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15 Best New Hampshire Hiking Trails (With Varying Difficulties)

Explore the top 15 hiking trails in New Hampshire, from serene walks to challenging climbs. Perfect for travelers seeking nature's finest views and adventures.

Tobi Miles
August 15, 2022
15 Best New Hampshire Hiking Trails (With Varying Difficulties)

New Hampshire has a lot of surprising and beautiful hidden features. The more common ones are their granite formations and quarries. Moreover, New Hampshire is best known for Mount Washington, which is the highest peak in the state!

While New Hampshire is a wonderful place for winter recreational activities, it has more than that. It is also a spectacular area for hiking. It offers many magical viewpoints and adventures that, even in the worst mood, these hikes will help to cheer you up. Therefore, with all of the beauty here, you are sure to find the perfect trail.

New Hampshire provides you with many opportunities to hike trails. Some trails provide you with beautiful photos, while others increase your heart rate! Therefore, knowing which trails are more challenging is important; this article will help you decide that.

1. Pondicherry Nature Refuge via Presidential Range Rail Trail

Credit: Mark Nenadov / Flickr

The Pondicherry Nature Refuge is an excellent place for those that are interested in seeing wildlife. There have been more than 200 different bird species documented!

Moreover, birds are not the only thing you will see here. There are many opportunities to spot moose, bears, and amphibians! It is a great place to bring your children and teach them about wildlife.

Furthermore, there are two trails on the refuge. Cherry Pond is linked to Little Cherry Pond by a looped trail where you follow a forested bog. The second trail is a section of Cohos Regional Trail.

The Cohos Regional Trail enters the Refuge from Whipple Road on the east. It leads you to Cherry Pond and then takes you to Highway 115.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 4.9 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 147 feet

2. Welch-Dickey Loop Trail

Credit: rickpilot_2000 / Flickr

While the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail is quite challenging, it has plenty to offer. You get stunning views of Waterville Valley and the surrounding area. It is truly a beautiful sight to see.

Furthermore, this trail can be completed in either direction. However, many hikers prefer hiking this trail counter-clockwise.

At the beginning of this trail, you climb some short but steep sections until you reach Welch Mountain. You then walk north until you reach Dickey Mountain.

This trail is open year-round. However, from November to May, it is best that you have experience with winter hiking. You may need hiking poles and traction devices because of the snow and ice.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 4.4 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 1,778 feet

Related Read: Best Time to Visit New Hampshire

3. Artists Bluff Trail

Credit: Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

Artists Bluff Trail is a fantastic trail that takes you to Bald Mountain. You get to have a stunning panoramic view that will be in your memory for a lifetime.

Moreover, this is a great hike if you are looking for a good rock scramble. In addition, there are some steep inclines during this trail. Therefore, it is important to make sure to bring proper shoes.

Furthermore, while this trail can be challenging, it is still kid and dog friendly. However, your dog will need to be on a leash.

On an important note, make sure to be careful and wary of your surroundings as you make your way through the trail. There have been many sightings of bears around the area.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.5 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 436 feet

4. Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Loop

Credit: Robert Linsdell / Flickr

The Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Loop Trail will take you on a journey to the highest falls in New Hampshire. In addition, you can see more falls while on this trail.

There are many side trails that connect to the Arethusa Falls Trail. Therefore, you may want to check them out and view their waterfalls. Two falls that you can view are Bemis Falls and Coliseum Falls, each of them gives you a beautiful view.

This trail starts at the parking lot and takes you to the old Conway railroad tracks. Here, you go towards the right along Frankenstein Cliff Trail.

While the Frankenstein Cliff trail can be pretty challenging, the views are well worth it. Furthermore, while on Frankenstein Cliff, you get to have the opportunity to see Arethusa Falls from afar.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 4.9 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 1,637 feet

Related Read: 15 Best Waterfalls in New Hampshire

5. North Pack Monadnock Mountain via Wapack Trail

Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region / Flickr

The Wapack Trail is great for those who want to bring their kids on a trail with them. While this trail is moderately challenging, it is still fun for the kids! You can also bring your dog, but they need to be on a leash.

Once you arrive at the summit, you can rest or have a picnic! Furthermore, the views that you will have at the summit are incredible!

