Immersed in the beautiful autumn colors, New Hampshire is known as the ‘Switzerland of America’. Filled with scenic mountains, the state is home to two national park service sites and over 93 state parks.
New Hampshire experiences all four seasons and the best place to witness it would be the national parks the state offers. Filled with wilderness and flora, the state is surrounded by elm, maple, oak, and pine trees.
The two most famous national parks in the Granite State are – the Appalachian National scenic trail and Saint-Gaudens national historic park.
The highest peak Mt. Washington (6288 feet) and one of the most climbed mountains in the US is situated in the parks of New Hampshire.
The parks offer beaches, hiking trails, and historical sites. The tourism boost is mainly by the outdoor recreational activities due to the abundance of dense forests and scenic mountains.
Hosting some of the best locations for outdoor enthusiasts, here’s a guide to some of the famous New Hampshire national parks.
Top 16 New Hampshire National Parks And State Parks
Here are the top national and state parks in NH that are worth exploring.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The 2,200 miles long Appalachian national scenic trail runs from Georgia to Maine. The entire hike journey takes about 5-6 months which only dedicated hikers manage to accomplish.
The section of the Appalachian trail which runs through the White Mountains is about 160 miles long and the journey could take about 14 days. Several hiking trails are organised with overnight huts to take a night’s rest.
The idea of the miles-long Appalachian national scenic trail was proposed by Benton MacKaye who was a forest planner.
Apart from holding some of the majestic mountains, the Appalachian national scenic trail is home to the tallest peak Mount Washington. The deep woods and scenic forests are home to great wilderness. Look out for the black bears while on your hiking journey.
Being one of the most visited New Hampshire national parks, the Appalachian Trail is a perfect spot for wildlife viewing and hiking trails.
Georgia to Maine.
Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was a majestic sculpture artist of his time and the personality behind Saint-Gaudens’ national historical park. The park which was once his abode is now among the New Hampshire national parks managed by the national park service.
Augustus Saint transformed the entire house and the garden with his sculpting skills. The national park is home to the ‘Farragut monument’ which was his first publicly commissioned sculpture. The ‘Aspet’ which was a brick house is still intact and contains the original furniture and decor.
Taking a guided tour of the national park is the best option. Once you enter, a short film on Saint-Gaudens would be displayed which inform about his lifestyle and artworks. The area was converted into a national park in the year 2019.
The original pieces and sculptures of Augustus are well preserved and put on display. Sculpting workshops like Botanical drawing and sculptures are held even today by famous artisans.
You can also spot a honey locust tree planted in the year 1886. The park charges admission fees for ages 16 and above. It is the only one among the New Hampshire national parks to have historical reminiscents.
Bear Brook State Park
Being the largest park in the state of New Hampshire, the Bear Brook state park stretches over 10,000 acres of land. Filled with marshes, ponds and bogs the park offers various outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, archery and row boating.
You can reserve a campsite at the 101 site campground or the cabins at Bear Hill pond. Bear Brook is the best among the New Hampshire national parks for limitless adventure and thrilling outdoor activities.
The park offers numerous family-friendly trails throughout. Some of them are:
- Catamount Hill Trail and One Mile Trail Loop
- Lynx and Beaver Pond Trail Loop
- Little Bear and Big Bear Loop Trail
Echo Lake State Park
The Eco Lake State park in Conway offers a mesmerizing view of the Saco River Valley. Surrounded by tall trees and shaded areas the park is a perfect location for families. The park offers some of the best views among the New Hampshire national parks.
You can just hang out under the trees or take a swim in the lakes. The two picturesque ledges, Cathedral ledge, and White horse ledge are located in Echo Lake state park. A trail of 1.3km surrounds the lake.
Trails in Echo Lake state park:
- Cathedral Ledge trail
- Whitehorse Ledge Loop trail
- Elm Brook trail
Crawford Notch State Park
Passing through the White Mountains, the Crawford notch state park is an enthralling location filled with waterfalls, trees, gift shops, and historical sites. The park is home to the famous Willey House.
