Tips for Exploring Old NH Cemeteries

We have had the good fortune of venturing out into some wonderful parts of New Hampshire, exploring abandoned roads and places that are long forgotten. We have seen some amazing things in my explorations, but the most rewarding thing is seeing old cemeteries so long gone they are no longer remembered by anyone…at least not anymore.

Below is a list of tips to help you get the most from your explorations into old cemeteries in New Hampshire.

1 – Bring Water, Food, and Dress for the Weather

Exploring the back country can take up a good chunk of time. Make sure you have at least 1 full bottle of water for each person in your party. Food is not mandatory, but it doesn’t hurt to bring some along with you. If you are out exploring in the summer heat, be sure to have hats and light clothing.

If you are exploring in colder seasons, dress for the weather. You don’t want to get caught out there without extra layers of clothes. Chances are, if you do get caught out, it will be because something blew up and forced you to leave your vehicle. This can happen at any time of year.

2 – Know Where You’re Going

A good GPS unit is well worth the investment if you plan on exploring off road in New Hampshire. Some areas we explore can take a few hours to get to, so having a GPS unit with updated maps is a must.

3 – Bring an Extra Pair of Shoes

Many cemeteries in New Hampshire are located off the beaten path and can be difficult to get around in. You most likely will not need these shoes anywhere else, but you may want them with you just in case. There are some cemeteries that may require you to wade through waist-high water or thick mud. The last thing you want is wet feet.

“The New England spirit does not seek solutions in a crowd; raw light and solitariness are less dreaded than welcomed as enhancers of our essential selves.”

― John Updike

4 – Snap Some Photos Before You Leave

Before leaving any cemetery, take a few minutes to snap some photos of the area. They will come in handy if you need to go back to the exact location of something you found there.

5 – Respect the Dead

New Hampshire is filled with old cemeteries that are empty and no longer visited by anyone except for us explorers. It may seem like an abandoned place to you, but it means a lot more to those who are buried there. Your respect for these people (and their families) is just as important to them, if not more so.

6 – Bring a GPS Unit

The non-abandoned parts of New Hampshire are filled with roads that have multiple names. This can get confusing when trying to find an abandoned road or cemetery outside of town. The best way to do this is to download current maps of the area you are exploring on to your GPS unit. This will help get you back to where you need to be without getting lost. Or, if you decide to explore another part of New Hampshire, it can get you there too!

7 – Do Not Enter Private Property

If someone has fenced off an area or put up signs that say “No Trespassing”, then do not enter that area. In some cases, this may mean you have to walk a bit more to find an open spot to explore from. It’s important that we respect the wishes of those who own property around us and allow us to visit their land.

8 – Be Careful Around Old Buildings

If you come across an old abandoned building, be extremely careful when exploring it. There may be nothing but a few floor and wall studs left in these places, so don’t assume that is all that is supporting the roof or exterior walls of these buildings.

9 – Bring a Camera with Flash

New Hampshire has its share of wildlife, including black bears, moose, and coyotes. These animals are most active at dawn and dusk, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be out there during the day. You don’t want to run into a bear in the middle of an old cemetery with nothing but your cellphone to take a picture with. Having a camera with a flash can help you capture that once-in-a-lifetime photo of a black bear.

10 – Stay on Old Roads and Paths

When exploring large areas, it can be difficult to walk across open fields and not get lost. Many explorers prefer to stay on old roads and paths as this will lead you right back where you started from. If you do not stay on a path, it is a good idea to have a compass with you just in case.

11 – Watch for Fallen Trees

New Hampshire can be very windy at times and this can cause trees to topple over onto old roads and paths. It’s best to keep an eye out for these as they may force you to find an alternate way to get where you want to go.

12 – Stay on the High Ground

When exploring a cemetery, it’s important to always stay on high ground so you can see everything from above. This is especially true when dealing with cemeteries that have been built over time after time as things may be different now than they were in the past.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that while abandoned cemeteries can be a lot of fun, they also mean a lot more to the families and descendants of the people buried there. We should always keep this in mind when exploring them.


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