Best hikes in new Hampshire
With mountains, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls, the scenery in New Hampshire is made for hiking. There are also more than 4,000 miles of hiking trails in ‘The Granite State’, so whether you’re a local resident or vacationing, you’ll be able to find a hike to suit your level of fitness and every weather condition.
In this article, we’re going to have a look at some of the best hikes in New Hampshire, from short, 1-mile walks with gorgeous views of Kinsman Falls to full-day hikes through the White Mountains and Presidential Range.
There are two excellent hiking trails on the most frequently climbed mountain in New Hampshire – and the world – for hikers to enjoy. There are lovely, 360-degree views from the summit.
The most family-friendly and one of the best trails for fans of shorter, less strenuous hikes is the White Cross Trail. The terrain falls into the moderate category, which means it isn’t exactly a stroll in the park, but it should be fine if you have a basic level of fitness. It’s located in Monadnock State Park, and you can get to it by heading for the Monadnock Country Park in Jaffrey, which is where it begins.
If you’re looking for a more challenging hike that can take you as long as seven hours, then you’ll want to try the Pumpelly Trail. This is a gorgeous hike that encompasses everything from lush, green woods to rocky mountains.
Champney Falls Trail
This trail finds you at Mount Chocorua, one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, thanks to the unique peak that many hikers love to photograph with the Chocorua Lake in the foreground. Visiting this mountain is a must for anyone who is visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The trail is easily accessible from the Kancamagus Highway.
The Champney Falls trail isn’t the hardest to complete, even for kids. And for children, it will all be worthwhile when they see the gorgeous, frozen cascade that’s 70ft in height. You should remember to pick the right weather and the right footwear for this hike as there’s a chance of the rocky terrain being slippy.
Welch and Dickey Trail
This trail finds you in the Waterville Valley area of the White Mountain National Forest. It’s a lovely part of New Hampshire that is incredibly beautiful in Autumn when the lush greenery starts to turn brown. The weather is crisp, clear, and perfect for hiking at this time of year too.
Depending on your fitness level, you can complete this hike – approximately 4 miles – in between two and three hours. It offers an elevation gain of 1,650ft cumulatively. It’s a moderate hike that offers spectacular views of the White Mountains, as you’d expect from this lovely corner of New England.
Lonesome Lake Trail
This New Hampshire trail is best hiked during the spring and summer months. It’s found in the Franconia Notch State Park. You’re best leaving your car in the Lafayette Campground’s parking area.
The hike has an elevation gain of 1,025ft, and it is approximately 3 miles long. On a clear day, it offers great views of the Franconia Ridge. You have to be able to deal with some steep climbs, but it isn’t the hardest of hikes and falls into the moderate category—ideal for a day hike.
Arethusa Falls Trail
This trail is in a lovely part of Crawford Notch State Park that’s located in northern New Hampshire, and a great place to stop along the way through the White Mountains. The Arethusa waterfall is one of Crawford Notch State Park highlights, and it is 140ft tall.
This trail offers an elevation gain of 785ft, and the hike is between 2 miles and 3 miles long, depending on the route that you take. It offers opportunities for rock scrambling. It can get snowy in winter – just like most of the White Mountains of New Hampshire – so it is best enjoyed during spring and summer unless you bring your snowshoes with you for a more challenging hike. It’s quite easily one of the most pleasant hikes in New Hampshire.
Another nearby hike that leads to Arethusa Falls is the Frankenstein Cliff trail, which offers spectacular views of the Frankenstein Trestles.
Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail
This is one of the most challenging hikes in New Hampshire and the White Mountains. If you’re keen to test yourself, perhaps as part of hiking the Appalachian Trail, then this is one of the best hikes for you.
You can do a loop that’s between 8 miles and 8 miles and a half. It offers an elevation gain of over 3,800ft. There isn’t a mountain as high as Lafayette outside of the Presidential Range. The summit of Mount Lafayette is 3,000 vertical feet. It’s also an exposed, rocky summit that provides lovely views of the area.
