I’ve never kept it a secret that I love hiking. It’s without question my favorite outdoor activity and in the past year I’ve done a few handfuls of hikes in Vermont and New Hampshire. (I live almost right on the border between those two states in New England.)
Although I must admit that in the past three months I haven’t done that many long hikes – the weather and winter hasn’t exactly allowed for that. My outdoor fun has been limited to some snowshoeing, which is absolutely great by the way, and cross-country skiing. That has been a nice alternative to hiking, but it doesn’t really involve climbing any mountains and that’s exactly what I’m after.
So, now that the snow is finally starting to melt, I’m anxious to strap on my hiking boots again and head up to some mountain summit. Two hikes in Vermont and New Hampshire that I’m dying to do are the Long Trail (Vermont) and the Presidential Traverse (New Hampshire) – the latter is planned on Memorial Day weekend.
For now, as some spring inspiration, I’d like to share with you my 7 favorite hikes in Vermont and New Hampshire (so far).
7 Great Hikes in Vermont and New Hampshire
Mount Cardigan, New Hampshire
This might just be my favorite hike of them all. Mount Cardigan is a monadnock, meaning that it’s a lone-standing mountain. Additionally, its bare granite summit – the result of a fire many decades ago – offers phenomenal panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. I’ve climbed Mount Cardigan a few times and my favorite route is the combination of the South Ridge Trail up and the West Ridge Trail down. That loop is 4 miles long and takes about 2.5 hours.
Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire
Due the fact that it’s owned by Dartmouth College, Mount Moosilauke is one of the more popular mountains for hiking in New Hampshire. There’s an excellent lodge at its base, popular among day hikers and Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. Again, there’s a great combined-trail loop to the top and back – the Gorge Brook Trail, Carriage Road and Snapper Trail add up to a great 3.5-hour and 7.4-mile loop.
Mount Ascutney, Vermont
Mount Ascutney is not a mountain to climb for its rewarding summit views; the top is covered with trees. Instead, this mountain offers excellent ledge views on the way up and down on several trails of various difficulties. It’s a fine mountain for an afternoon hike, just don’t expect a view from the summit. The Weathersfield Trail is a 5.8-mile roundtrip, requiring about 3.5 hours of hiking.
Smarts Mountain, New Hampshire
Smarts Mountain dominates the natural skyline of western New Hampshire. This prominent mountain is fantastic to climb, especially during the fall. The Lambert Ridge Trail to the summit and the Ranger Trail back down make for a downright marvelous loop – it totals 7.5 miles and takes around 3.5 hours. The views are spectacular.
Black Mountain, New Hampshire
Definitely a less-known mountain yet super-rewarding, Black Mountain in western New Hampshire makes for a fine and fairly challenging afternoon hike. Although the trail to the top could be called short, it’s very steep. The Chippewa Trail, as it’s called, is only 1.8 miles one way. The roundtrip, including time to eat a snack and enjoy the views, takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire
Arguably one of the very best day hikes in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Franconia Ridge Loop takes in three 4,000-footers – Little Haystack, Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette. It’s an absolutely magnificent loop hike, offering jaw-dropping views of Franconia Notch, the Pemigewasset Wilderness and the Kinsman Range. The total distance is just under 9 miles and the hike takes about 5 hours and 20 minutes.
Mount Mansfield, Vermont
Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont and, therefore, the views from its summit are unparalleled in the state. Its ecology is vulnerable and fragile, and hikers are constantly reminded to stay on the trails. Again, there are a few trails to the summit, but I would suggest taking the Hell Brook Trail up (the steepest trail in Vermont) and the Long Trail down. It makes for a nice 5.6-mile loop, which takes 3 hours and 20 minutes.
I cannot wait to strap out my boots and head out into nature again. I encourage you to do the same – hiking is one of the greatest activities in the world!
As usual in the United States, the best way to get around while traveling is by renting a car.