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Trips & Destinations
Please note that, although we have traveled over many trails and many areas of the White Mountain National Forest (and other places in NH), we can't report on all of them. And we, regretfully, can't answer every specific question on trail conditions or on specific hikes. At least once a week we receive a question that goes something like, "Can you give me some ideas for a hike of X miles, for a hiker with X experience?" Believe me, we'd love to answer all of these inquiries, but then we'd never get anything else done on the site! So, the answer is: check our trips page. That's what it's there for.
Answers to other questions can be found below. Thanks for visiting Hike-NH.com.
What are the best places to avoid on the weekends?
If I were me, and I am, I would stay away from the busier, more popular mountains such as Monadnock, Chocorua, and Mt. Major. These often see as many as 500-1000 hikers in a day. And no matter where you go from NH 16 and Interstate 93, you will see traffic on the weekends. Although NH 16 will be more crowded since it's only one lane in the WMNF sections. Also, be wary of the Kankamagus Highway at any time during "Leaf Peeping" season. The traffic will begin from the turnoff at Rt. 16 and continue for the entire length as the Flatlanders come up here to look at trees because, apparently, there are no trees left down there. The busses do provide a nice blue haze from their unregulated, choking exhaust, though. You might also want to avoid North Conway itself unless you wish to experience this quaint mountain town at 2 m.p.h. This is due mainly to the fact that there are "outlet" stores all along the way and the cheapskates from down south shop and drive like lemmings so they can avoid the sales tax they enacted on themselves back home.
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What's your favorite mountain to hike, and why?
The one you aren't on. Because you're not on it. No, seriously:
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I really like the Whiteface hike, because it's not too long, but long enough to keep most inexperienced hikers at bay. It's not too steep, but steep enough to get your heart pumping. It has several stops before the summit with incredible views in several directions, perfect for "fiver". And it has several different trails that lead you to others peaks, so you can turn a one day hike into a weekend, should the urge strike you.
Of everything I've done I like Tripyramid the best. The route we took provided one of the most enjoyable hikes I've ever had with spectacular views from the valley floor as we walked in to our campsite. And the walk along the old logging road as we approached the mountain was just like one pictures New England to be on a postcard. Finally, the North Slide was challenging enough that inexperienced people generally don't try it, but not so much to wreck the enjoyment. The views of Waterville Valley were great, and the hike out follows a different route with its own great views of the summit.
Where can I take my wife/husband and her/his mother on a nice nature hike that isn't too strenuous?
Try the plant/produce aisle of your local supermarket. Actually, we suggest the Black Pond hike, because it is relatively short, follows a well marked, wide trail, often has many others hiking there, and it follows the rather scenic Pemigewassett River most of the way. You can also visit Sawyer Pond(where Rob almost drowned ... but that's a story for a different day). Except for the abundance of mountain bikers and a couple of small stream crossings this is an easy hike. A slightly more demanding hike is to the Arethusa Falls (the tallest falls in NH at a whopping 100 feet). All of these hikes are off the Kancamagus Highway, which is easily accessible from NH 16 or Interstate 93.
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Do you have any recommendations for hikes in southern NH that can be done with a 5 year-old?
As far as peaks go in southern New Hampshire, there are really only two choices: Monadnock and Pawtuckaway. They are both short hikes, relatively easy, and easily accessible. The main drawback is that they are extremely crowded -- especially Monadnock. I have heard rumors this year that the overcrowding has gotten so bad that on Monadnock that they are limiting the number of people allowed to climb. I believe that our local NPR station said they were taking reservations, although I find this very difficult to believe. Both of these peaks are described in theWhite Mountain Guide, which is available online from our page. Just follow the bookslink.
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Having a five year-old along changes the requirements for a good hike a bit. Of these two peaks I believe that Pawtuckaway is better suited -- the trails are wider, flatter, and require no climbing over rocks. The very top of Monadnock requires some scrambling to reach the summit no matter which route you take. Plus the Pawtuckaway hike takes place within Pawtuckaway State Park, where there are other activities like swimming if the hike wears out either the little body or the attention span.
Remember that a good hike doesn't have to involve a climb. In fact, this may be a better plan with a child along, at least until you get an idea of their abilities and willingness. With this in mind, both Pawtuckaway and Monadnock offer miles of trails that don't require a climb. Once again, I would suggest Pawtuckaway as the better initial choice.
Additionally, there are some other areas that are often overlooked in southern New Hampshire. Try the seacoast area for example. You can take an enjoyable walk through the historic part of downtown Portsmouth, including Prescott Park and Strawberry Banke. Or, you could try Odiorne Point State Park and explore the remains of an old W.W. II fort, all on wide flat paths, and near sandy beaches. A few miles away, you can find two of my favorite areas on the shore of Great Bay: Adam's Point in Durham (off of Durham Point Road) or the National Wildlife Refuge on the former Pease Air Force Base. Adam's Point offers an ~2 mile loop trail that takes you on an interpreted journey through a 19th century homestead on the shore of Great Bay. The property is currently occupied by the Jackson Estuarine Lab. The trail takes you from a salt water coastline through open fields and hardwood forest. It makes a great short daytrip. Combine this with a loop hike of the Wildlife Refuge, and you can have a great day outside in nature without ever really being more the 15 minutes from your car in case someone gets bored.
Finally, if you are willing to do the drive, there are a few areas of the White Mountains that might be suitable. Again, theWhite Mountain Guideis the place to start. Look in the back for a listing of easy hikes. One that sounds particularly interesting is a hike on the Boulder Loop Trail, a nature trail that forms a 3.1 mile loop. A slightly more ambitious hike would be a 6 mile round trip to Big Rock Cave. Of course, you might also check out our Black Pond hike.
Is there a shuttle service I can use for my hikes?
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There are a number of hotels and motels that provide shuttle service for their patrons, but the best place to go if you don't know where you're staying is:
White Mountain Shuttle Services
292 Main Street, Apt. 35
Gorham, NH 03581
Can you recommend a hike about 5 miles long?
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If you are looking for a flat hike, check out Franconia Falls off the Kancamagus Highway
If you are looking for a peak, try Mt. Chocorua via the Piper Trail. It will be crowded, but it's a nice hike and not too difficult (Chris and roommate Hank RAN this trail in college - no kidding).
Can you recommend a hike about 10 miles long?
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If you are looking for a flat hike, check out the Unknown Pond off 110.
If you are looking for a peak, try the Carters; Carter Lake, Carter Dome, and Mt. Hight. We think Mt. Hight is one of the unknown jewels of the White Mountains.
Can you recommend a hike about 20 miles long?
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There are so many answers to this question, it boggles the mind. Check out the Cohos Trail in northern NH (http://www.cohostrail.org). Or try one of Chris' favorites, North Twin to South Twin, Garfield and Lafayette. It's not a loop, but you can park your retrieval car at the parking lot of Cannon Mountain. And you'll just LOVE the false peaks at the end of the hike ascending Lafayette - all seven of them!
Can you recommend a good Overnight hike/overnight with children?
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We are going to answer this question as a single answer, because we assume if you are going to take your child on an overnight hike, he/she can handle him/herself in the woods. If this is not the case, do us all a favor and wait until they are old/experienced enough - or take them to a campground.
Our favorite overnight hike was the Tripyramids, becuase there was plenty of room for camping and we had many choices for day hikes.