I had an opportunity to speak with Chris Gamache, Chief of the New Hampshire Trails Bureau, on May 23, 2006, and to ask many of the questions that are bound to be on ATVers' minds as they await the park's debut.
When will Jericho Lake State Park open?
"We hope to open with some limited riding opportunities this summer, hopefully sometime in the latter half of July," Gamache told me.
Where is Jericho Lake State Park?
The entrance to the ATV park will be located on Jericho Lake Road, off New Hampshire Route 110, in the city of Berlin. Berlin is located 45 minutes north of North Conway, New Hampshire, and just over a half-hour west of Bethel, Maine. The driving time from Boston is about 3 hours and 20 minutes.
What is the park entrance fee?
Gamache said access fees for Jericho Lake State Park have not yet been determined, although he expects a decision by the end of June. There is a chance that fees will be waived during 2006, as the park will only offer limited riding opportunities. In the future, however, it is likely that an admission fee will be charged.
What is the long-range plan for the ATV park?
"Ideally, within a number of years, an extensive trails system would be completed with various levels of trails and support facilities," Gamache said, projecting that 150 to 200 miles of riding opportunity will be created within four to five years. Centered around Jericho Lake, a former Berlin city park, the new state park will eventually feature a campground, day use beach, bathhouses and restrooms, and a training center for riding and safety education, he said.
Jericho Lake State Park will eventually be a year-round, multiple-use facility. Snowmobile trails currently cross the property, which abuts the White Mountain National Forest, and cross-country skiing trails will also be available. "There will be a lot to do year-round," Gamache said.
How was land for the park acquired?
Gamache explained that the majority of the property7,200 acreswas purchased by the state of New Hampshire from private owners; some will retain logging rights to the property for a period of time. The 300-acre parcel that includes Jericho Lake will be gifted to the state by the City of Berlin in a transaction that is close to completion. Development of Jericho Lake State Park will be "an economic catalyst for the city and the region as a whole," he said.
Is there anything else like this in New Hampshire?
While there are about 600 miles of designated ATV trails in the state that are open to the public, Gamache said that Jericho Lake State Park will be the largest land area in New Hampshire dedicated permanently to All Terrain Vehicles. "We certainly have seen an incredible demand for public riding areas for All Terrain Vehicles," he said. Rather than encouraging mixed use of public lands, Gamache said the state legislature and conservation organizations supported the development of a dedicated ATV park.
Where can I learn more about Jericho Lake State Park and the Berlin area?
Gamache said that updates on development of the ATV Park will be available at the New Hampshire Trails Bureau Web site. For information about visiting Berlin, call the Northern White Mountain Chamber of Commerce at (603)-752-6060 or toll free, 800 992-7480, or visit their Web site for information on lodging, camping, dining and more.