A City Oasis
Ashuelot River Park is a beautifully landscaped 157-acre oasis in downtown Keene, New Hampshire. The park is a great place to relax, recharge and of course, to photograph.
The Ashuelot River was first dammed here in 1775 to create a mill pond, supplying power for manufacturing. The River Park was established on reclaimed mill property in the 1960s. It lies along the Ashuelot River, next to busy West Street, and features beautifully maintained park grounds as well as a hiking path which extends north along the river, eventually connecting to the Keene bike path.
Over the years the park has been expanded and improved with a combination of public and private funds. It was freshly landscaped in 1996 and is maintained in remarkable condition through the collaborative efforts of the city and many volunteers.
The main park, next to West Street, is both beautiful and functional. Crisscrossing paths are lined with lovely flower beds, just waiting for your macro lens. Visitors can relax in the gazebo or on benches and picnic tables scattered along the trails.
In addition to the trails there is a large central open space, great for Frisbee, touch football, Yoga Classes or just laying on the luxuriant grass soaking up the sun. The park is dog friendly, with facilities to help owners keep the trails clean.
Photographically, one of the most interesting features of the park is the old mill dam and waterfall that spans the Ashuelot. The falls can be enjoyed from the main park or from across the river. An interesting suspension foot bridge provides access to the west side of the river, where trails explore wildlife-rich wetlands. The area provides refuge for many varieties of birds, including the Blue Heron that I found this week patrolling the water below the mill falls. The trail going north along the Ashuelot is popular among walkers, joggers and bikers. It is an easy 1.75 mile stroll, up and back, that features natural vistas across the river that belies its location close to residential neighborhoods. Spring is a great time to visit the park, but each season has its own special attractions. In the winter the trails are a great place for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Art in the Park
For years the Park has been the location of the Annual Art in the Park art show, when artists from all over the region set up their 10×10 pop-up tents to display, and hopefully sell their work. The show is run by the Monadnock Area Artists Association and is scheduled this year for the weekend of August 31-September 1. In good weather and bad (rarely) the show is a great chance to stroll through the park and enjoy wonderful and varied art. I only do one outdoor art festival a year and it is always Art in the Park. Come check it out.
Ashuelot River Park is a great place for a long exploration of nature or just for a quick escape from the city. It is easily accessible. Heading west from Keene’s Central Square along West Street it is across from the Colony Mill. Just pull into the parking lot and in the summer you can grab some ice cream on the way in from the truck stationed at the entrance.
For more images from the park check out my Photo Album on my Getting it Right in the Digital Camera Blog.
See you there.
~ Jeffrey Newcomer