Granite State Hiking Trails – The 10 Best Hikes in New Hampshire

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Embark on a journey through the breathtaking wilderness of New Hampshire with our curated list of the top 10 hiking trails in the Granite State. From challenging peaks to serene lakeside paths, these trails offer unparalleled opportunities to explore the natural beauty of the region.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking a new adventure or a beginner looking to experience the thrill of the great outdoors, these diverse and awe-inspiring trails are sure to impress. Get ready to discover the dramatic landscapes, stunning vistas, and diverse ecosystems that make New Hampshire an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Diverse Landscapes: New Hampshire offers various hiking trails that showcase diverse landscapes including mountains, waterfalls, and forests.
  • Accessibility: Many of the best hikes in New Hampshire are easily accessible from major cities and towns, making them ideal for both locals and tourists.
  • Difficulty Levels: From easy, family-friendly trails to challenging hikes for experienced hikers, New Hampshire’s trails offer something for everyone.
  • Scenic Views: Hikers can expect breathtaking scenic views of the White Mountains, lakes, and foliage throughout the year.
  • Wildlife and Nature: The trails provide opportunities to observe wildlife and experience the natural beauty of New Hampshire.
  • Seasonal Variations: Each trail offers a unique experience depending on the season, from summer wildflowers to fall foliage and winter snowscapes.
  • Cultural and Historical Significance: Many trails in the state have historical and cultural significance, adding an educational component to the hiking experience.

Franconia Ridge Loop

Aptly named the “Crown Jewel of the Appalachian Trail,” the Franconia Ridge Loop is a challenging and rewarding hike that offers breathtaking vistas and access to majestic waterfalls. This 8.9-mile loop is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and is known for its unparalleled views and rugged terrain.

Ridge vistas

Looping along the Franconia Ridge offers hikers the opportunity to take in spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The exposed ridge provides an awe-inspiring experience as you traverse the narrow path with steep drop-offs on either side. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the unforgettable panoramic scenes along the way.

Waterfalls access

Looping through the Franconia Ridge also grants access to stunning waterfalls, including the popular Bridal Veil Falls. The trail provides the perfect balance of challenging terrain and natural beauty, with the opportunity to cool off by the refreshing cascades while taking in the serene surroundings.

It’s essential to note that the Franconia Ridge Loop can be dangerous during inclement weather, with exposed sections and the potential for rapidly changing conditions. Hikers should come prepared with proper gear, including sturdy footwear and layers for varying temperatures. However, the unmatched views and access to breathtaking waterfalls make this hike a must-do for any avid hiker in New Hampshire.

Mount Washington Summit

While there are countless hiking trails within the Granite State, perhaps none are more iconic than the trails leading to the summit of Mount Washington. Standing at 6,288 feet, the summit of Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. It offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape and a sense of accomplishment for those who conquer its challenging trails. For a comprehensive list of the top hiking trails in New Hampshire, visit The Top 25 Hikes in New Hampshire.

Tuckerman Ravine trail

The Tuckerman Ravine trail is one of the most popular routes to the summit of Mount Washington. This trail offers hikers a unique experience, passing through the stunning glacial cirque known as Tuckerman Ravine. The trail is known for its challenging terrain and is particularly steep as it ascends towards the summit. Hikers should be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and the potential for dangerous rock slides in this area.

Cog Railway proximity

Washington’s proximity to the historic Cog Railway adds to its allure as a hiking destination. The Cog Railway, one of the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railways, offers visitors the opportunity to experience the mountain from a different perspective. This railway, which has been in operation since the 19th century, provides a unique way to access the summit of Mount Washington and is a popular option for those looking to enjoy the mountain without undertaking the challenging hike.

This railway, however, should be approached with caution as it can pose a danger to hikers in its vicinity. Hikers should be mindful of the railway’s schedule and keep a safe distance from the tracks to ensure their own safety.

