The trees across New Hampshire are starting to display their vibrant fall colors. In addition to the changing of the leaves, the moderate temperatures and limited annoying bugs, fall is a great time to get out and explore! Here are five can’t miss hikes this foliage season, perfect for even the most novice hiker.
#1 Pitcher Mountain
This small mountain is great for beginners new and old. For very little effort you will be rewarded with amazing views of southwest New Hampshire, and on really clear days, the high peaks of the White Mountain National Forest and neighboring Vermont are visible. With plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a picnic, you can rest and recharge before heading back down.
Pitcher Mountain Route 124 Stoddard NH
#2 Mount Kearsarge
Venture up the “short side” of Mount Kearsarge from Rollins State Park in Warner NH. A mountain auto road takes you up to a large picnic area just below the summit. From the parking lot atop the auto road it is a short half mile hike up to the top. Along the way kids will have a chance to scramble up some rocky terrain and feel like rock climbers.
If your family wants a harder hike, try the “long side” from Winslow State Park in Wilmont. The hike is a moderate 1.7 miles to the top via the Barlow trail.
Rollins State Park or Winslow State Park
$4 Adults $2 Children 6-12 Kids 5 and under Free
#3 Black Cap
Located just outside North Conway, Black Cap is a small peak that is big on views. The trail is an easy 2.5 mile round-trip hike and near the top it features some fun above the treeline scrambling. Views of North Conway and the White Mountain National Forest will have you seeing a rainbow of colors for miles.
Black Cap Hurricane Mountain Road North Conway
#4 Pack Monadnock
Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park is peak that has a way up for everyone, yes EVERYONE. The easiest trail up is the 1.3 mile Marion Davis trail which climbs moderately up the eastern side. There is also the Wapack Trail which is slightly more challenging than the Marion Davis trail. For a fun challenge check out the Raymond trail that starts just outside the park and has some great scrambles along the way. Have a family member who can’t hike? Check out the auto road that winds its way to the summit. At the summit you will find a large Fire-tower, bathrooms, picnic areas and a seasonal snack stand. The fall is one of the best times to climb Pack because they do a “Raptor Release” count, where birdwatchers stand guard and count all the Hawks and Eagles as the start their migration, sometimes as many as a couple thousand (Yes! THOUSANDS!) in a single day!
Miller State Park Peterborough NH $4/Adult $2/Child 6-11 Free 5 and under
#5 Willard Mountain
I’m fairly sure its illegal to write a “foliage hike list” without including Willard in Crawford Notch. This small peak is pretty amazing. An easy climb that finishes as you walk through a tunnel of trees towards the open ledges. At the ledges you will be greeted with impressive views of the notch below, the southern presidential range and the Willey Range. If your lucky you can watch a trail ramble it’s way through the notch. Once your done, be sure to check out the Crawford Notch Depot gift shop and don’t skip the short walk to the AMC Highland Center for some playtime on the Naturescape playground they have.
Crawford Notch State Park Route 302
As always, remember to hike prepared. If you need help figuring out exactly what you need to bring on a hike visit www.hikesafe.com for all the information you need to venture through New Hampshire safely. Also consider purchasing a Hike Safe Card. This card helps offset the cost associated with Search and Rescues that the New Hampshire Fish and Game officers get called to when an emergency happens in the mountains.