New Hampshire's Benson Park Is A Strange Mix Of Nostalgia & Natural Beauty
Benson Park is a 166-acre recreational spot in Hudson, New Hampshire. Once home to "Benson's Wild Animal Farm," it closed down in 1987, and is now maintained by the Department of Public Works with help from a dedicated group of volunteers.
Those looking for a relaxing spot to enjoy the fresh air will find several walking paths around the scenic lake as well as longer trails that meander into the wooded areas.
Depending on the season, you can fish in the lake, enjoy the fall foliage, or simply watch for the many species of birds and local wildlife that frequent the area. A now re-opened playground area features swings, slides, and climbing structures for children to enjoy.
The main hiking trail guides you through the entire park, including several restored buildings and familiar structures reminiscent of the wild animal park days.
At approximately 3.3 miles, it is a great hike for the whole family - including the dog! Not only are pups welcome on the trails at Benson Park, there is also a newly-added dog park where they can run free and mingle with their furry pals.
As you walk you'll come across a strangely out of place structure in the woods - the "shoe house" from the famous Mother Goose fairytale, The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
Next, you'll come to a much more sobering monument, a 9/11 Memorial honoring those who died on the most tragic day in American history. Despite the somber subject, it is a beautiful spot to sit and reflect.
Strangely enough, one of the original features that still remains at Hudson Park is a massive tiger cage from the former zoo. This area now serves as an outdoor concert and festival venue space.
In addition to the tiger cage, you can also visit the former home of Tony, a giant silverback gorilla who spent 20 years at the wild animal park.
After some COVID-19 closures, the playground, dog park, and all walking trails are once again open to the public as well as The Friends of Benson Park Elephant Barn Gift Store which is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Before visiting Benson Park, keep in mind:
- Public spaces are not sanitized
- Use of these areas are at your own risk
- Social distancing and face masks are encouraged
- If you are sick, you are encouraged to stay home