easy.  It's also great for parents because it's relatively flat and wide which means, even though it's not paved, I'd say it is "stroller friendly".

- There are no bathroom facilities at the trail.

- Dogs are allowed but should be leashed.

- Parking is free.

- City of Rochester and Rochester Rec manage this property.  The government link to this trail is HERE.
Moms and kids at Pickering Ponds
Selfie with the kids at Pickering Ponds

We enjoyed our nature walk with our little ones.  I'll continue to try to focus on some local Seacoast gems in addition to "far away" destinations.

You might also enjoy these similar adventures:

- Hanson Pines Nature Walk in Rochester, NH

- Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland, NH

- Wiland Pond Nature Walk in Dover, NH