Best New Hampshire Summer Adventures

By Ian Aldrich

Apr 28 2020


Clouds swirl over the summit of Mount Washington, seen from Mount Monroe along
the Crawford Path.

Photo Credit : Chris Shane
New Hampshire is a four-season outdoor adventure playground. But in summer there are enough thrills to fill an entire calendar, and then some. For the Weekends with Yankee episode “To the Top” (season 4, episode 5), we trekked up to Rumney, New Hampshire, where co-host Richard Wiese puts his rock climbing chops to the test at this popular destination for climbers from all over the world. Ready for more New Hampshire summer adventures? There are big peaks to bag, ATV tours to explore, and rivers and lakes to navigate. Read on for a complete list.

Best Ways to Have Fun Outside in New Hampshire This Summer

Hike a Historic Mountain Path

Crawford Path

More than two centuries after it was created, the 8.2-mile Crawford Path — the nation’s oldest continuously maintained hiking trail — still delivers the rugged-but-accessible adventure its creators envisioned. It concentrates the White Mountains experience: steep ascents, sun-soaked plateaus, boulder-strewn peaks. Here is a sweeping view of the Ammonoosuc Ravine; there is a jaw-dropping shot of the Franconia Range. Challenging climbs give way to flat stretches where hikers can linger and take in those panoramics before making the push to reach the Northeast’s highest peak.

Go Deep Sea Fishing & Whale Watching

Al Gauron Deep Sea Fishing & Whale Watching, Hampton Beach

For more than 50 years, the Gauron family has guided fishing trips, fireworks cruises, and close encounters with those most awesome of mammals: humpbacks, minkes, and finbacks. Until you’ve looked a whale in the eye, it’s just another fish story.

Do a Zipline Tour

Mount Sunapee Adventure Park, Newbury

Zipline tours, an aerial challenge course, and off-road Segway excursions are ideal for summer adventurers, while chairlift rides are perfect for those counting down to ski season.

The Canopy Tour at Bretton Woods, Bretton Woods

If you like going along for the ride, consider zipping up to 165 feet above the ground at speeds of up to 30 mph in the heart of the White Mountains. The three-hour guided tour offers a little bit of excitement, a little bit of education, some pretty incredible views, and a whole lot of fun.

Explore a Cave

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, North Woodstock

This giant natural funhouse in Kinsman Notch tells a dramatic tale: Mile-deep glaciers melted into streams that rushed through cracks in the bedrock, eroding them into a gorge. Stones and gravel washed through, scouring and carving potholes and chutes. Then wind and winter freezing took over, tearing huge slabs from the granite walls that fell and covered the river. Today you can climb through the gorge they created, following the brook through caves and narrow passages to see it burst out in waterfalls and swirl in huge potholes, as your kids learn about glaciers and geology and even, for a small fee, pan for gemstones and fossils in the Lost River mining sluice.  

The Canopy Tour at Bretton Woods
Photo Credit : Courtesy Omni Mount Washington Resort

Do an Easy Hike

Mount Willard, Harts Location/Carroll

If the thought of mountain climbing makes you sweat long before leaving your car, wipe your brow and give Mount Willard a try. In less than an hour, you’ll make it to the peak, where jaw-dropping views of Crawford Notch await. The trailhead starts near the AMC visitor center.

Do a Hike That Touches the Clouds

Mount Lincoln to Mount Lafayette, Grafton County

Practically touch the clouds on an above-treeline walk linking two peaks in the Presidential Range, then reward yourself with a glass of lemonade at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Greenleaf Hut. (If you were wise, you also booked a night here to luxuriate in those mile-high vistas.)

Hiking Near Boston for Those Who Love Adventure
Mount Monadnock
Photo Credit : Cathryn McCann

Do America’s Most Popular Day Hike

Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey

Perhaps it’s the proximity to Boston (the city is only a 90-minute drive away) or its long history (hundreds of hikers from as far back as the early 1800s have inscribed their names on the rocks here), but most likely it’s the panoramic views from the peak that have helped Monadnock become the most popular ascent in the Western Hemisphere.

