10 Best Hiking Trails in New Hampshire

If you are an avid hiker, there are few places in the world better than New Hampshire.

This state is home to the White Mountains, the famous Mount Washington, the Appalachian trail, and much more.

Thus, hikers have a wide range of paths to choose from that range all difficulty levels. 

So, without further ado, here is a list of the best hiking trails in New Hampshire. 

10 Top-Rated Trails in New Hampshire

1. Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

A challenging 9.3-mile loop in the White Mountains containing rugged terrain, it is the best hiking trail in New Hampshire. 

This trail is in Franconia Notch State Park and is near Lincoln, New Hampshire. People mainly use the trail for hiking and snowshoeing in April through October. 

This extremely popular hike in New Hampshire’s White Mountains begins at Lafayette Campground and lets you see some of the best views in New England. 

2. Mount Willard Trail

Mount Willard Trail is also one of the best hikes in New Hampshire. It is a short 3.1-mile round trip path and rated as a moderate hike in Crawford Notch State Park. 

The trail begins at Saco Lake and leads you to a waterfall and centennial pool. Also, the sight from the top gives you rewarding views of Crawford Notch. 

This trail is for intermediate hikers because of the short distance and medium terrain. However, it is steep, and you will need to work your muscles hard.

3. Welch-Dickey Loop Trail

This path is one of the most beloved trails in White Mountain National Forest mainly because it offers a chance to see wildlife and can give you outstanding views of Waterville Valley. This loop is also a family-friendly trail and is the most heavily trafficked trail in the area of Thornton, New Hampshire.

The trail is a 4.4 miles round trip and reaches 1,778 feet in elevation. It begins with a few steep inclines before you get to Mount Welch.

Once you hit Mount Welch’s peak, continue north, and you will reach Mount Dickey. The trail will then descend until you reach your starting location at the same trailhead as before. 

Most people choose to hike this trail counter-clockwise, but it is up to you which route you take.

4. Mount Monadnock via White Dot and White Cross Trails

White Dot Trail is in Mount Monadnock State Park near Jaffrey in southern New Hampshire. This area is another heavily trafficked White Cross Trail because Mount Monadnock is one of the most hiked mountains in the world. Over 125,000 people climb it every year, making it the most climbed mountain on the planet. 

It begins with a steep scramble up to the peak that ends with advantageous views. The hike is steep the whole way up. 

Also, remember that this hike is rated as hard and is a 3.8-mile loop. Plus, the peak is windy, so bring layers. 

5. Mount Major via Brook and Main Trail Loop

Mount Major State Forest has tall trees and forest pines on the way up to the top of Mount Major’s peak, making for a gorgeous hike. The trail is rated as moderate and has glacial erratic rocks along the way. 

The trail starts easy and flat and gradually gets steeper. Views along the way up the mountain include Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains. You will also see the Major Mountain range and leftover remains of Mr. Phippen’s Hut from the summit.

Mr. Phippen previously owned the summit of Mount Major in the early 1900s. This hut is special because Mr. Phippen opened it up for hikers to rest in when the weather on top of the mountain was rough. He always left the door to the hut unlocked for hikers of all ages to witness beautiful sunrises and views.

6. Mount Washington via Tuckerman Ravine and Lion Head Trail

Mount Washington is the tallest peak in the Northeast. One of the last mountains that thru-hikers tackle before reaching the most challenging mountain on the Appalachian Trail (if they start in Georgia and end in Maine), Mount Katahdin in Maine, Mt. Washington is a hike made for outdoor adventure. 

People often call Mount Washington the most dangerous small mountain in the world. This hike is only for more experienced hikers, and people should only attempt it with proper gear and knowledge. The elevation gain reaches past 4,000 feet. 

Proper gear for hiking this mountain includes trekking poles, layers, crampons, and much more. Here, you can find out more about what to bring on day hikes. 

If this sounds out of your wheelhouse, you can drive to the top of Mount Washington or take the Cog Railway. The Cog Railway is a fun experience, no matter if you’re going up or down the mountain since you get a ride with incredible views. Or, you can hike to the peak and ride the Cog Railway down.