Crawford notch state park has six mountain peaks with Mount Willey being the highest. You would find numerous locations for sunset viewing. Among the cascade of waterfalls, the Ripley falls and Arethusa falls stand among the famous ones.
Famous trails in Crawford Notch state park:
- Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Loop
- Mount Jackson trail
- Ripley Falls trail
- Mount Willey via Kedron Flume trail
Between Bretton woods and Bartlett.
Franconia Notch State Park
Offering a granite landscape, the Franconia notch state park is situated in the White Mountain national forest. You can access a hike section of the Appalachian Trail from this park.
The park stretches from Flume George to Echo Lake and offers numerous outdoor recreations like swimming, fly fishing and overnight camps. Two hours away from Boston, Franconia Notch state park is one of the best among the New Hampshire national parks.
It is also home to the remarkable ‘old man of the mountain’ also known as the ‘great stone face’. The stone resembles a human face when viewed from the north end. Unfortunately, it collapsed back in the year 2003.
Some famous trails of Franconia Notch state park:
- The Flume George trail
- Lonesome lake trail
- Artist Bluff trail
Milan Hill State Park
Known for its pristine wilderness and natural beauty, the Milan Hill state park is one the best national parks in New Hampshire for wildlife viewing.
Initially, a part of the Civil Conservation Corps, the 102-acre area has numerous activities ranging from hiking trails, camping, mountain biking, and high-rise views.
The mountain ranges that can be viewed from the park are New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Canada. The Milan Hill Fire tower is the easiest trail that can be adventured by all.
White Lake State Park
The White Lake state park within the White Mountain range is a glacial lake famous for beautiful backdrops and sceneries.
You can find a complete package of activities to enjoy here like fishing, boating and bicycle riding. Though the best outdoor activity among all New Hampshire national parks here is swimming in the lakes.
The White Lake state park has 168 campsites. Grills and firewood are available at the picnic sites. The White Lake loop trail is one famous trail at the park.
Pawtuckaway State Park
One of the largest in New Hampshire, the Pawtuckaway state park is a popular destination for sightseeing and picnicking. It has a large beach with activities like fishing, hiking and kayaking.
The park is named after Pawtuckaway lake. You can also spot beavers in the marshes. The park has proper amenities and washroom facilities in comparison to the other New Hampshire national parks.
Trails in Pawtuckaway State Park:
- South Mountain Lookout trail
- North Mountain Loop trail
- Boulder trail
- Fundy and Shaw loop trail
Miller State Park
The oldest among the New Hampshire national parks, the Miller park on Pack Monadnock was named after James Miller who was a brigadier general. The word ‘pack’ which means ‘little’ is coined concerning the bigger Mount Monadnock.
The famous Wapack trail runs from Mt. Watatic to North Pack Monadnock. A fire tower which is no longer in use offers a famous spot for sightseeing.
Some trails of Miller State park:
- Wapack and Cliff trail
- The Raymond trail
- Marion Davis trail
Monadnock State Park
Home to the mighty Mount Monadnock, the state park offers numerous recreational activities like snowshoeing and camping.
Mount Monadnock was designated as a natural landmark. The hike is approximately 4 miles and has a rugged terrain. Make sure to avoid the crowd on weekends. Being one of the most climbed mountains in the world, the hike promises some of the best views of Granite state.
Some of the best trails offered in Monadnock State park are:
- Mount Monadnock via White Dot trail
- White cross trail
- Mount Monadnock via Parker trail
- Monadnock via Birchtoft trail
Odiorne Point State Park
Offering a scenic view of grasslands and a rocky shore, the Odiorne Point state park speaks about the natural history of the state.
The Seacoast Science Center has exhibits of aquariums and events on marine life conservation are held frequently. The park has excellent vegetation and is usually not crowded, this makes it among the best national parks in New Hampshire.
Trails in Odiorne Point State park:
- Odiorne Point loop trail
- Seacoast Science Center and Founder’s monument.
Portsmouth, in the town of Rye.
Cathedral Ledge State Park
The park offers a scenic overlook of the Saco River Valley. Along the edge of the Cathedral ledge, you can find yourself viewing the most spectacular views among the New Hampshire national parks.
