Franconia RidgePhoto Credit : Taylor Thomas
Offering both outdoor adventures and Instagram-worthy views, New Hampshire is home to some of the most spectacular hikes in the country. The trail options run the gamut from 4,000-footers to more casual family-oriented jaunts. Looking to make some elevation? Then read on for our selection of the best hiking trails in New Hampshire.
To be sure, this nine-mile round-trip trek is challenging — but oh, the rewards. Hikers traverse Franconia Ridge from Little Haystack Mountain before venturing on to Mount Lafayette. In a National Geographic article promoting the “World’s Best Hikes: 20 Dream Trails,” coauthor Jonathan Waterman included it on his list, and for good reason. This is arguably one of the most popular and best hikes New England has to offer, with breathtaking views of the White Mountains.
The show-stopping spectacle of New Hampshire’s tallest waterfall marks the conclusion of this 1.5-mile (one-way) trek. While sections of the trail require some careful navigation over tree roots, this family-friendly hike offers prime territory for young hikers and those rediscovering their nature legs.
This 8.5-mile route brings hikers to the top of one of the most striking-looking peaks in the Whites. The easily identifiable cone-shaped top is visible from miles away, and its 360-degree views extend deep into the region.
This 8.4-mile round-trip hike is rugged and demanding. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s also one of the most rewarding hiking experiences you’ll find east of the Mississippi. Tuck’s dramatic landscape looks like something an overzealous designer created in Photoshop. Its ravine attracts visitors throughout the year, most notably in spring, when daring skiers test their skills against its headwall. The Ravine Trail continues to the top of Mount Washington. But come prepared: A good portion of the hike is above treeline, and the weather up top can change in an instant. During the summer season, water, food, and other supplies can be picked up at the visitors center atop the peak.
More than two centuries after it was created, the nation’s oldest continuously maintained hiking trail, the Crawford Path, still delivers the rugged but accessible adventure that its founders envisioned. Running 8.2 miles (one way), it concentrates the White Mountains experience: steep ascents, sun-soaked plateaus, boulder-strewn peaks. Challenging climbs give way to flat stretches where hikers can linger and take in those panoramics before making the push to reach Mount Washington.
One of New Hampshire’s most beloved natural attractions, the Flume Gorge is the main feature of an easy 2-mile walk through piney woods over hilly terrain. The setting is certainly dramatic: 90-foot cliffs, cascading falls, and the cool dampness of a primordial forest. But there’s also something appealingly Swiss Family Robinson–like about the network of cliff-hugging boardwalks clinging to the walls of this deep granite beauty at the base of Mount Liberty.
Hikers get their money’s worth on this 3.2-mile round-trip hike, which offers fantastic views of Crawford Notch. The trek departs from a lofty neighborhood — which includes the source of the Saco River, a train depot, and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center — and ends at an open perch showcasing the towering Webster Cliffs, historic Willey Slide, and more.
It’s a National Natural Landmark and one of the most-climbed mountains in the world for a reason. Though you can take your pick from any of its beautiful trails, we recommend that first-time Monadnock hikers—or even first-time hikers, which is often the case at this mountain — head up to the top via the White Dot Trail and descend by way of the White Cross Trail (about 4.2 miles up and back). At the bald summit, surrounded by thousands of acres of protected highlands, you can look out toward Boston, nearly 100 miles away.
This 2.9-mile jaunt lets you hike in the Whites Mountains without scaling a huge peak. The trail is mostly wooded but still offers views of the Pemigewasset River, waterfalls, and White Mountains. The well-marked visitors center just off the Kancamagus Highway is your gateway to this popular trail, which runs alongside the Pemigewasset. Most of this hike is very flat and wooded (it’s based on an old railroad bed). Side trails give you the option of making your excursion as strenuous as you’d like.
This 1-mile loop begins in Rollins State Park on an old carriage road that ascends 300 vertical feet in half a mile, and from there it’s a quick scramble to the top of Mount Kearsarge, with its endless views of villages, lakes, and patchwork pastures.