Province Pond Backpacking Trip Plan

Province Pond Backpacking Trip Plan

Province Pond is a picturesque 10-acre backcountry pond with an Appalachian style lean-to on the east side of the White Mountain National Forest, near North Conway, New Hampshire, just south of Evans Notch and the Maine state line. It’s a short and easy hike to the pond and campsite, making it an ideal destination for families, small groups, or couples who want a quiet place to camp without undertaking a huge backpacking trip. On the clear nights, the star-gazing from Province Pond can’t be beat. There’s no light pollution and the large open space above the pond provides an unobstructed view of the heavens and shooting stars. Fall foliage is a particularly beautiful time to visit when the trees and surrounding hillsides have turned a golden yellow, orange, and red.

An Appalachian trail style lean-to has space for 5-6 occupants2
An Appalachian trail style lean-to has space for 5-6 occupants.

While sleeping in the lean-to is an option, there are plenty of spots in the open woods behind the shelter to pitch a tent for the night. The site has an open-air privy with a privacy screen. A bear box is not available so you should hang your food at night or bring a bear canister or Ursack to store it in. The pond holds trout and fishing is permitted with a New Hampshire fishing license.

Here’s a map of the route. This is a georeferenced PDF created using Caltopo. You can navigate with it using an app like Avenza (directions here) or just print it out. Province Pond Shelter backpack

Rating/Difficulty

****/1 (Easy)

Distance/Elevation Gain

1.6 miles with 400 ft of elevation gain (3.2 miles round trip)

Recommended Duration

1 day/night

Season

May thru October

Province Pond has an open air privy with a privacy screen.
Province Pond has an open air privy with a privacy screen.

Permits Required

None.

Regulations

Backcountry Camping Regulations for the White Mountain National Forest.

New to the White Mountains? Read this Quick and Dirty Guide to Backpacking in the White Mountains for information about camping regulations, road access, trail shuttles, lodging, dangerous wildlife, weather, etc.

Trailhead Directions

USFS Province Brook Trailhead

You will find this parking lot at the end of Peaked Hill Road (FS 450) 2.6 miles in from South Chatham Road, north of the eastern terminus of the Hurricane Mountain Road.

Trail Sequence

The route follows the following trails in sequence. Refer to the AMC White Mountains Trail Map 5: Carter Range – Evans Notch (2017 ed),  although I’d recommend buying the complete AMC White Mountain Waterproof Map Set (2017 ed) rather than one map at a time, because it’s less expensive that way. Detailed trail descriptions can also be found in the AMC White Mountain Guide (2017 ed), which is considered the hiking bible for the region. Take photos of the relevant pages using your phone for easy reference, instead of carrying the entire book with you on hikes.

  • Province Brook Trail – 1.6 miles from parking lot to the lean-to and campsite area

Camping and Shelter Options

The interior of the shelter is in good shape although you’ll probably want some kind of bug netting if you sleep inside.On my last visit, I brought along 3 fishing rods
The interior of the shelter is in good shape although you’ll probably want some kind of bug netting if you sleep inside. On my last visit, I brought along 3 fishing rods.

Province Pond has an Appalachian style lean-to that can sleep 5 to 6 people, with a fire grate out front. If you do decide to have a campfire, please limit it to this spot rather than creating a new fire ring.  While there are no prepared or numbered campsites in the open forest behind the shelter, there are plenty of flat spaces where you can set up a tent and enjoy plenty of privacy.

Please observe all White Mountains Backcountry Camping Regulations and leave no trace.

Water

The water source is the pond. The use of a backcountry water filter or purification device is strongly recommended.

On the Trail

There’s a traihead sign at the end of the road and parking area. The trail is blazed in yellow and follows an obvious snowmobile trail, crossing several wooden bridges, as it climbs gradually to the pond’s elevation. When you reach the pond, you’ll see a concrete spillway which is the pond’s outlet. This part of the pond is often quite shallow and a good place to spot frogs or small fish darting around the water’s edge.

The Province Brook Trail is easy to follow.
The Province Brook Trail is easy to follow.

From this point, the trail swings to the right of the pond as it approaches the far side and ends behind the shelter. Depending on the season, parts of the trail may be obscured by trees that have fallen across the trail or leaf litter. Don’t let this deter you. As long as you keep the pond in-sight to your left you’ll arrive safely at the shelter. While the snowmobilers who use the Province Brook Trail perform regular trail maintenance to keep the trail open during the winter months, it is not as popular as the trails leading to the White Mountain 4000 footers and is, therefore, less traveled during the bridge seasons in spring and autumn.

The Pond is teaming with life from birds and fish to frogs and insects.
The Pond is teaming with life from birds and fish to frogs and insects.

The 1.6 miles to the pond should take you anywhere from one to two hours to hike, depending on your pace and how much pack weight you’re carrying. There’s no need to load up with too much water for this short stretch and carrying one liter should be sufficient, provided you have a filter or purifier with you to process more water when you reach the pond.

Province Pond is not heavily visited despite its proximity to North Conway, but the best time to visit is during the week if you want the Pond or Lean-to all to yourself.

About the author

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 7500 miles in the United States and the UK and written over 2500 articles as the founder of SectionHiker.com, noted for its detailed gear reviews and educational content. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine hiking and backpacking, Philip is the 36th person to hike all 650 of the hiking trails in the White Mountain Guide. He is also the author of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free online guidebook of the best backpacking trips in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. In addition, Philip volunteers as a 4 season backpacking leader for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a Long Trail Mentor for Vermont's Green Mountain Club, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. He lives in New Hampshire.

Safety Disclaimer

This trip plan can not alert you to every hazard, anticipate your experience, or limitations. Therefore, the descriptions of roads, trails, routes, shelters, tent sites, and natural features in this trip plan are not representations that a particular place or excursion will be safe for you or members of your party. When you follow any of the routes described on SectionHiker.com, you assume responsibility for your own safety. Under normal conditions, such excursions require the usual attention to traffic, road and trail conditions, weather, terrain, the capabilities of your party, and other factors. Always check for current conditions, obey posted signs, and Backcountry Camping and Wilderness Area Regulations. Hike Safe and follow the Hiker responsibility code. 

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3 comments

  1. Isn’t that the eastern side of the wmnf, not western as you say in the first paragraph?

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