While this trail has some wonderful views, it also has quite a lot of bugs. Therefore, you should make sure to bring some bug spray with you!

If visiting this trail in the winter, there will be plenty of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. While in the summer, you may encounter hikers.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.1 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 964 feet

6. Lonesome Lake Trail

Credit: Christian Collins / Flickr

The Lonesome Lake Trail is a steady incline with several steep sections up Cannon Mountain. However, these steep sections will be worth it as the view of the charming Lonesome Lake is exceptional.

While you are hiking to Lonesome Lake, you will want to make sure you look around as you get many beautiful views. An example of a view that you get is Franconia Ridge!

Once you reach the lake, you will not have any tough inclines or steep areas. The lake is surrounded by grass and is fairly easy to walk around. Furthermore, the trail will be great for a hot day as it offers plenty of shade.

In the summer months, you may want to bring hiking poles for hiking up Cannon Mountain. Whereas, in the winter months, you may want to bring microspikes for the snow.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.1 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 1,026 feet

7. Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

Credit: GPA Photo Archive / Flickr

The Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail is a beautiful and well-known hike in the White Mountains. This is where you get spectacular views of New England, and you can ascend three peaks!

One of the three peaks that you will climb is Mount Lafayette. It is the highest mountain outside the Presidential Range!

Starting at Falling Waters Trail, you have the chance to observe two beautiful waterfalls. The Stairs Falls and the Cloudland Falls both offer plenty of beauty and serenity.

After you are done watching the stunning waterfalls, you can explore Little Haystack Mountain. At this mountain is the intersection to the Franconia Ridge Trail; make sure to stop and look around at the beautiful views!

Once you are done at Little Haystack Mountain, you can walk to Mount Lincoln and then Mount Lafayette. Each of these mountains gives you beautiful panoramic views!

While you can explore this hike anywhere from April through October, make sure to visit on a clear day. Those that visit on a clear day have the wonderful opportunity to view Mount Washington and President Range!

On an important note, make sure to check the weather before visiting this trail. It is best to bring water, hiking boots, and poles or microspikes in the winter.

Furthermore, some sections are not marked well. So, you may want to download the offline map before you visit.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 9.3 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 3,809 feet

Related Read: 20 Cabin & Treehouse Rentals in New Hampshire

8. The Flume Gorge Trail

Credit: Gary Mowry / AllTrails

The Flume Gorge Trail is a stunning and marvelous trail that gives you memories of a lifetime! There is so much that this trail has to offer that you will want to make sure you see everything.

There is a beautiful boardwalk that you can walk on, and you have the opportunity to see waterfalls, wildflowers, moss, and trees. However, this trail consists of many stairs and uphill walking.

This will be a great trail to visit with your kids. There is even a twenty-minute movie that showcases the Franconia Notch State Park!

Moreover, there is plenty of history about this trail. It was discovered in 1808 by 93-year-old Aunt Jess Guernsey. She came across it while fishing!

At the time that Aunt Jess Guernsey came across this trail, there was an egg-shaped boulder suspended between the walls.

However, a storm moved the boulder from the trail, even deepening the gorge and forming Avalanche Falls! However, the egg-shaped boulder was never found after the storm.

On an important note, this trail requires a reservation on their website. There is an admission fee as well from May to October. However, it is perfect for those that want to get away from city life.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 488 feet

9. Mount Moosilauke and South Peak Loop

Credit: Tim Sackton / Flickr

The Mount Moosilauke and South Peak Loop Trail is perfect for those that want a trail with a bit of history and views! Throughout this trail, you get to have a gorgeous panoramic view of the White Mountains.

At the summit of Mount Moosilauke, you can see some of the remains of the historic Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. Furthermore, you can see a river, wildlife, and the beautiful forest nearby.

This trail is open year-round. If you visit in the winter, it will be a great place to ski or snowshoe. However, those that snowshoe should use microspikes and crampons; otherwise, it can be challenging.

On an important note, roads may be closed due to seasonal closure. Therefore, you should make sure to check their informational website before visiting.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 8.2 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 2,506 feet

10. Mount Willard Trail

Credit: Jaine / Flickr

The Mount Willard Trail is perfect for intermediate hikers. It provides a steep hike with stunning views of Crawford Notch and the range.

