New Hampshire may be one of the smallest states in the union, but it offers over 70 state park properties including beaches, mountains, campgrounds, historic sites, natural and wayside areas, and waterfalls. Four distinct seasons do not change the appeal of the parks and some of them offer winter activities such as cross country skiing and ice fishing. The best way to experience the New Hampshire state parks is on foot via hiking. This physical pursuit offers the best way to experience not only the ecology and geography of the area but also a bird's eye view of the gorgeous landscapes.
Only Hikers Needing a Challenge Need Apply
Mount Washington State Park encompasses 59 acres of mountains and wooded areas and is home to the highest mountain peak in the northeastern United States - Mount Washington. At over 6,000 feet, the hike to the summit is not for the faint of heart, not only because of the challenging landscape but also the weather with high winds off and on throughout the year. The view though, is worth it to many with panoramic vistas of Maine, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, the Atlantic Ocean, and even Quebec on pristine weather days.
The surrounding White Mountain National Forest guarantees plenty of great views and hiking pleasure. You can also enjoy the visitors' center here as well as the observatory, museum, cafeteria, gift shop, and the historic TipTop House, once a hotel but now a state historic site.
Easy Paths and Handicap Accessibility
There are several New Hampshire state parks with hiking trails and walkways that are easy to navigate for kids as well as those who are physically impaired. Northwood Meadows State Park is one of these properties that offer a beautiful wooded setting with nature trails that are accessible for kids as well as wheelchairs or motorized handicap scooters. Old logging trails and nature paths wind around forested and wetlands areas, a perfect setting for bird watching and nature viewing as well.
Rhododendron State Park is aptly named thanks to the 15+ acres of rhododendron plants that give the park its primary focal point. A beautifully appointed half mile hiking trail accessible to wheelchairs circles through the rhododendron groves and pine forest. The wildflower trails are in bloom for several months and singing birds provide a wonderful complement to the sweet smelling blossoms in the area.
Varied Hiking State Park Challenges
Crawford Notch State Park gives hikers plenty of sights to see with several small mountain summits to reach in addition to cliffs, rocky outcroppings, and other terrain. You can find fishing holes, plenty of wildlife to observe, and even waterfalls to experience. Add the visitor center, gift shop, and historic building sites and you have the makings of a well-rounded hiking excursion.
Among the New Hampshire state parks, Franconia Notch State Park is one of the most diverse with a variety of outdoor activities; however hiking is an outstanding option that can take you from easy wooded areas to challenging rock and mountain climbing. Flume Gorge, located at the base of Mount Liberty, provides plenty of hiking options such as the granite walls of the gorge. There are plenty of other hiking opportunities that will take you to lakes, waterfalls, mountains, bluffs, cliffs and even portions of the Appalachian Trail.
Most of the New Hampshire state parks offer walking and nature trails perfect for easy strolling and exploration. However, only about 25 of the 70+ state parks offers hiking that requires a modicum of effort to traverse, even the handicap accessible ones. If you are seeking the ultimate hiking experience in this state, the New Hampshire state parks website will offer the best resource along with a list of amenities each park has to offer.