Location and Recreation

Location

Azalea Park is located on the Currier & Ives Scenic Byway off Routes 202/9 in Henniker, NH. Follow signs to downtown.

The main entrance to Azalea Park is located behind Grange Hall, 21 Western Avenue (right at the blinking light, then a left just before the brick library). Parking is available here and on the street nearby. Additional parking is available at in the municipal lot off Bridge Street (after the blinking light on the left). If on foot, there is an additional entrance from the north end of New England College’s pedestrian covered bridge.

Recreation

Azalea Park and its adjoining trails provide some of the most scenic views of the Contoocook River in the state. The Park offers a lovely natural woodland setting that is great for picnicking or an after-dinner stroll along the river. While we hope to be able to improve the Riverwalk and restore opportunities for boating, swimming and fishing, the park currently provides access to numerous recreational trails of various lengths and difficulty. Access points for these trails are referenced along the Three Bridges Loop Walk shown on the Park map. A QR code is available on the Park brochure to scan with your smart phone should you prefer to take a digital map with you.

Trails or locations specific to recreation type are listed below; however we highly recommend the following local resources which provide more detailed trail descriptions as well as information about our local history, culture and ecology:

The Rotary Outdoor Guide to Henniker & Hillsborough provides descriptions for all-season recreation opportunities in Henniker and Hillsboro. This outstanding guide is readily available from several businesses in downtown Henniker. Recreational activities are organized by type with directions and detailed trail descriptions provided.

Henniker’s Open Space Trail System Map provides a town wide view of the various trails and types available.  This map is helpful when combined with the Rotary Outdoor Guide.

New England College’s extensive trail system provides for running, walking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, ATV and other outdoor activities. Some of their trails are listed in the Rotary Outdoor Guide (trail #16, p18 and 30, link above).

The Henniker Historical Society & Museum is an outstanding source for pictures, postcards and poetry inspired by Azalea Park and the Contoocook River.

For a variety of information about the Contoocook River Watershed in Henniker, do not miss the John Stark Regional High School Environmental Studies Project Blog and how Henniker Community School fifth graders work with the Army Corps of Engineers on a Contoocook River Study.

The Currier & Ives Scenic Byway web site offers area and cultural information and various maps including Public Water Access Points on their Along the Byway page.

The 10,000 acre USACR Hopkinton-Everett Lakes Project provides many recreational opportunities for visitors to Henniker. The boundary of the Hopkinton Lake portion of this project is south of the Edna Dean Proctor Granite Bridge and runs east along the Contoocook River. Trails adjacent to both ends of Ramsdell Bridge provide linkage into the Project. The Hopkinton Lake Recreation Map and Contoocook’s Elm Brook Park Map as well as Rules and Regulations are available on this website.

Walking and Hiking

Azalea Park connects to many walking and hiking trails of various lengths and difficulty. Access points for these trails and are referenced on the Park map along the Three Bridges Loop Walk which begins and ends at the Park. References are provided to trail descriptions in the Rotary Outdoor Guide (ROG).

Walks

Three Bridges Loop Walk, (Park Map; ROG, p 11, begin at Azalea Park instead);
Soccer Fields to Ramsdell Bridge Trail (ROG, p 12 (#2), do in reverse from NE corner of Ramsdell Bridge) Snowmobile Trail along Old Railroad bed at SW corner of Ramsdell  Bridge

Hikes

New England College Trails (Park Map; ROG, trail #16, p 18 and 30?, begin and end at Azalea Park instead)

Street Cycling & Mountain Biking

In addition to trails upon the old railroad beds accessible from the Park, Henniker offers many scenic country roads and class 6 roads (unpaved) for cyclists and mountain bikers.

Henniker Town Loop (ROG p 27)
Henniker-Bradford-Warner-Contoocook Loop (ROG p27)
Mountain Bike variation to above (ROG, p27)
Henniker to Sunapee (ROG, p27)
Henniker-Hillsboro Loop (ROG, p28)
New England College Mountain Bike trails

NH DOT Bicycle Map for Merrimack Valley 

Swimming

Currently Henniker does not have a public swimming area for residents and visitors. However if the community is able to raise funds to restore the erosion and install a series of natural stone weirs along the Park’s section of the Contoocook River where the two historic boat docks once existed, a beautiful and safe swimming environment would be restored to the town. The existing riverbanks and remaining infrastructure from the historic docks have been undercut by the river and are now unsafe to use.

Kayaking & Canoeing

The undercut banks at the boat dock area of Azalea Park make it currently unsafe to use. We hope to restore boating access as part of our bank restoration project because just upstream of Azalea Park are some of the best Class III and IV rapids in the state that regularly attract visitors from all over New England. A kayak workshop is offered by AMC every spring in Henniker.

In the meantime, current boating access points are:

Southwest of Downtown

  1. From the blinking light, travel west on Western Avenue 1.5 miles (toward Hillsborough), at the base of Patterson Hill, between the double steel bridges (western bank);
  2. Farther up along Western Avenue, look for the Conservation Commission’s access sign on the right.

East of Downtown

  1. At the Army Corp’s parking/ picnicking area along the southeast end of Ramsdell Road Bridge. There is a 1 ½ hour ‘quiet water’ ride to River Road Boat launch (below);
  2. River Road Boat Launch (from the blinking light, follow Bridge St./ Route114 for 2.9 miles, take a left on River Road) (ROG, p20)

The Currier & Ives Scenic Byway provides a map of these two points.
 

Special Events

Be sure to check in with NH AMC Paddlers for events occurring along the Contoocook River in Henniker. AMC typically runs the famous ‘freight train rapids’ every spring.

Fishing

As part of the bank restoration we hope to provide access for fishing at Azalea Park. In the meantime, locals fish above and below the Ramsdell Bridge as well as in the restricted fly fishing area in the rapids between Henniker and Hillsborough (see ROG, # 8, p 26).

Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

Azalea Park can be used to access the many ski trails available at NEC. Some also use a portion of the Three Bridges Look Walk trail to access the groomed snow mobile trails at Ramsdell Bridge. See the Rotary Outdoor Guide, p 30.