Located in the central portion of New Hampshire along Route 4A near the town of Wilmont, the Gardner Memorial Wayside Park provides a popular scenic picnic spot with nearby outdoor activities. It is part of the 6,675 Gile State Forest and was established as a memorial to Walter C. Gardner, II. The park sits alongside a scenic brook that was once the location of a mill in the 1800’s. It is open year round and there are no fees for entry or use of the picnic area. The amenities included in the park are bathrooms, picnic tables and a parking lot.
Although the Gardner Memorial Wayside Park is relatively small in size, it provides a convenient spot for enjoying activities in the surrounding State forest. Hiking, skiing, unsupervised swimming, biking, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching opportunities can be found within very short distances from the wayside. An easy half-mile trail leads from the park to Butterfield Pond and the nearby 100 acre Kolelomook Pond. Numerous access points to the extensive hiking and skiing trails that meander throughout area can be found both within walking distance of the park and along Route 4A.
The area is dominated by forests of northern hardwoods that include sugar maples, beech, balsam fir and yellow birch trees. The forest grounds contain a wide variety of wildflowers that include baby’s breath, trefoil, foxglove, lilac and phlox. Numerous bogs and swamps can also be found the trails. Because the landscape is mountainous, the terrain of the trails can change from being easy to strenuous within very short distances. Most are extremely muddy in the early spring months and icy in the winter. Due to the dense growth of hardwood trees, fall brings a large influx of visitors to the area for enjoying the spectacular colors of the changing leaves. Average temperatures range from 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to 19 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.
There are large populations of animals and birds throughout the forests. Some of the common animals to be seen are deer, moose, black bear, raccoons, fox, otter and beaver. Many songbirds can also be seen and heard including thrushes, warblers, wood ducks, vireos, mergansers and scarlet tanagers. Numerous types of fish inhabit the area ponds including small mouth bass, pickerel and brown trout. Hunting and fishing are allowed seasonally in most areas of the State forest with proper permits.
There are numerous abandoned roads that cater to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and snowshoers. Along the roads are old mica mines and cellar holes from abandoned homesteads. Because hunting and timber cutting are allowed in most areas, visitors are advised to wear protective vests during hunting seasons and avoid any areas that are being harvested for timber.
Gardner Memorial Wayside Park