Presidential Traverse

Now, let’s talk about the iconic Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This 20-mile hike is not for the faint of heart, as it traverses the ridgeline of seven of the most famous peaks in the Northeast, including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the region. The Presidential Traverse offers stunning panoramic views, a rugged and challenging terrain, and an unforgettable hiking experience.

Alpine zones

Presidential Traverse takes hikers through some of the most breathtaking alpine zones in New Hampshire. The above-treeline environment exposes hikers to the raw beauty of the White Mountains, but also presents challenges such as unpredictable weather, high winds, and rapidly changing conditions. Hikers must be prepared with sturdy gear, proper clothing, and knowledge of alpine environment safety in order to tackle this section of the trail.

Multiple peaks

One of the most unique aspects of the Presidential Traverse is the opportunity to summit multiple peaks in a single hike. Hikers will have the chance to bag a total of 7 peaks, including Mount Washington, Mount Adams, and Mount Jefferson. This means unparalleled views, varied terrain, and a sense of accomplishment as you conquer each peak along the journey.

To truly take on the Presidential Traverse, hikers should be prepared for a long and strenuous day, with potential for difficult weather conditions, extreme exposure, and challenging terrain. It is an adventure that requires careful planning, physical fitness, and perseverance, but the rewards of this iconic hike are well worth the effort.

Mount Monadnock Hike

For hiking enthusiasts in New Hampshire, a visit to Mount Monadnock is a must. Known as one of the most climbed mountains in the world, this iconic peak offers breathtaking views and a rewarding hiking experience for all skill levels. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, the trail to the summit of Mount Monadnock is a thrilling adventure that should not be missed.

Popular summit

One of the main attractions of Mount Monadnock is its easily accessible summit. With an elevation of 3,165 feet, the summit offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a favorite destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The well-marked trails leading to the summit are well-maintained and offer a variety of terrain, from rocky outcrops to lush forests, providing an exciting and diverse hiking experience for all who venture to the top.

Panoramic views

Mount Monadnock is renowned for its unrivaled panoramic views that extend for miles in every direction. Hikers are rewarded with stunning vistas of the New Hampshire countryside, including beautiful lakes, rolling hills, and distant mountain ranges. With its 360-degree view, the summit of Mount Monadnock provides a truly awe-inspiring experience that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who makes the journey to the top.

With a variety of photography opportunities and unique rock formations to explore, the summit of Mount Monadnock offers an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking a challenging hike or simply a peaceful escape into nature, the panoramic views at the top of Mount Monadnock are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Mount Chocorua Trail

Despite being one of the most challenging hikes in New Hampshire, the Mount Chocorua Trail is also one of the most rewarding. This 7.5-mile loop trail offers hikers some of the most breathtaking views in the state, making it a must-do for experienced outdoor enthusiasts.

Rocky summit

With its rocky and steep terrain, reaching the summit of Mount Chocorua is not for the faint of heart. However, the panoramic views from the top make the challenging ascent well worth it. Hikers can take in the stunning vistas of the surrounding White Mountains, as well as the picturesque Chocorua Lake below.

Lake reflections

To add to the allure of this trail, hikers will also be treated to the serene reflections of Chocorua Lake. This peaceful body of water offers a perfect spot for hikers to take a break and soak in the natural beauty of the area. Plus, the vibrant fall foliage in the surrounding forests makes for an even more picturesque view.

Plus, hikers may even spot some wildlife such as white-tailed deer, moose, or various bird species along the trail, adding to the overall experience.

Mount Moosilauke

Not many hiking trails in New Hampshire can rival the breathtaking views and the challenging terrain of Mount Moosilauke. As the westernmost 4000-footer in the White Mountains, Mount Moosilauke offers hikers a unique and rewarding experience that will leave them in awe of the natural beauty of New Hampshire.

Appalachian Trail section

Moosilauke is a favorite among thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, offering a steep but rewarding climb up its rocky slopes. The summit provides unparalleled panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a must-see for any hiking enthusiast.

