Update 8/12/2020 – After posting this story and recipe, my sister texted and said she wanted to make it. So she used my recipe and made a few further tweaks. Plus added some additional vegan options. I’ve used two of her photos, and am happy to hear that she also thinks this is “Very, very good!” She was inspired to try something new AND make a recipe that required a bit of freedom (my instructions don’t specify the number of peaches, and I tend to say “a pinch of this, a handful of that.”
Today’s hike was a revisit to one of the hikes featured in my blog written in 2009/2010, 52b452.blogspot.com. As I’ve mentioned before, back then we were usually hiking off season, and in the case of Odiorne Point State Park, we’d combined it with two other parks that day! Busy women we were! It’s been over 10 years since we were there, but if anything the park has gotten better with time! Today was a cloudy day, but definitely warmer than that visit long ago. I tried to keep this post fairly close to what I’d written back then, but have provided updates where needed. And as I type, there is Blueberry Peach Crumble bubbling away in the oven! Yummmm.
Odiorne State Park – Military Buildings, Rocky Beaches, and Lighthouses!
- Tucker’s Rating – 2.5 wags for Odiorne Point (In 2020 we upgraded to a 3 since we found places for rest and picnicking, but dogs aren’t allowed so….). A lot of the trails run through some interesting woods, and there’s a very nice beach.
- The humans gave Odiorne Point 3.5 wags…. Our first visit was in a cold and windy November, at high tide. So the beach (which we didn’t get back to today) was no doubt bigger today at low tide.
- Pet Friendly – No. State Parks do not allow dogs on Historic sites or beaches.
- Price – Free in the off-season for all. There has always been a fee for Odiorne Point State Park, and in the time of COVID, you have to purchase a reservation ($4 per person) ahead of time on their website. They do check id and look at your pass when you enter. Masks are required in shared areas and we saw a mix of people wearing them on the trails and not wearing them.
- Accessibility – It’s accessible to picnic tables, and Odiorne Point has paved biking trails which would be fine for a wheelchair, walker, or stroller, but that’s just a path through a treed area next to the road. To get to the beach you’d be pushing or wheeling over rocks, roots, and narrow trails. The beach itself is wide and open when the tide is out. There are many remnants of the time this park was actually a military base.
- Special Notes – Odiorne Point has a great boat put-in for motorized and paddle type boats at the first, smaller parking area. When we visited in 2009, this is the entrance we used. The tide was out when we were there and the creek that leads out into Little Harbor didn’t look deep enough for a regular boat, but if you time it right it seems that is a definite option. Portsmouth Kayak is not too far away and they do rentals although you’d need to check their site for prices, etc. The Seacoast Science Center is also nearby, actually in the middle of the park itself, and in 2020 they were setting up for an outdoor event.
And back to 2009, with sandwiches and pumpkin poppers in hand, we drove on to Odiorne Point. Plenty of parking, a great boat put-in (paved and sloped to the river), and very clearly marked trails greeted us. Back in 2009 there were no maps or brochures, in 2020 we found no signs for trails, but we did have the ability to download a map to the park, so we managed on both visits to find our way around. We sat in the sunshine and admired the golden colors of the marsh and Witch Creek as we ate. Then we set off towards Little Harbor.
The walking trails are NOT flat. There are a lot of roots, narrow sections, rocks, and brush. Very peaceful and remote, and if you follow the bridge along the marsh, the trail takes you to the beach. Not your typical sandy beach, although it is sand. Large rocks, seaweed, and a beautiful view of Wentworth-by-the-Sea and the golf course across the water. That golf course is where I played my first full round of golf and won the women’s putting contest! The day we were there was changeably cloudy…. First bright sun, then very dark clouds, and occasionally the sun would be shining on the hotel while we sat in the shadow of those clouds so it made the hotel appear to glow across the water. Really beautiful.
Walking down to the point
We wandered down to the point, alternating between the beach and the trail that ran through the woods. Lots of bittersweet strung across the bushes, and we came across an old stone fireplace at one point. Not certain if it had originally been in a waterfront home, or had always been an outdoor spot. We also found a fox hole. Or that’s what we think it was, on the dunes. I can’t imagine a fox at the beach, but the only other explanation is that the clam worms we read about (there’s a sign at the end of the point) that are supposedly 3 feet long and live in burrows in the beach, actually need a rather large opening to their burrow! I tried to get close to peer in but Beth would have NONE of it! I guess she just imagined some rabid fox or mutant clam worm coming out to attack!
Changes have happened since 2009!
Since that visit in 2009, the second parking area has been enlarged, there are multiple picnic tables, military building remnants, and a great public restroom. While this isn’t really a beach, we saw plenty of people unloaded sand toys, kids, chairs, blankets, etc. Unfortunately for them, shortly after we left the beach (around 10 am) to head home (because it was getting crowded), the clouds overhead reared up and rained buckets. We sat outside at the nearby Native Coffee & Kitchen to enjoy some delicious homemade bagels, English muffins, and coffee!
