8 Kid Friendly Hikes

For parents, the benefits of getting kids out on the trail are undeniably plentiful. There’s the putting down of the mobile devices, for one. The fresh mountain air and exercise. Then of course the priceless family moments and instilling a respect and appreciation for the earth and its creatures. If you choose an over-ambitious mountain however, the hike can go downhill quickly. To help you happily enjoy your outdoor adventure together, we’ve compiled 8 easy-to-moderate kid-friendly New Hampshire hikes.

Pitcher Mountain, Stoddard, NH

Pitcher Mountain, located near the town of Stoddard is a family favorite, offering a simple and straightforward hike of less than a mile round trip for those with tiny sneakers. Don’t let the easy climb mislead you. Pitcher Mountain’s pretty views rival even some of the nearby 4,000-footers. Take in the bird’s-eye views of the Green Mountains and surrounding Monadnock region as you pick from the lush harvest of blueberries and raspberries that grow in abundance at the summit.

Arethusa Falls, Crawford Notch State Park

The Bemis Brook Trail is a 2.6-mile round trip moderate hike that culminates in enchanting upfront views of towering stunner Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park. The 140-foot fantail waterfall spills over an outcropping of granite rock as it flows to the pool below. This is an excellent trip for families looking for a leisurely hike of a slightly longer duration.

Mount Major, Alton, NH

Views of Lake Winnipesaukee abound atop this local family favorite. Mount Major is a popular mountain for families and younger hikers, providing a sure-footed moderate climb, with plenty of places to stop and enjoy scenic views as you hike. The payoff at the top is more than worth the 3.8-mile round trip trek, as you take in the panoramic views of the rises of lush green mountain amid the glinting blue waters of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Mount Willard, Carroll, NH

Mount Willard is a rugged, but family-friendly mountain serving up humbling views of Crawford Notch and the surrounding mountains at its summit. The Mount Willard Trail is a moderate 3.2-mile round trip hike through dense forest, which culminates at the wide open and picnic-friendly summit with a view straight down the U-shaped valley of Crawford Notch. Along the way, you can stop at one of several ledges for additional views of the notch that are equally as picture worthy.

Lonesome Lake, Franconia Notch, NH

The Lonesome Lake Trail is family-friendly, taking you on an easy hike around the circumference of Lonesome Lake through dense and shady woods followed by a sunny shore perfect for a cooling dip and picnic. This is an ideal trip for those looking to enjoy a leisurely and calming day out with the family and a bit of a longer hike. Though the majority of the three mile loop is flat, there is one brief, steep section, where the ascent is made manageable by zig-zagging up rather than a straight shot. Remember to follow the Lonesome Lake Trail to the right after that to ensure an easier walk around the lake to the beach.

Zealand Falls, Zealand Notch

Zealand Falls is set in the quiet and picturesque lower regions of the White Mountains. The 6-mile round trip Zealand Trail takes hikers first to the 25-foot Zealand Falls, followed by Zealand Cliff, which offers views of Zealand Notch and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Just a short scramble further is Zealand Hut, the Appalachian Mountain Club-maintained shelter, offering refreshments and a comfortable place to lay your day pack as you rest and take in the sites. Families wishing to extend their trip can make a reservation with AMC for an overnight stay.

Mount Kearsarge, Warner, NH

Mount Kearsarge’s spacious summit is accessible from both Winslow State Park and Rollins State Park in New Hampshire, and offers many ways to reach the peak including the mile-long Winslow Trail, 1.5-mile Barlow Trail, and half a mile Warner Trail. A pleasant picnic at the top provides views of Mt. Washington, The Green Mountains and on a crystal clear day, the Boston skyline.

Pack Monadnock, Peterborough, NH

Pack Monadnock promises hiking families a leisurely all-day adventure with plenty of opportunities for exploration within Miller State Park. Wildflowers line the nature trails that lead you to the mountains’ summit where summiteers come face to face with Pack Monadnock’s larger neighbor, Mount Monadnock. Three different trails, Wapack, Marion Davis and Raymond will get you to the top and though they vary in profile, the approximate 3-mile round trip hikes each offer a combination of both easy-to-moderate hiking with some steeper climbs.

Hiking Tips

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.