Get the Kids Outside to Enjoy Nature in New Hampshire
Getting the kids into nature and introducing them to that incredible mountain-conquering feeling is undoubtedly worthwhile. But those little feet can tire easily—and before you know it you could be climbing to the tune of an endless chorus of “are we there yets?!” To help avoid an overly-ambitious climb, we’ve put together 8 easy-to-moderate kid-friendly hikes the whole family will enjoy.
This straightforward hike stretches less than a mile round-trip, making it the perfect journey for younger kiddos. And the best part is that despite the deceivingly easy climb, the resulting views at the peak are comparable to its neighboring 4,000-footers. Plus, the summit is lush with natural blueberries and raspberries in the summertime that make for perfect pickings!
Looking to show the kids something truly spectacular? The Bemis Brook Trail should do the trick. A 2.8 mile roundtrip hike will guide you to the enchanting, 140-foot Arethusa Falls where rushing water cascades over granite rocks to pool in the basin below. While the hike may be slightly longer, the stunning views are well worth it.
Mount Major is a favored peak in the Lakes Region for its easy 3.8 mile round-trip trail. The peak affords sweeping views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the rolling slopes of surrounding mountains. The trek is mild-mannered so the whole family can easily conquer this peak together!
Trek up the 3.2 mile Mount Willard Trail, which ranks as moderate but errs on the easier side of things. While the path is rugged, there are several stops along the way which feature ledges that offer unique views of the surrounding Crawford Notch. The summit is wide open and expansive—making it a perfect picnic spot with dramatic views of the notch laid out in front of you
The Lonesome Lake Trail is perfect for families looking to spend an afternoon exploring together. The 3-mile path guides you along the shores of Lonesome Lake, offering a relatively flat excursion the whole group will appreciate. Bring along a picnic to enjoy at the beach, or indulge in a refreshing dip in the waters to reward your hike.
This hike is situated in the lower regions of the White Mountains where peace and serenity are central. While this trek is a bit lengthier at 6 miles round-trip, the Zealand Trail guides hikers first to a 25-foot tall cascading waterfall, followed by Zealand Cliff, which serves views of Zealand Notch and the dense surrounding wilderness. Along the trail is an Appalachian Mountain Club shelter, which offers a respite for hikers with lodging, refreshments, and space to relax.
The short, accessible trails up Mount Kearsarge are popular for good reason. A quick half mile climb to the peak from the picnic area of Rollins State Park results in panoramic views of surrounding mountain ranges. Your little hikers will have a blast conquering the rock staircases along the way and exploring the expansive peak and fire tower.
Pack Monadnock offers families all-day activities and room to explore among Miller State Park’s numerous scenic trails. Wildflowers line the winding paths that lead you to the mountain’s summit where climbers come face to face with Pack Monadnock’s legendary neighbor, Mt. Monadnock.
Ready to hit the trail? First thing’s first. You want to be aware of all of the HikeSafe precautions and guidelines before you go. And to ensure the soothing sounds of nature aren’t eclipsed by a chorus of “are we done yet?” make sure your packs contain all the proper gear to keep the kids (and even adults) engaged as they climb. Here are a few day hike tips and packing must-haves to keep the family safe and energized on your outdoor adventure:
Safety First. Always remember to pack a basic first-aid kit with band-aids and antiseptic wipes. Let it be your talisman against any spills!
Food, glorious food! Fill your packs with plenty of snacks such as granola bars, crackers, trail mix and fruit leathers. They’ll not only curb hunger when out on the trail, but can be a great distraction for when smaller kids start losing energy and interest.
Stay hydrated. Make sure the family drinks water before and during the trip at regular intervals. Bring at least one bottle of water for everyone. A filtered water bottle can be handy to have too, just in case you need more and there aren’t any water stops.
Always bring area trail maps and a compass to make sure you can navigate your way.
Dress for the day. Weather around the New Hampshire mountains changes rapidly, so check the area’s weather forecast and conditions. It’s always a good idea to bring an extra layer of warm clothing in case temperatures drop.
Always wear sturdy hiking boots or comfortable sneakers with a thicker tread.
Leave no trace. Remember to bring plastic bags to collect and bring out any food or sanitary waste you generate on your trip.
If you’re embarking on a more remote hike, for a longer duration, sign in at the trailhead or the park office to let folks know exactly where you’re going.