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10 Best State Parks in New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a small state in New England, in the US that is distinct for its quaint little towns and vast expanses of wilderness. It is famous for the winter sports areas on the White Mountain National Forest and Mount Washington, the highest peak in the region.

In New Hampshire, you can experience all sorts of outdoor adventures and enjoy the alluring nature at its complete best. Soaring peaks, green forests, and the ultimate lakes are just a few of the magnificent beauties of nature found here.

A significant reason to visit the NH State parks would be the unending popularity of mountain biking. New Hampshire state parks cover nearly 164000 acres of forests and natural areas. 

State Parks in New Hampshire
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Let us discover a little more about New Hampshire’s state parks. New Hampshire has:

  1. 42 State Parks
  2. 4 State Forests
  3. 1 National Forest
  4. 1 National Wildlife Refuge

Mountain Bikers would love to go on an adventure of a lifetime here not just to beat the traffic but also to commune with nature.

The activities are endless at the NH State parks and its visitors would love to go camping among its beautiful natural landscapes, hike to the highest mountain, or go fishing on the lakeside.

With so many terrific resources available in one State, the entire experience will be priceless to anyone visiting it. To give you an overview and a small guide, this article will cover the top 10 best NH State Parks.

1. The Top 10 Best State Parks in New Hampshire

Here are the top 10 state parks in New Hampshire that you must explore.

1.1. Bear Brook State Park

Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown is one of the largest New Hampshire State Parks. The entire park stretches around 10000 acres and has been named after a stream ‘the Bear Brook’ that runs through it.

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There are plenty of things to do here at Bear Brook State Park. As the largest of all state parks in New Hampshire, Bear Brook has excellent camping facilities, picnic areas, and over 40 miles of hiking trails.

Some of the activities at Bear Brook are:

  1. Swimming and Fishing Ponds
  2. An Archery Range
  3. A Ball Field and Playground
  4. Canoe and Rowboat Rentals
  5. Physical Fitness Course

With such a large variety of activities and things to do to choose from, you and your family will rarely be disappointed. There are shelters, picnic tables, and a bathhouse that can be used by all who visit the park.

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History buffs will love to find historic buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps here at Bear Brook Park. They are:

  1. New Hampshire Snowmobile Museum
  2. Old Allenstown Meeting House
  3. The Richard Diel Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

1.2. Pawtuckaway State Park

Pawtuckaway State Park is one of the most beautiful NH state parks as it forms a part of the Pawtuckaway Lake and Pawtuckaway Mountains.

As the largest state park in Southeastern New Hampshire, it extends from the west shore of Pawtuckaway Lake to the west side of the Pawtuckaway Mountains.

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The State Park has many recreational activities and families would love to explore the 5000-acre preserve by having a wonderful time. Some of the lovely things to do at Pawtuckaway State Park are the following:

  1. Enjoying a Boat Ride
  2. Going for Fishing
  3. Swimming at the Lake
  4. Canoeing and Paddle-Boarding
  5. Hiking and Mountain Biking

1.2.1. Hiking Trails at Pawtuckaway State Park

There are many hiking trails at the Pawtuckaway State Park. There are around thirty-two miles of hiking trails leading up to the 900-foot summit of Pawtuckaway Mountain. The top three hiking trails at Pawtuckaway State Park are – 

  1. South Mountain Lookout Tower Trail
  2. North Mountain Lookout Trail
  3. North Mountain and Boulder Trail Loop

1.3. Odiorne Point State Park

The Odiorne Point State Park is a delightful state park found on the seacoast in Rye near Portsmouth. It can be described as one of the best family-friendly state parks in New Hampshire with many interesting activities for everyone in the family.

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1.3.1. Attractions at The Odiorne Point Park

  1. The Seacoast Science Center – Offers educational programs for all ages such as touch tanks to experience sea life in a more practical manner.

  2. World war ii Bunkers -Find the remains of Fort dearborn, and have an adventure at a place that was once the first European settlement.

For all visitors who love the ocean and rocky shores, Odiorne State Park is a wonderful place for the best panoramic views. There are charming picnic areas and extensive trails for those who wish to spend quality get-togethers with families and friends alike.

So, take time to enjoy the Odiorne Point State Park by going on any of the following delightful activities:

  1. Canoeing
  2. Walking Trails
  3. Bike Riding
  4. Cross-country skiing during the winter season
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1.4. Milan Hill State Park

Milan Hill State Park is a 102-acre state park located in the town of Milan. It is nestled far into the Great North Woods and is just less than three miles away from the Androscoggin River.