Various fun-filled activities like rock climbing and mountain climbing are present at the park. Be careful in the steep areas of the ledge.
Coleman State Park
Situated on the Little Diamond Pond, the Coleman state park is the perfect spot for fishing and ATV riding among the New Hampshire national parks.
The remote area has different sites with cabins and well-maintained lodges. The road to the park might be a bit difficult. Frequent ATV trips are spotted here. The lake offers stunning views and fly-fishing for fishing enthusiasts.
Weeks State Park
Located on Mount Prospect, the Weeks state park provides an enthralling view of the White Mountains and Green Mountains of Vermont. The park offers hiking trails and the John Wingate Weeks House museum which opens on weekends.
The park is one of the best maintained among the New Hampshire national parks. Absolutely free of cost, the panoramic view from the fire tower is spell bounding.
Best trails in Weeks state park:
- Prospect Mountain trail
- Prospect Mountain Big Loop
Ahern State Park
The Ahern state park located along Lake Winnisquam offers a 128-acre land with numerous sightseeing and walkable trails. Initially, a part of the Laconia State School, the park became a state property over time.
The hiking terrain is relatively easy among the other New Hampshire national parks. The lake offers a mesmerizing view and non-motorized boats to enjoy a relaxing getaway.
The calm lake and the woody walk are perfect spots for families and couples. Make a note that no restroom facilities and parking reservations are available here.
Some Other New Hampshire Parks
- Clough state park
- Dixville Notch state park
- Forest Lake state park
- Kingston state park
- Hampton Beach state park
- Lake Tarleton state park
- Moose Brook state park
- Rollins state park
- Winslow state park
- Rye Harbour state park
- Lake Francis state park
What Can You Do Most At The New Hampshire National Parks?
- Adventure the hiking trails
- Kayaking and Canoeing
- Boating at various lakes
- Canopy tours
- ATV rides and bike rides
- Camping on designated campgrounds
- Learning about the history of New Hampshire national parks
Tips While Visiting The New Hampshire National Parks
- Choose your adventure goal and the appropriate parks which offer them. Research all the available recreational activities before visiting the New Hampshire national parks.
- Stay close to designated camping areas to avoid any kind of threat. Follow the trails with caution to avoid getting lost.
- If you are planning to camp out make sure to carry all the necessary types of equipment like sleeping bags, covered clothing and tents if needed.
- Carry insect repellants just in case you need them at the New Hampshire national parks.
- Reserve parking beforehand in crowded areas and know the parks which offer parking facilities and the ones which do not.
- Go with a partner just so you can look out for each other. With caution and safety, you can have the best time at New Hampshire national parks.
- Avoid drinking water from the lakes and ponds as they may contain disease-causing pathogens. Carry filtered water and a good amount of food.
- Respect the property of Mother Nature. Carry a trash bag for disposing of the waste. Leaving traces of trash is a form of disrespect.
- Take the help of our ultimate guide and list down your preferred national parks and discover many such amazing things to do in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire National Parks – Final Words
With gaining popularity, the New Hampshire national parks are picturesque spots for picnicking, rock climbing and camping. The serene atmosphere of the parks and the deep woods offer the best trails for outdoor enthusiasts.
From the largest Bear Brook state park to the oldest Miller park, the New Hampshire national parks have the best to offer. Away from the hustle-bustle of daily life, a trip to the national parks in New Hampshire would instil a bang of energy in you.
Maintained by the National Park Service, the New Hampshire national parks are preserved sites. The Bureau of Trails is responsible for maintaining the hiking trails and cross-country skiing while the Bureau of Historic sites manages the historical reminiscents.
Check out the historic sites in Saint-Gaudens or relax under the tall shaded trees in Echo Lake state park. Either way, you would have the most adventurous getaway in New Hampshire. The sunset views are a stunning display of nature which you can watch from almost every park.
With over 93 national and state parks, the list goes on and on. The longest hiking trail on the Appalachian mountains is the most difficult yet action-packed journey. Laid out in the most natural settings the New Hampshire national parks are well maintained and are bound to amaze you.
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