Great Places to Hike in Southern New Hampshire
The Most Popular Peak
Located near Jaffrey, Mount Monadnock tops out at over 3,100 feet and is surrounded by Monadnock State Park. There are over 35 miles of trails to hike here, including paths to the summit, from which you can see the Boston skyline as well as the peaks of the White Mountains. Mount Monadnock is commonly considered the most climbed mountain in the Western Hemisphere, likely due to its location and accessibility.
There are a variety of trails you can take to the summit, with popular options including:
- White Dot/White Cross Trails
- Toll Road and White Arrow Trails
- Pumpelly Trail
The trails range in length and difficulty, but you should plan on spending at least 3-4 hours, round trip, and prepare for a moderate difficulty hike.
If you’re looking for a mountain your kids can climb, Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, NH provides an easy and fast hike to the 2,163 foot summit. The trail itself is less than half a mile, and takes most families less than half an hour to climb. When you reach the top, you’ll find the fire lookout tower, and some spectacular views. If you go in late summer, bring some buckets – wild blueberries grow thickly here.
If you’re looking for a little more of a kid-friendly challenge, check out Little Monadnock and Pack Monadnock. Both will provide great views of Mount Monadnock and give the whole family a good workout, though Little Monadnock is the easier of the two trails.
Art on the Trail
Not every hike has to take you up a mountain to give you stunning views. At the Andres Institute of Art in Brookline, NH, you can take an easy walk up Potanipo Hill, and enjoy the largest sculpture park in New England. Founded in 1996, the park covers more than 140 acres of land and features eleven different hiking trails, many ranked easy. The park is free to the public and open daily from dawn to dusk.
Nature and Conservation
At the Beaver Brook Reservation, in Hollis, NH, you can explore 35 miles of trails through wetlands, forests, and fields. This family-friendly area is open from dawn to dusk, and you can even bring your four-legged friend (on a leash). Trails are multi-use, and range in difficulty from easy to moderate. Here you can enjoy both managed forests and unmanaged wild area, for a stunning array of diverse landscapes.
An Easy Walk
If you’re looking for an easy walk, the Joe English Reservation in Amherst, NH provides 7 miles of well-maintained trails. These hilly woodland trails provide a quiet respite, and are suitable for children and adults alike. Dogs are welcome, but beware! Hunting is allowed at the reservation, so be sure to dress you and your canine companion appropriately during hunting season.
For experienced hikers, a through-trail provides a long-distance challenge. Southern NH offers two such trails.
The Wapack Trail runs 21 miles from North Pack Monadnock down to Mt. Watatic in Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest interstate trails, and very popular for long-distance hikers. Here you can find wetlands, ponds, blueberries, and panoramic views. Camping is only permitted in two locations along the trail, and water is scarce, so plan carefully for this 2-day adventure.
The Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway is nearly 50 miles of hiking trails, going north from Grand Monadnock up to Mount Sunapee. It was established in 1921, and runs through 3 separate state parks. Most of the areas along the trail are rated easy through moderate, though hiking the full length will take 3-4 days. There are 5 campsites located along the trail.
From families with small children to experienced hikers, Southern New Hampshire provides a wide range of hiking trails for you to explore. Covering a variety of terrain, these great trails are sure to help you discover all nature has to offer in your own backyard.