Milan Hill State Park is a great spot for many outdoor activities such as – 

  1. Hiking and Mountain biking
  2. Canoeing, Kayaking, and Fishing
  3. Hunting and Wildlife viewing
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Visitors to Milan Hill State Park will love to have an overnight stay in order to experience the awesome facilities offered at their camping grounds. It features regular standard camping tents and four yurts that offer much more comfort.

If you wish you can also take a short drive to the Jericho Mountain State Park and participate in world-class hiking trails. Whenever you have a chance to drive down to the town of Milan, come over and experience the beauty of Milan Hill State Park.

With lovely scenic views such as the majestic White mountains, you are sure to carry with you some of the most memorable sights of a lifetime.

1.5. Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park is right in the center of the White Mountain National Forest in the Northern part of New Hampshire. It also passes through Franconia Notch which is a mountain pass that lies between the Kinsman Range and Franconia Range.

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One of few NH State Parks that offers splendid attractions to visitors such as –

  1. Flume Gorge – This is a natural gorge and has waterfalls and a covered bridge. A cafeteria, a gift shop, a restroom, and historical displays are available at the Gilman Visitor Center in Flume Gorge.
  2. The Beautiful Echo and Profile Lakes 
  3. Historic Site of the Old Man of the Mountain
  4. Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
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The following are the fantastic things to do at the Franconia Notch State Park:

  1. Hiking and Mountain Biking
  2. Cross Country Skiing and Snowboarding in Winter
  3. Fishing and Ice Fishing
  4. Pleasure Boating

Franconia Notch State Park also has several hiking trails beginning from its locations. They are –

  1. 4000 -footers Cannon
  2. North and South Kingsman
  3. Lincoln, Flume, and Liberty
  4. Pemigewasset Trail
  5. Lonesome Lake Trail

1.5.1. The Lafayette Place Campground

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The Lafayette Place Campground is found within the park, and visitors can choose 98 sites to choose the right camping site. All the sites are well equipped with the following:

  1. Picnic tables
  2. A Fire Pit
  3. Car Parking
  4. Flush Operated Toilets and Coin operated showers
  5. Wood, Ice, and Basic Provisions
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1.5.2. The Cannon Mountain RV Park

The Cannon Mount RV Park is another Camping ground that has seven sites. It is found on the north shore of Echo Lake and is open all year round.

1.6. Miller State Park

Miller State Park is known as the first state park in New Hampshire to be established in the year 1891. It was famously named after General James Miller who fought in the 1812 war.

Pack Monadnock Mountain situated at the Miller State Parks stands tall at 2290 feet and you can reach its summit by choosing any of the five routes available.

You will be enthralled to know that many years ago visitors to the park usually rode a horse or a wagon to have picnics and enjoy the view from the top of the mountain.

Modern visitors travel by their vehicles on a paved road or choose a hiking trail that generally ranges from 1.4 miles to 3.8 miles.

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1.6.1. Walking Trails at Miller State Park

  1. Wapack Trail – The trail starts right at the main entrance and has steeper options for ascending the mountain.
  2. Marion Davis Trail – The trail has better-graded options for descending from the mountain.

1.6.2. Best Amenities at The Miller State Park

  1. Interpretive Signs
  2. Picnic Tables
  3. Outhouses
  4. Potable Water available at the Summit
  5. Old Shelter to take shade from the weather
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One of the top things to do at Miller State Park would be to go on a trail that leads to the Audubon Society Raptor’s Viewing Area and watch hawks during the fall migration.

There is also a fire tower built in 1939 that still stands on the top of the mountain where you can view some splendid sights. The following are the sights that can be viewed from the summit area:

  1. White Mountains
  2. Mount Monadnock
  3. Manchester
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Boston, Massachusetts

One of the most beautiful of all state parks in New Hampshire, the Miller State Park has many lovely things to do and places to see. Do visit and enjoy a pleasant time with your family and friends.

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1.7. Pillsbury State Park

Pillsbury State Park is mainly located in Washington and is also partially part of Goshen as well. One of the most primitive and lesser-known parks among the NH state parks, it can be described as a land filled with lovely landscapes that range from dense forests to lush wetlands, and quiet ponds.

A perfect destination to relax with the family and explore its tranquil ponds. A fun fact to know about Pillsbury State Park is that it was known as the Cherry Valley in the early 1800s. Today, visitors hike its trails to look for cellar holes and stone walls to experience a slice of the past.

The most prominent trail that runs through the park is known as the Monadnock-Sunapee-Greenway Trail. It leads up to the Lucia’s Lookout outside the park. Other trails in Pillsbury State Park will bring you to beautiful ponds and Balance Rock.

