Mountain Project Logo

NH/ME Locals: Realistic expectations for living near Portsmouth/Kittery?


Original Post
Zach Allin · · VA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 35

I'm a mechanical engineer and I've noticed some interesting job opportunities in the Portsmouth/Kittery area but I've been having trouble answering a few questions:

What's the local climber scene like? I see there's a gym but I talked to someone who said their weren't many other climbers when he lived there. 
How far is decent WW kayaking?
Skiing or mountain biking close enough to do during the week? 
Am I going to be bored out of my mind during the week or are there fun outdoor activities closer than the Whites?
Is there quality surf nearby?

Any info is much appreciated! 

Stephen Thunstrom · · Dover NH · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 0

Hi Zach
I live close by in Dover NH.  There is no climber scene in Portsmouth. However, there are climbers who live there.  On a winter day you will see dozens of surfers out there on good surf days.  Climbing gyms are Metro rock in Newburyport MA and Salt pump climbing Co in Scarborough ME.  Both are 30 and 40 min away respectively.  WW probably up in western Maine is your best bet 3~ Hour drive roughly.  Mountain biking is growing fast in NH with some awesome riding.  Fort Rock and Stratham Hill Park are close for after work riding. Just take a look at Trail Forks.  There is good bouldering at Pawtuckaway and surprisingly good hard climbing at Stonehouse pond closer to Portsmouth.  Will you be bored?  Only you can answer that.  My advice is move to where you can get the best job then you will have the money and time for recreation.

Mark Frumkin · · Bishop, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

I haven't been to Portsmouth/Kittery in a few years, but I love the area. Really good food, good people, no climbing.

xcrag-corex · · The Mighty Granite State · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 30

I’ll second Stephens list and add that there is also roped climbing at Stonehouse Pond in Barrington and it wouldn’t be too far a drive to Longstack Precipice near Alton at the south end of lake winnipasauki . Good location for post work climbing on the longer summer days .

caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 75

I grew up in the area. You will be bored as shit during the week. Almost everything good is at least an hour drive. Driving to the gyms in the portland area is costly because there is a $3 toll on the highway both ways in york. The gym in newburyport has a $2 toll each way as well. And there's a ton of tolls going north to the whites. Expect to drive a lot and pay a lot of tolls. Concord is a better bet on most fronts.

PosiDave · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 65
Zach Allin wrote: I'm a mechanical engineer and I've noticed some interesting job opportunities in the Portsmouth/Kittery area but I've been having trouble answering a few questions:

What's the local climber scene like? I see there's a gym but I talked to someone who said their weren't many other climbers when he lived there.
How far is decent WW kayaking?
Skiing or mountain biking close enough to do during the week?
Am I going to be bored out of my mind during the week or are there fun outdoor activities closer than the Whites?
Is there quality surf nearby?

Any info is much appreciated! 

Surf in NH is great when it is working, Summer obviously is the slow time for the NE, so invest in some good wetsuits as it is chilly compared to anywhere else other than Maine and Nova Scotia in the US.

Pawtuckaway has Bouldering/Trad 
I am looking at moving either near Portsmouth or Morth Conway and it’s a similar discussion I have had with people.
caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 75

I'll add that I love pway but get ready for some west nile virus cause those mosquitos are BRUTAL. The bouldering guidebook literally has a picture of a mosquito on the cover. THe bouldering conditions have not been great this fall but that is an anomaly.

Cron · · Kittery, ME · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 55

I lived in Kittery most of my life. Climber for about 6 years in that area.

Caesar brings up a good point about the tolls on I95, ends up being a $6 round trip to Portland. But..you can take Rt. 4 and get on the interstate in Wells to bypass them, adds maybe 5 minutes of travel time. I had a membership to Salt Pump in Scarborough the last 2 years, far and above the best gym in the area and I would personally recommend over the Evo in Concord. It seemed crazy at first, but my partner(s) and I got in the habit of making the 50 minute drive to the gym 3 days a week after work. Gets expensive, best to find some good mates to carpool with.

Personally, I've climbed at Stonehouse Pond what seems like 100 times and I never get board doing those routes and projecting hard slab. Climbing in the New Durham area is about 50 minutes away with relatively short approaches.

Since I don't see anyone has addressed weekday skiing yet - Gunstock is about an hour away and offers decent night skiing.

Brent D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 192
Stephen Thunstrom wrote: Hi Zach
I live close by in Dover NH.  There is no climber scene in Portsmouth. However, there are climbers who live there.  On a winter day you will see dozens of surfers out there on good surf days.  Climbing gyms are Metro rock in Newburyport MA and Salt pump climbing Co in Scarborough ME.  Both are 30 and 40 min away respectively.  WW probably up in western Maine is your best bet 3~ Hour drive roughly.  Mountain biking is growing fast in NH with some awesome riding.  Fort Rock and Stratham Hill Park are close for after work riding. Just take a look at Trail Forks.  There is good bouldering at Pawtuckaway and surprisingly good hard climbing at Stonehouse pond closer to Portsmouth.  Will you be bored?  Only you can answer that.  My advice is move to where you can get the best job then you will have the money and time for recreation.

Don’t forget indoor ascent for gyms. No, it’s not much but it’s cheap and has decent bouldering on polished holds. Just like real rock climbing!

Jonathan Eames · · Clinton, MA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0
Brent D wrote:

Don’t forget indoor ascent for gyms. No, it’s not much but it’s cheap and has decent bouldering on polished holds. Just like real rock climbing!

There is a reason indoor ascent is not mentioned... You're much better off driving the extra distance to Metro or Saltpump.

Cron · · Kittery, ME · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 55
Jonathan Eames wrote:

There is a reason indoor ascent is not mentioned... You're much better off driving the extra distance to Metro or Saltpump.

Yeah...so true. Indoor Ascent holds a special place in my heart, but it’s a relic of the past. At one point i was living in Dover less than 200 feet from that gym, still chose to make the drive up to Scarborough for my gym sessions.

Brent D · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 192
Jonathan Eames wrote:

There is a reason indoor ascent is not mentioned... You're much better off driving the extra distance to Metro or Saltpump.

In not debating that salt pump is better because it absolutely is. I’m simply saying that if you want a workout and you don’t want to sit in the car for 2 hours round trip, it’s worth a visit. 

Nick Woodman · · Saco, ME · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

I live in Kittery and walk to work. I used to live in Saco and commute down, about 45 minutes, so I see the time I spend driving to the mountains as a net win, since I'm not doing the long round trip daily and dealing with parking etc at work. Takes me about 50 minutes to get to gunstock, hour and 45 to north conway, and about 50 minutes to salt pump. It's a decent amount of driving but short of moving to a adventure capital, there isn't much I can do about it. 

Jonathan Eames · · Clinton, MA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0
Brent D wrote:

In not debating that salt pump is better because it absolutely is. I’m simply saying that if you want a workout and you don’t want to sit in the car for 2 hours round trip, it’s worth a visit. 

Oh of course you can still go there. It is just more of a disappointment because they could probably do a lot better with a little more effort. They could attract all Dover and Portsmouth climbers since they are the closest gym.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
Post a Reply to "NH/ME Locals: Realistic expectations for living…"

Log In to Reply