The 15 Best Hiking Trails in New Hampshire! By
In a state as mountainous as New Hampshire, there is no shortage of impressive hiking opportunities to explore. Whether you spend an afternoon or a couple of days, a jaunt in the woods is good for the body and the soul. Find family-friendly peaks, or challenge yourself with an advanced trail, and grab a whole new view on things. New Hampshire also offers experiences along our portion of the Appalachian Trail, a wonderful and unique advantage of our location. Many trails accommodate dogs, so be sure to check online in advance!
1. Pitcher Mountain Trail, Stoddard, NH
For a day of family fun, there is perhaps no better path than the Pitcher Mountain Trail. An easy two-mile loop all told, lined by raspberry and blueberry bushes for on the move snacking. Leave time at the midway point to climb the fire tower for stunning views of the surrounding Green Mountains. Pitcher Mountain Trail is a great way to enjoy the vistas associated with more difficult climbing while including younger or less athletic members in the fun.
2. Presidential Traverse, Gorham, NH
If level of difficulty is of no concern, and you have a few days to devote to your Mountain Mistress, the Presidential Traverse rivals some of the best hiking spots in the world. A 23-mile trek, lasting between two and four days depending on pace, this path across the Presidential Range contains scenery almost too incredible for reality. Explore all seven peaks of the range, as well as quaint areas in between.
3. Mount Major Summit Trails, Alton, NH
For an all new view of the incredible Lake Winnipesaukee, the Mount Major Summit Trails are not to be missed. Explore the moderately easy blue trail for a 1.5-mile journey suitable for older and slightly more athletic children. For an easier descent, follow either the yellow or orange markers down.
Two quality hikes in one, the Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff trails of Crawford Notch are an option for hikers looking to take a longer hike but still keep it doable for older children. Stick with the Arethusa Falls trail for a 2.3-mile loop with a perfectly timed lunch or rest break in front of the majestic 140-foot, fantail waterfall. Add on a bonus hike and continue just up the trail to the Frankenstein Cliff for incredible views. Groups planning to bring children should avoid rainy days for increased safety on the rocks.
Summit the Northeast’s highest peak, the 6,288-foot Mount Washington, to experience an exhilarating climb and unrivaled views. A seven-mile trail loop, Tuckerman’s Ravine is a necessary challenge for all dedicated hikers. Be prepared for quickly changing weather, no matter the season, and an extremely rocky trail. If you conquer the summit, enjoy the best view in the state with sight lines extended into Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean. If you visit Tuckerman’s Ravine in the winter months, consider bringing a sled and fly down the ski trails rather than hiking back to base.
Make this hike the centerpiece of a family fun day on the lake! A three-mile, mostly flat loop appropriate for younger children with the incredible surroundings of Franconia Notch State Park. Pack a picnic and a bathing suit and take well deserved advantage of the lake itself after you finish your walk.
7. North & South Baldface Circle Trail, Chatham, NH
Conquer two peaks at once with the moderately difficult, 9.8-mile trail covering both North and South Baldface Mountain. The absolute bonus of this particular hike is experiencing the same glorious panorama from two distinct vantage points. Hike the North and South Baldface Circle trail May through November, and feel free to bring more robust canine companions along for the adventure.
A slightly more moderate, rugged option for adventurous families, Mount Willard offers 3.2 miles through densely wooded mountain trail. Not only does the summit provide stunning vistas, but several ledges situated along the climb present equally beautiful views. Enjoy the Mount Willard hike May through November, and bring a picnic to refuel once you reach the open summit. Keep your eyes peeled for waterfalls!
9. Bondcliff Trail, West Bondcliff, Lincoln, NH
An advanced, 23-mile stretch of trail that typically takes a full two days for completion. Open March through October, the Bondcliff Trail presents incredible 360-degree views of the White Mountains. Some more experienced hikers opt to make a day trip of it, leave the weight of gear behind, and run portions of the trail for an added challenge.
10. White Dot Trail, Mount Monadnock, NH
One of the most beloved mountains in our Granite State, Mount Monadnock is a great option for families looking for a slightly more difficult, slightly shorter excursion. Generally conquered in a half day, this trail is open year-round. A popular variation is to scale using the White Dot Trail, and descend on the White Cross Trail. Though not our tallest peak, Mount Monadnock is considered one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world, thanks to its popularity in literature. Read some Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson, who both wrote of the mountain, to get inspired, or bring them along to read at the summit for a truly immersive experience.
11. Welch-Dickey Trail Loop, Thornton, NH
Four and a half miles of moderately-difficult sheer rock faces with some of the best views in the state to reward your hard work. Open February until October, the Welch-Dickey Trail Loop is a favorite for experienced hikers looking for a new challenge, and is particularly adored in the autumn when foliage is King. This particular trail is quite popular, so if you plan to do a weekend hike arrive early to beat the crowds!
12. West Ridge Trail, Mount Cardigan, Orange, NH
A moderate hike offering the most direct trail to the Mount Cardigan Summit, that is open year-round. The view at the top is glorious, with sight lines to the White Mountains, Mount Monadnock, Vermont’s Camel’s Hump, and Maine’s Mount Pleasant. Visit during warmer months to enjoy spectacular wildflowers along the trail.
Visit West Rattlesnake mountain for one of the most breathtaking lake views in the entire state. 1.8 miles of moderately easy trail ending with vistas of Squam Lake. Bring a book on plant identification and keep your eyes peeled for some of the rare flora growing on West Rattlesnake Mountain.
14. Zealand Falls, Zealand Notch, NH
A six mile round trip suitable for families, the Zealand Falls trail offers both stunning views and an up close encounter with a glorious waterfall. Stop into the Zealand Falls Hut, a shelter maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club June through October to chat with a naturalist and learn a bit about the area, or during other months to warm up and take a rest. Ask about an opportunity for children to earn their Junior Naturalist Badge!
However you summit Mount Kearsarge, this mountain is guaranteed to provide a memorable day of family togetherness and fun. A popular three-mile trail combination is Winslow Trail to Barlow Trail to Warner Trail. The summit provides a lovely open space to enjoy a packed lunch and incredible views of the Green Mountains, Mount Washington, and Merrimack Valley. On the clearest day, you can even keep a lookout for a view of the Boston Skyline. The mountain is open to hikers year round, though visits in April and May are discouraged due to the muddiness of the trails. Consider bringing snowshoes for a true New Hampshire adventure!
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