Do a Mega Day Hike

Carter Dome Loop, Pinkham Notch

This 10-mile loop brings you up two high summits — Mount Hight and Carter Dome, which each approach 5,000 feet — and through Carter Notch, an impossibly beautiful mountain pass that’s home to two mirrored lakes and a secluded Appalachian Mountain Club hut serving up tasty soups and snacks. To be sure, the hike via the Nineteen-Mile Brook, Carter-Moriah, and Carter Dome trails is a rigorous one, but the varied terrain and breathtaking scenery are worth it. 

Go Rock Climbing

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway

When your moniker is the Granite State,  you’re allowed to boast about being a great destination for rock climbers. Cathedral Ledge doesn’t disappoint, with its many face and crack-and-corner climbs. The cliffs can be seen west of North Conway. Turn left after the Eastern Slope Inn on Main Street and follow the signs to the parking lot at the base of the ledge. (If you’d rather look than climb, visit nearby Echo Lake State Park. A scenic trail around the lake provides great views of the ledge, and an auto road can get you even closer to the action.)

Learn Wilderness Essentials

Redline Guiding, Intervale

Wondering how to cross a river when there’s no bridge? Preparing to embark on a hike across a glacier? Learn these and other wilderness secrets and skills on professionally guided outdoor adventures in the White Mountains. Mount Washington and other rugged terrains are the year-round classroom for teaching mountaineering essentials such as backcountry camping and navigating with a map and compass. 

Bear Rock Adventures
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

Rev Up an ATV

Bear Rock Adventures, Pittsburgh

Of the four main ATV tours at northern New Hampshire’s Bear Rock Adventures, the full-day ride to Dixville Peak is the one that repays both beginners and advanced riders with million-dollar views.

Cycle a Rail Trail

Northern Rail Trail, Lebanon to Boscawen

Kudos to this 50-mile-plus stretch: It’s been added to “100 Top Trails in the U.S.” by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C. The longest rail trail in the state and still growing, thanks to its devoted volunteers, it glides past farms, orchards, lakes, mill sites, and covered bridges, with possible moose sightings in Grafton and Orange.

Paddleboard Under the Stars

Full Moon Paddleboard, Wolfeboro

This Lake Winnipesaukee fixture offers both lessons and an expedition by moonlight adventure. Yoga instructor Michelle Clarke, who also leads yoga classes on paddleboards during the day, guides the group.

Try a Surf Lesson

Summer Session Surf Lessons, Rye

The staff at Summer Session packs more than 60 years of surfing and teaching experience. Which means you’ll be hanging 10 in no time. Ry and Ty McGill are the owners, and the duo offers private and group lessons at the shop overlooking Rye Beach.

Ride a Horse

Black Mountain Stables, Jackson

Cowboy up for trail ride that will take you to the top of Black Mountain, with stunning views of the surrounding Whites. Expeditions cater to both novices and expert riders. The outfit also offers overnight forays that include a 45-minute ride to a remote cabin, where a barbecue dinner and s’mores around the campfire await.
Flume Gorge, New Hampshire
Flume Gorge

Find the Flume

Flume Gorge, Lincoln

Into the steep-cut slopes of Franconia Notch, a mild-looking little stream carved an 80-foot-deep canyon into the rock. Now one of New Hampshire’s most beloved natural attractions, the Flume is the main feature of a two-mile walk through piney woods over moderately hilly terrain. Along with leading right through the base of the 800-foot gorge, the trail passes mammoth boulders left by the glaciers, a covered bridge, and two waterfalls: Avalanche Falls, above the Flume, and Liberty Gorge Cascade.

Go Hang Gliding

Morningside Flight Park, Charlestown

Situated on the Connecticut River, Morningside offers sweeping views of New Hampshire and Vermont while its gently sloping terrain makes it coveted terrain for beginner and experienced flyers. Lessons are offered for kids and adults; you can even take a tandem flight with a licensed instructor.

Experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride

High 5 Ballooning, Derry

Since 1999 High 5’s owner and chief pilot, Tony Sica, has hosted thousands of passengers from around the globe on hourlong aerial tours of southern New Hampshire. Flights are scheduled seven days a week at sunset and sunrise, when the winds are most calm. The elevated offerings continue after your trip concludes, with free mimosas and a complimentary picnic lunch.