Mount Willard Trail
This hike is located at Mount Willard in one of the finest state parks in New Hampshire, the Crawford Notch State Park. One of the highlights of this trail – besides the gorgeous views that it offers – is the Beecher and Pearl cascades. This is one of the most enjoyable hikes in New Hampshire to take dogs too. But it would help if you remembered that it could get very muddy when there’s been rainfall. You’ll need to ensure that you’ve got good hiking boots, or, if it’s getting into wintertime, then you’ll want to wear spikes.
The Mount Willard trail offers an elevation gain of 900ft. The trail is dog-friendly, and it is between 2 miles and 3 miles depending on the route that you take.
Mount Major Trail
This moderate loop trail found in the Major Mountain State Forest offers you about a 4 miles round trip that encompasses lovely views and a small amount of rock scrambling. It’s best enjoyed during fall time when the sky is clear, and the colors are spellbinding. Romance is always in the air with this hike in New Hampshire.
The trail offers an elevation gain of 1,150ft.
Mount Washington and Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail
This is easily one of the most enjoyable, strenuous hikes in New Hampshire, which involves the highest peak in the North East. As it’s a ridge trail, then it will likely require you to walk the length of the trail then to return. It is approximately 8 miles in one direction, then another 8 miles back. It’s possible to stay in the nearby North Conway where you’ll find lots of pleasant accommodation.
The elevation gain is 3,812ft for each leg of the trail, making it the best choice for a long hike that will take you a whole day to complete. It’s a must for visitors to White Mountain National Forest.
Appalachian Trail and Presidential Range
This isn’t just one of the most beautiful hikes in New Hampshire; it is also one of the most beautiful hikes on the whole of the Appalachian Trail. It involves climbing Mount Washington, which gives stunning 360-degree views from its peak, which is the highest in New Hampshire and the North East.
This is a long trail that you might want to consider doing hut-to-hut so that you don’t need to worry about returning to your start point. You can choose to walk 2 miles, 5 miles, 6 miles, or longer each day as you work your way across one of the finest hiking trails in North America. You’ll get to encounter stunning terrain, including Mount Adams and Mount Jefferson. It’s the best choice for adventurers who want to test themselves while enjoying the gorgeous scenery that New Hampshire has to offer. You can get some of the best views in the White Mountains on this trail.
An easier walk that you can do here is the Valley Way trail.
Mount Flume Trail
Mount Flume is found in Franconia Notch State Park, and it has several hikes to choose from. Perhaps the finest is the Flume Slide Trail. It’s only recommended to the most experienced adventurers as it is strenuous, to say the least. You may even want to pack your snowshoes depending on the time of year that you decide to visit this part of New Hampshire.
The elevation gain is 3,000ft, and the length of the trail is approximately 8. 5 miles. That means that the whole hike will be a 17-mile loop. Make sure to follow the trail closely, as the area is quite dangerous if you wander off the well-trodden path.
Lincoln Woods Trail
This 10-mile trail through the woods is ideal for hikers who want to enjoy the wilderness. It’s relatively flat, but the length makes it a moderate hike. If you’re a fan of endurance hiking or want to take your dog for a long walk, then this family-friendly trail is a good option. The elevation gain of 525ft makes it kind to your knees too. And you can choose how far you want to go, as it can easily be a half-day, 8-mile loop if you so wish.
Falling Waters Trail
This is a challenging walk that is accessible all year-round. You can choose to go snow-shoeing, and there is even some rock climbing to enjoy too. The highlight of this New Hampshire hike is the ‘Shining Rock’. This is a stunning granite slab that offers huge dimensions of 200ft and 800ft.
Other Recommended New Hampshire Hikes
There is so much to explore in New Hampshire and the White Mountains that it is impossible to list all the amazing hikes that are available.
Other highlights include climbing West Rattlesnake mountains, which offer hard-to-believe views across Squam Lake.
Mount Eisenhower is one of the White Mountains, and it can be climbed on the same day as Mount Pierce if you’re an experienced adventurer.
The Red Hill Fire Tower Trail is a shorter hike that’s family-friendly and provides stunning views of Lake Winnipesauke. The Red Hill Fire Tower Trail also offers ample opportunities for an overnight cabin stay.