Taking Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch is the most popular route to the summit of Mount Washington. However, be aware of the conditions before beginning a journey to the rocky summit. 

You can also reach the top of the mountain by taking the Jewell trail, which is one of the best hiking trails in New Hampshire.

7. Lonesome Lake Trail

This trail is in Franconia Notch State Park and is a 3.1-mile loop. This hike is best for hiking, walking, camping, and snowshoeing.

Even though this hike is shorter than the others, you should not think it is easy. The trail has steep ascents up Cannon Mountain and is over 1,000 feet in elevation gain.

On the way to the lake, you will come across views of Franconia Ridge. Also, there is a hut at the end of the trail where you can reserve a room for lodging or just have a meal or snack.

8. The Flume Gorge Trail

The Flume Gorge Trail is family-friendly and accessible on a boardwalk that takes you through a gorge within the White Mountains. 

Flume Gorge is in Franconia Notch State Park in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and is a heavily trafficked two-mile loop. This park has some of the most popular hikes in New Hampshire. 

The Flume is an organic gorge that begins at the bottom of Mount Liberty and lies in between a vista of Mount Liberty and Mount Flume. Beautiful flowers, mosses, ferns, and other plants await you along the boardwalk.

This hike is perfect for waterfall lovers because there are many spots along the boardwalk to spot a cascading waterfall.

Aunt Jess Guernsey discovered this trail in 1808 when she was 93 years old while looking for a fishing spot. She found the course by accident and convinced her family to hike to see what she found. Now, there is a boardwalk to make the viewpoints easily accessible. 

9. Mount Tecumseh Trail via Waterville Trailhead

Mount Tecumseh is the smallest of New Hampshire’s 4,000 footer mountains. Not that any 4,000-foot hike is easy, though, and this hiking trail is steep because there are no switchbacks, and you are hiking up a ski run. 

The first mile is steep, but then you reach a viewpoint where you can rest a minute. Travel another mile, and you are at the Tecumseh Trail and Sosman Trail cross trail. Hike just another 0.3 miles, and you are at the summit of Mount Tecumseh. 

10. Mount Moosilauke and South Peak Loop

This hike takes you up Gorge Brook Trail, Ravine Lodge Trail, and to the summit of Mount Moosilauke. In the winter, this is a fun and adventurous ski trail, which skiers can descend from the South Peak. 

Mount Moosilauke has views of the White Mountains and surrounding mountains. It is an 8.2-mile round trip and is 2,506 feet in elevation. If you are not skiing or hiking, visitors like snowshoeing as well. 

Other Outdoor Adventures in New Hampshire

There are plenty of hikes that didn’t make the top ten list but are still some of the best hikes in the state. Some of these trails feature a fire tower, while others have a bald summit.

Here are a few other locations, hiking trails, and sights to check out on your stay in New Hampshire. 

  • Arethusa Falls Trail
  • Rocky Glen Falls
  • Falling Waters Trail
  • West Rattlesnake Mountain
  • Zealand Falls and Zealand Falls Hut
  • Squam Lake
  • Pumpelly Trail
  • Piper Trail
  • Champney Falls Trail
  • Kancamagus Highway
  • Rollins State Park
  • Presidential Traverse
  • Little Haystack Mountain
  • North Conway
  • Barlow Trail
  • Kinsman Falls
  • Bald Mountain
  • Presidential Range

Conclusion

New Hampshire entices many hikers who travel year-round to climb incredible hiking trails. The state also has the White Mountain National Forest, a part of the Appalachian Mountain Club, and gives you access to waterfalls, lakes, and state parks. 

There are 48 peaks in New Hampshire, and most of them are over 4,000 feet tall, some of them being the most climbed mountains in the world. Hikes in New Hampshire are extremely rewarding because of the steep inclines and breathtaking views. The Granite State is the place to visit if you are passionate about outdoor adventures. 

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