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1.7.1. The Narrows Trail

  1. Kids would love to go on this trail.
  2. Has a fun interpretive guide to help understand the surroundings
  3. It reaches the Butterfield Pond
  4. Lovely trees and plants such as the Black Spruce, Rhodora Azalea, Lowbush Blueberry, and Wintergreen can be seen along the way

Camping and Paddling are well-known activities at Pillsbury State Park. Many families love to spend several days camping here too. While you can rent canoes and kayaks for rent, you should be aware that since it is a natural habitat for wildlife, you need to watch out for moose, loons, turtles, and ducks.

The family campsites at Pillsbury State Park is a picturesque location that offers both a primitive experience and a modern outlook. Take a break from your routine and drive down with your family to enjoy the fantastic views of the mountains.

1.8. North Hampton State Park

A small state park among the NH state parks, the North Hampton State Park is found in the town of North Hampton. It is home to the beautiful Sandy Beach with an indulgent bathhouse.

The lovely Sandy Beach area has much to offer to its visitors. Families would be delighted to swim and picnic here. There are amazing water-based activities such as boating, fishing, sea kayaking, and sailing. Other facilities at the North Hampton State Park include metered parking.

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1.9. Hampton Beach State Park

One of the few NH state parks that has an excellent beach on the Atlantic Ocean is Hampton Beach, State Park. For all-year-round recreation, many visitors head to Sandy Beach. There are many activities and things to do at Hampton Beach State Park.

  1. Swimming in the vast ocean
  2. Fishing
  3. Having a Picnic
  4. Enjoying RV camping (recreational vehicle) with full hookups on the campground.
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Hampton Beach State Park is actually situated on a peninsula wherein the Hampton River meets the Atlantic Ocean. As it is bordered by Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach State Park has a large beach with excellent facilities such as:

  1. Life Guards
  2. First Aid Station
  3. Public Restrooms
  4. Amphitheater
  5. A Pavilion
  6. Children’s Playground
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Hampton beach also has two modern bathhouses at the following locations:

  1. North End- Near the Marine Memorial
  2. South End- Near the Haverhill Street

The RV park is open for reservations all from Memorial day to Labor Day. You can walk in for camping in late April as well. Visitors can choose to stay at any of the 28 sites that are available for camping at the Hampton Beach State Park.

1.10. Mount Washington State Park

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The charming Mount Washington State Park is located high up on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern part of the United States

The 60-acre area of Mount Washington State Park is surrounded by the enchanting 750000-acre White Mountain National Forest. With spectacular views, the 6288-foot summit extends as far as 130 miles to Vermont and New York.

The modern summit building known as the Sherman Adams Building can also be viewed from the summit. It famously houses the Sherman Adams Visitor Center, the historic Tip Top house, and the Mount Washington Observatory. Other amenities include a cafeteria, restrooms gift shops, and a museum.

1.10.1. How to Access Mount Washington State Park?

Mount Washington Auto Road, the Appalachian Trail, and hiking trails such as the Pinkham Notch, Crawford Notch, and the Cog Railway Base Station are some of the ways to reach Mount Washington, State Park. Taking the Mount Washington Cog Railway is one of the 15 Amazing Things to Do in New Hampshire.

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1.10.2. Historical Significance of Mount Washington State Park

  1. Darby Field was the first to climb the summit of Mount Washington in 1642.
  2. He was guided by Native Americans.
  3. The construction of the auto road began in 1854 but the after the funds ran dry in 1856, the Mount Washington Summit Road Company took over the completion of the building in 1859.
  4. The Cog Railway completed the entire construction in 1869.
  5. A major fire caused the destruction of all the buildings in 1908 but Tip-Top House survived it.
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2. Why Should You Visit State Parks in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire State Parks are perfect for everyone who has a passion for any outdoor activity. The tiny state has so much to offer its guests that there are as many as a million people visiting its gorgeous oceanside parks and lakes every year.

Many love to spend time at the sandy beaches in the state and it is said that this lovely location can inspire anyone with the least bit of motivation for the outdoors.

It is true, no doubt the White Mountains of New Hampshire are the perfect setting for climbing and hiking and the lakes are a breathtaking beauty. Visiting New Hampshire State Parks therefore can become the adventure that anyone has ever wanted.

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Final Words

State parks in New Hampshire are worth taking a trip to because they take you much further than their rugged countryside and wilderness.

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The charming and quaint towns of New Hampshire will deepen your love affair with the beautiful landscapes of the awesome countryside goodness. Its numerous state parks and nature reserves will leave you breathless and astounded.

So the next time you decide to visit New Hampshire, do take a look at the top 10 best state parks in New Hampshire mentioned here to get the ultimate guide for an incredible journey.

Click here for interesting information about New York.

Also, check out, How Big is Central Park

Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by jyoti