Harrisville, New Hampshire. Roads that meander with the natural curve of rivers, ponds, and lakes. A profusion of trees backlit by sunlight that open to reveal expansive fields and resolute stonewalls. These are the picturesque images that will lead you – no matter which direction you’re coming from – toward the quaint brick village of Harrisville, New Hampshire.
In other words, there is absolutely no direct route from here to there. Which only adds to the town’s charm. Because upon arriving in the historic village center, one can’t help but breathe deeper, walk slower, chat longer, laugh harder, and pause often at watery reflections of leaves, sky, brick, and granite.
Located in the heart of the Monadnock region, off Route 101, Harrisville is comprised of 10 lakes and ponds, a rehabilitated brick and granite mill in a historic district that boasts a traditional New England general store, agricultural farms, a community garden, and, of course, summer farmers market.
In addition, Harrisville hosts a number of highly talented individuals such as photographer Eleanor Briggs, mixed media artist Michelle Aldredge of Gwarlingo, landscape painter Douglas Miller, collage artist Michael Reilly and many more. All of whom rent studio space from Historic Harrisville. Outside the village center, Harrisville is home to photographers, writers, watercolorist, wood carvers – and the delightful creations of Pear Tree Studio,
The rural, yet bustling backdrop of Harrisville is a paradise for children, artists, musicians, hikers, cyclists, residents, summer folks, and visitors of all kinds during the temperate New Hampshire seasons. Leaf peeping, along with the lure of pond hockey, sledding, ice skating and ice fishing, and the warm atmosphere of Harrisville General Store, help make this town a year-round destination.
The Art of Fiber & Wool in Historic Harrisville
Now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Woolen yarn has been spun in the water powered, brick mill town of Harrisville since 1794. In fact, it is the only industrial community of the early 19th Century that still survives in America in its original form. And no one carries on these traditions with more pride, and extensive knowledge, than the good people at Harrisville Designs. The company itself has been spinning 100% Virgin Wool Yarn in Harrisville for the past 40 years. These days, visitors in search of exquisite gifts along with a rich color pallette of weaving, knitting, and felting supplies can visit their Retail Store and Studio at 4 Mill Alley in the village center. Renowned for its year-round classes, interested individuals can check out Harrisville Designs 2016 Worship Schedule.
Locally made in Harrisville
If you’re looking for small, sustainable, family-run farms then Harrisville is a good place to start. Although technically in Dublin, Farmer John’s Plot (and Farm Stand) just off Route 101 on Chesham Road stands at the gateway to Harrisville. Travellers that continue on Chesham road, will quickly come upon a sign for Susan Odwyer’s Farm, known for its homemade cheeses. A bit more intricate to find, but well worth the trip, is Mayfair Farm, a small scale, diversified family farm and kitchen in Harrisville, NH. The Farm Store is open daily, and Mayfair Farm summer pop up dinners are not to be missed during the summer months.
If you’re a foodie seeking something a bit more non traditional, Nuttin Ordinary, created by owner Josh Velasquez in Harrisville, makes 100% plant based cheese spread from organic raw cashews and cultures it with a proprietary probiotic blend. No artificial flavors, colors, or unpronounceable thickeners — just real ingredients.
The Hidden Fishing Spots in and around Harrisville
Ok, so no fisherman worth his salt is going to actually give up their secret fishing spot. But it’s not hard to find one of your own given the abundance of streams, rivers and ponds, which range from the Minnewawa Brook and Nubanusit Brook, Child’s Bog, Harrisville Pond, Silver & Skatutakee Lakes. Not to mention the proximity to Russell Reservoir and Chesham Pond, and the quiet dirt roads that lead to Spoonwood and Nubanusit Lake in Nelson. If you’re not inclined to fish, but prefer to kayak, canoe or quickly cool down on a hot day, many of the boat landings at the aforementioned ponds and lakes will allow you to do just that.
Although Sunset Beach in Harrisville village is for residents only, if you can find a local friend to host you, it’s a lovely spot to be a guest and spend the day with friends.
Rails to Trails (& then some)
The groundwork to transform old rail beds into peaceful paths for individuals, families, day visitors and thru hikers could not have happened without the generous time, and monetary, donations of volunteers past, and present. Visitors entering from Route 101 thru Chesham Road can easily spot the trailhead and parking at the Chesham Depot. A bit less descript, but no less beautiful, is the wooded trail that sits below Skatutakee Lake, and whose parking lot can be found adjacent to a large granite train trestle.
If you’re seeking more dramatic views complete with a waterfall and stunning rock ledges, the Eliza Adams Gorge is a beautiful way to spend some climbing in peaceful solitude or introducing children to the joys of hiking. Part of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail, the moderate 2.2 mile day hike can be accessed via Brown Road in Chesham heading toward Harrisville.
Photo credit: Abel Twitchell