A lighthouse in the distance and graffiti
The point looks out over open ocean all the way to Isles of Shoals and we could see a lighthouse. We knew it was our next stop, Fort Stark. We continued around the point, partly on the paved bike trails, and walked past more abandoned buildings that reminded me of the cinder block booths that used to greet us at the local drive-in (now I’m dating AND regionalizing myself!). Memories of dancing popcorn boxes and Father Time counting down the minutes to “showtime” danced in my head. At one point we walked along the trail beside what MIGHT have been an old bunker. There were periodic cement underpasses with doors that look like they’ve been locked for a very long time. All these years later, these bunker-esque style buildings featured amazing graffiti, and in some cases, large granite blocks had been installed to block the doors.
Hiking in the off-season
This is a very strange park to walk through the offseason. Lots of things to explore and just past the height of foliage season we were struck by how golden and green everything seemed. It would be a great place for kids to run around in. The park itself is flat, but the trails aren’t stroller or walker-friendly, and once you’re in the woods, you need a good sense of direction to know which direction to walk in. But we do believe that all paths lead back to the parking lot (unless you find yourself walking UNDER the road, in which case you’re on your own!).
The first baby born to European Settlers
We read the historic marker to discover that Odiorne Point was actually an old settlement and the site of the first baby being born to European settlers in NH. The settlement included fishermen, coopers, farmers, and more. Most of the buildings are long gone, but as mentioned, we did come across various remnants, so we considered this an interesting park. I can’t imagine how busy it would be in the summer, but definitely, if you’re looking for a rustic beach on protected waters (no real waves to worry about) this would be a good one. But the parking lot isn’t huge, so get there early. At this time of year though, there’s room for all! The Seacoast Science Center is also nearby and is another great place to stop. Probably something we’ll do next time we go!
2020 Note: Thankfully parking has been enlarged since that last visit in 2009. In fact, there is one lot near the boat put-in which is along the creek and gives you quick access to the beach. The larger lot, just past the Science Center is removed from the water, but just a 5-minute walk or so, and has plenty of picnic tables scattered around, some beautiful flowers, and random trails that lead you up onto dunes of rock and shell. A great place for kids to play, and adults to sit and enjoy some peace.
Before we headed out this morning, I noticed that the fresh peaches we purchased when we went blueberry picking this week had already started to look a bit too ripe. So we also ended our day by making a vegan Blueberry Peach Crumble over an oat and walnut crust. I can smell it cooking as I type.
Blueberry Peach Crumble
Ingredients for the crust:
- 1/2 cup shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup instant oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3 1/2 TB coconut oil (or earth balance baking sticks)
- pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2 cups rinsed and dried blueberries
- 5 or 6 peeled and sliced peaches (depending on size)
- 1 TB maple syrup (or agave syrup)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
- Lightly grease the inside of a 9″ springform pan with coconut oil
- Pour crust ingredients into the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and it clumps together.
- Set aside a half cup or so of the oat mixture for topping, then press the remaining into the pan, cupping it up the sides about 1 inch. It should stick together fairly easily, if not, add a bit more coconut oil. Once spread in your pan, set aside
- Select 8 nice slices of peach and a small handful of berries to use as a topping on your crumble
- Stir the fruit, maple syrup and flour until combined
- Pour into the crust crust. It shouldn’t go above the edges of the crust.
- Sprinkle the oat mixture you set aside over the top of the filling, then decorate with reserved peaches and blueberries.
- Bake for 45 minutes, checking at the half hour point to make sure the fruit isn’t burning. If it seems to be browning too fast, cover with foil. I needed an extra 10 minutes of baking for mine because the filling was too loose. Those peaches and blueberries were JUICY!!
- Remove from oven and allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight to set (if you can wait!).
- Serve with dairy-free whipped cream for a delicious vegan treat! Enjoy!
As with my other 52b452 posts, this one is dedicated to Ed (Beth’s father) and Tucker (our corgi). Tucker wasn’t able to come with us that day, he stayed home with “grandma” and Ed was in the hospital at this point, just past his brain surgery and wishing he could come home. In fact, at one point as we stood on the beach back then, Beth’s mobile phone rang and it was Ed asking what we were doing. He was happy to hear we were getting out to enjoy some time on our own. These hikes gave us something else to do between visiting nursing homes, hospitals, chemo and radiation treatment and all the stress that came with it. I’m grateful we were able to provide support for our parents, but also grateful that we had places to go to get away from the stress, and inhale the peace of so many beautiful locations. We miss both Ed, and my mother Lillian as well as our corgi, Tucker, who used to accompany us on so many of these walks.