11 Great New Hampshire Hikes for Kids
By Fred Shirley and Wayne King
By Fred Shirley and Wayne King
|The Lone Chief|
There is a lot we adults can (re)learn from children, and among the best places for doing that are the woods and mountains. Approaching the outdoors experience from a childlike- perspective can renew your mind, body and spirit. So even if you don’t have a child of your own, grab one (with permission of course) and try a few of these great hikes in NH.
Welch and Dickey Loop: Located on the southern portion of the Waterville Range, Welch and Dickey mountains are an easy day hike for the family. A short hike with big mountain experiences. The shoulder and summit of Welch are bare as a result of an old wildfire that stipped most of the trees and shrubs from the summit creating multiple opportunities for a rest with a view. A four mile loop makes this a challenge that even younger children can handle. Don’t miss the chance to spot the Lone Chief of the Valley at the summit!
Pitcher Mountain is located in southern NH near the town of Stoddard, about 50 miles west of Manchester. This is one of our favorite mountains because it is a relatively easy climb to a picturesque summit with a fire lookout tower. If you happen to be here when a fire warden is present, you may get invited up into the lookout cabin; otherwise, you will have to be satisfied with the view from the stairway just below. The NH Division of Forests and Lands promotes a Fire Lookout Tower Quest program, of which this tower is a participant. You can find more information about mountain towers on the NH Mountain Hiking website (www.nhmountainhiking.com), via the Hikes to Towers Cross-reference Mountain List.
Mount Cardigan is located in Alexandria, NH not far from the shores of Newfound Lake. It too is one of the few mountains in NH with an operational firetower. For a very short hike approach the mountain from the west side through Canaan and take the 1.5 mile West Side Trail to the summit. For a different and more challenging approach, try the Holt Trail from the east. The Holt trail is not recommended for your descent as the top part is steep and dangerous going down.
|Mt Cardigan View|
Little Monadnock Mountain is located in southwest NH near the town of Fitzwilliam, not too far from its famous big brother Grand Monadnock Mountain. The hiking trail starts within Rhododendron State Park, which provides a bonus attraction in July when these gorgeous flowers are in bloom. This, the largest grove of wild rhododendrons (Rhododendron maximum) in northern New England, has been designated a National Natural Landmark. Beyond the park, the Little Monadnock Trail meanders peacefully up the mountainside through second-growth woods – with opportunities to discover flowers and critters – up to a ledge outlook.
Mount Willard, strategically located at the top of Crawford Notch, is promoted as having the best view-for-effort in the entire White Mountains. Folks even get married here! If you were a pirate captain, this could be your lookout to spy on traffic driving up Route 302 toward your secret hideaway. There are some extraordinary buildings to explore near the trailhead, including Crawford Depot – a railway station from a bygone era – and the Mount Washington Hotel – one of NH’s few remaining “grand hotels” built a century ago.
|View From Mt. Willard|
|A Spring Symphony of Lupine Cards Fine Art Print|
pitcher.jpg (Fred Shirley Photo)
Kate hangs on tight descending Pitcher Mountain’s fire lookout tower.
osceola.jpg (Fred Shirley Photo)
A mom-and-son hiker pair checks out the awesome view from Mount Osceola.
BlueberryMtBentonTowardMoosilaukee65.jpg (Wayne King Photo)
A stone bench made by hikers looks from Blueberry Mountain to Mt Moosilaukee.
www.nhmountainhiking.com Each mountain listed here has a hotlink to photos and driving/hiking directions. Or, see the website’s Hikes by Location list to find mountains near where you may be staying. This set of lists includes a difficulty color code, with mountains in green text being the easiest and therefore most suitable for kids.
Ed's Note: from www.HeartofNH.com used with permission