During this trail, you have the opportunity to view a waterfall cascade and the centennial pool. However, there are a few water crossings and rocky terrains at the summit to look out for.

Those that enjoy having a picnic on their trails will surely enjoy this one! This trail offers great areas to stop and rest or eat with a perfect view.

Furthermore, while the best times to visit this trail are May through October, it is open year-round. In the winter months, you have the opportunity to snowshoe.

On another note, this trail has been reported not to be well marked. Therefore, you may want to download the offline map before visiting.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.1 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 895 feet

Related Read: 17 Best Romantic Getaways in New Hampshire

11. Diana's Baths

Credit: alh1 / Flickr

Diana's Baths Trail is located in White Mountain National Forest and is a great place to spend your afternoon. With the ability to explore nature's beautiful wonders, this trail will be perfect for anybody!

At Diana's Baths, there is plenty to see. You can discover rocks, cascading waterfalls, pools, and ledges. The cascading waterfall is seventy-five feet tall! Moreover, there are plenty of benches for resting.

Furthermore, this trail is perfect for kids and visitors that use wheelchairs or mobility equipment. The path is primarily gentle grade at 5% or less.

The steep sections are at 0.6 to 0.7 miles when exploring this trail southwest. Those using a wheelchair or mobility equipment may need assistance during those steeper sections.

The trail width is eight feet, and the surface consists of dirt and leaves. However, wheelchair, mobility equipment, and stroller users may want to use all-terrain tires.

On an important note, there is a $5 parking fee. In addition to this, parking spots tend to be limited, so visiting early is recommended.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.3 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 118 feet

12. Starr King and Kilkenny Ridge Trail

Credit: george winslow / AllTrails

For those that want a trail that offers camping and is great with backpacking, this is it. This trail takes you through a stunning hardwood forest with plenty of gorgeous views.

It is an outstanding trail for beginner and intermediate hikers without being too strenuous. The course begins at a gentle incline and does not get very steep. Plus, once you reach 3,000 feet, you get to see beautiful evergreens!

Once you reach Starr King, you get to have plenty of stunning views of the Presidential Range. You will not want to miss this trail! There is also plenty of wildlife that you can discover.

However, this trail frequently has a lot of bugs. Therefore, you may want to bring bug spray.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 6.9 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 2,729 feet

13. Mount Monadnock via White Dot and White Cross Trails

Credit: Doug Kerr / Flickr

The White Dot and White Cross Trails are perfect for those that enjoy a challenging scramble! Mount Monadnock is a well-known and frequently hiked mountain that over 125,000 people climb a year!

This trail is popular for a reason. You get to have beautiful 360 views of the surrounding area at the summit. However, at the summit, it typically gets very windy. Therefore, make sure to bring additional layers.

Furthermore, this trail requires reservations to be made before arriving. You may need to plan ahead to ensure availability. Moreover, there is an entrance fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 3.8 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 1,774 feet

14. Mount Washington via Tuckerman Ravine and Lion Head Trail

Credit: JJBers / Flickr

The Tuckerman Ravine and Lion Head Trails are excellent for those that like a challenge. These trails take you to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the White Mountains!

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail also passes through Hermit Lake Shelters. You can observe the ravine and a stunning waterfall at the Hermit Lake Shelters.

While this trail is subject to bad weather, it can be a great hike on clear days and in good conditions. However, you will want to keep checking the weather and bring the proper equipment to ensure safety.

Furthermore, there are no trail markings on Tuckerman's Ravine. You may want to bring an offline map.

While this is not the only trail for hiking up Mount Washington, it is still a fantastic one to choose. It offers plenty of beautiful views and is perfect for those that like an additional challenge.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 7.4 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 4,242 feet

15. Mount Garfield Trail

Credit: Northfoot Adventures / Flickr

The Mount Garfield Trail is a well-marked and clear trail through a beautiful forest. It is moderate but will be great for beginners that want a little challenge.

This trail is level for most of the course. However, in the last portion, there will be some steep inclines to the summit. At 0.2 miles to the summit, the Mount Garfield Trail will intersect with the Garfield Ridge Trail.

This hike is also dog friendly! While they may need to be on a leash in certain areas, there are areas where they can be off-leash.

There are some roads that may be closed during the winter season. Therefore, you will want to check the information site for any closings.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 9.6 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 2,988 feet

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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