Beaver Brook cascades

Beaver Brook cascades down the western slopes of Mount Moosilauke, creating a series of stunning waterfalls that are a sight to behold. The rugged beauty of the cascades draws in hikers looking for a unique and memorable experience in the Granite State.

Any hiker visiting Mount Moosilauke should exercise caution when approaching the Beaver Brook cascades, as the terrain can be steep and slippery. However, the opportunity to witness the powerful beauty of the cascades makes the hike well worth the effort.

Arethusa Falls Hike

Now, let’s explore the stunning Arethusa Falls Hike, one of the best hiking trails in New Hampshire. This trail is known for its beautiful scenery, challenging terrain, and of course, the breathtaking Arethusa Falls.

Tallest NH waterfall

Arethusa Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of New Hampshire, plunging an impressive 140 feet over a granite cliff face. The sight of the falls is truly awe-inspiring, and it’s a must-see for any avid hiker or nature enthusiast. The hike to the falls offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of varying skill levels.

Bemis Brook addition

Bemis Brook addition is a wonderful addition to the Arethusa Falls Hike, taking hikers through a beautiful forest and offering some stunning views along the way. The trail follows the brook, providing a peaceful and picturesque backdrop to the hike. It adds an extra element of natural beauty to an already spectacular trail.

Brook enthusiasts and nature lovers will find the Bemis Brook addition to be a highlight of the Arethusa Falls Hike, offering a serene and tranquil atmosphere with the soothing sounds of flowing water. The Bemis Brook addition is a perfect complement to the grandeur of Arethusa Falls, creating a well-rounded and fulfilling hiking experience.

Mount Osceola Trail

After conquering Mount Osceola Trail, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding White Mountains. This moderately challenging trail is known for its diverse terrain and stunning natural beauty. With an elevation gain of approximately 2,050 feet, the trail is a popular choice for experienced hikers looking for a rewarding adventure in the heart of New Hampshire.

East Peak Views

To the east, hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the scenic Pemigewasset Wilderness and the endless rolling hills of the surrounding landscape. The expansive vistas are a perfect opportunity to capture stunning photographs and truly appreciate the natural beauty of the Granite State. The challenging ascent to the east peak is well worth the effort, offering an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Chimney Rock Feature

To the west, hikers will encounter the impressive Chimney Rock feature, a unique rock formation that adds an element of intrigue to the trail. As hikers navigate the rugged terrain, they will be rewarded with close-up views of this natural wonder, making for a memorable and adventurous journey to the summit. The Chimney Rock feature is a highlight of the Mount Osceola Trail, adding an extra layer of excitement to the hike.

Osceola Trail is a moderately challenging hike, and hikers should be prepared for steep ascents and rocky terrain. Proper footwear and adequate water and supplies are essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. The trail is well-marked, but hikers should always exercise caution and stay on the designated path. With its stunning views and diverse landscape, the Mount Osceola Trail is a must-visit destination for hikers seeking a memorable adventure in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Welch-Dickey Loop

To truly experience the beauty of New Hampshire’s hiking trails, look no further than the Welch-Dickey Loop. This 4.4-mile trail offers stunning panoramic views of the White Mountains, making it one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Granite State. Its moderate difficulty level makes it accessible to hikers of all skill levels, and its proximity to the town of Thornton makes it a convenient choice for a day hike.

Granite slabs

One of the most striking features of the Welch-Dickey Loop is the presence of large granite slabs along the trail. These slabs provide a unique and challenging hiking experience, as hikers must navigate their way across the rugged terrain. The uneven surfaces can be slippery, so hikers should proceed with caution, especially during wet weather. However, the breathtaking views from these granite slabs make the effort well worth it.

Woodland flora

Woodland flora are another highlight of the Welch-Dickey Loop. The trail winds its way through lush forests, offering hikers the opportunity to observe a variety of native plant species. From wildflowers to towering trees, the diverse flora along the trail adds to the overall enjoyable hiking experience.

Flora enthusiasts will appreciate the chance to encounter species such as mountain laurel, trillium, and birch trees along the trail. These beautiful plants thrive in the pristine wilderness of the White Mountains, adding to the richness of the natural landscape.

Kinsman Ridge Trail

Unlike other hiking trails in New Hampshire, the Kinsman Ridge Trail offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for avid hikers. This 11.1-mile trail, located in the White Mountains, is known for its stunning views and diverse terrain. Hikers can expect to encounter rocky outcrops, dense forests, and alpine meadows along the way. For those seeking an adventurous and scenic hike, the Kinsman Ridge Trail is a must-visit destination.

For more information about hiking trails in New Hampshire, visit 10 Best Trails and Hikes in New Hampshire on AllTrails.

Lonesome Lake

Lake Lonesome, situated along the Kinsman Ridge Trail, is a picturesque alpine lake that serves as a tranquil resting spot for weary hikers. Surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery, it offers a perfect setting for a peaceful break. The beauty of Lonesome Lake is unmatched, making it a highlight of the Kinsman Ridge Trail.

Cannon Mountain

Kinsman Ridge Trail also provides access to Cannon Mountain, known for its steep and challenging ascent. Adventure-seekers will revel in the opportunity to conquer this iconic peak, while admiring the stunning panoramic views from the summit.

Plus, hikers can experience the thrill of riding the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, providing a unique way to access the trail and offering spectacular vistas along the journey.

Summing up Granite State Hiking Trails – The 10 Best Hikes in New Hampshire

In conclusion, the Granite State offers a wealth of hiking trails that cater to a variety of skill levels and preferences. From the rugged terrain of the White Mountains to the serene beauty of the Lakes Region, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a challenge or a beginner seeking a leisurely stroll, New Hampshire’s trails have got you covered. With stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a rich history, hiking in the Granite State is an experience not to be missed.

In addition, the 10 trails highlighted in this guide showcase the best that New Hampshire has to offer in terms of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. Whether you’re seeking panoramic views, waterfalls, or encounters with wildlife, these hikes have it all. So, grab your boots, pack your sunscreen, and hit the trails to discover the scenic wonders of the Granite State.

Granite State Hiking Trails – The 10 Best Hikes in New Hampshire FAQ

Q: What are the best hiking trails in New Hampshire?

A: The best hiking trails in New Hampshire include Franconia Ridge Loop, Mount Washington, Mount Monadnock, Mount Chocorua, and many more.

Q: What is the difficulty level of the hiking trails in New Hampshire?

A: The difficulty level varies from easy to strenuous, catering to hikers of all levels. Some trails require advanced hiking skills and proper gear.

Q: Are the hiking trails in New Hampshire suitable for families with children?

A: Yes, there are plenty of family-friendly hiking trails in New Hampshire with gentle slopes and shorter distances, perfect for families with children.

Q: When is the best time to hike in New Hampshire?

A: The best time to hike in New Hampshire is typically from late spring to early fall when the weather is milder and the trails are generally more accessible.

Q: What should I pack for a hike in New Hampshire?

A: It’s important to pack essentials such as water, snacks, a map or GPS, first-aid kit, appropriate clothing, and sturdy hiking boots. Additional gear may be necessary for more challenging trails.

Q: Are there any safety precautions to consider while hiking in New Hampshire?

A: Hikers should always be prepared for changing weather conditions, stay on marked trails, and be aware of wildlife. It’s also recommended to inform someone of your hiking plans and expected return time.

Q: Can I bring my dog on the hiking trails in New Hampshire?

A: Yes, many hiking trails in New Hampshire are dog-friendly. However, it’s important to check for any specific trail regulations and ensure that your dog is physically capable of the hike.

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