Best New Hampshire Dog-Friendly Hikes

A note from New Hampshire Magazine: Due to the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, officials are asking that you avoid traveling to some of the places mentioned here. For instance, anyone trying to bag all of the 4,000-footers, now is not the time — per the AMC, mountains hiked during the stay-at-home order will not count, and the AMC urges everyone to “stay low and local.” For all other trails, we hope you will exercise best judgement and avoid any crowded places, and that you’ll practice appropriate social distancing when you do go outside. We will continue to update this and other stories as more details are released. In the meantime, we hope you use this guide (and others) to make future plans for when we can once again experience all that our wonderful state has to offer. Stay safe, and stay healthy!

Update: As of April 24, the White Mountain National Forest closed many high-use trailheads, day-use areas and some other facilities. You can find more information and a map of the closures here.

Update: Announced on May 1: “The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) closed several sites last week as part of a tactical pause to assess operations, including staffing, equipment availability and to develop a phased approach to operate within CDC guidelines and prepare for the summer. As part of a phased opening approach in alignment with Maine and New Hampshire State Parks the White Mountain National Forest will be opening most trail heads on the forest.” Read more here.

Trail Runner And His Dog At Sunset High Above North Conway, New Hampshire On South Moat Mountain.

A trail runner and his dog at sunset high above North Conway on South Moat Mountain. Photo by Joe Klementovich

Hiking with your dog is a great excuse to get outside, connect with nature and explore all of the beautiful trails New Hampshire has to offer. Chances are your dog will enjoy the sights, smells, fresh air and exercise too. And, when the hike is done, if you and your canine companion need to rest and refuel, check these dog-friendly hotels and restaurants.

Leisurely Trails

Lake Massabesic Trail, Auburn
This is a 4-mile, heavily trafficked loop that offers the chance to see wildlife and is appropriate for all skill levels. The trail also offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Your dog must be on a leash if you are going to walk this trail. This is an Audubon sanctuary, and you can see the trail map here.

Falls in the River Trail, Pittsburg
This 2.8-mile, out-and-back trail is beginner level and runs along the Connecticut River and features breathtaking views of the gorge and flume near the middle of the hike. It’s not uncommon to see a moose while you are walking, so leashing your dog might be a good idea. The trailhead is located at the parking lot opposite the Second Connecticut Lake dam. See more info here.

Beaver Brook Nature Center, Hollis
With 35 miles of relatively flat trails (there are a few moderate hills), ponds, streams, waterfalls, 12 themed gardens and a wildflower trail, there’s tons to explore. Dogs are allowed on leash. See more information here.

Franconia Falls, Lincoln
Be aware that at 6.4 miles, plus a few places that get a little tougher (crossing water, etc.) this trail is a bit long for beginners, but is still one of the easier hikes in the White Mountain National Forest. Starting at the popular Lincoln Woods Trailhead, this scenic trek features a series of cascades and even a swimming hole (Franconia Falls). The trail follows the east branch of the Pemigewasset River, and occasionally offers gorgeous mountain views. You’ll also discover boulders and large, flat rocks ideal for soaking up the sun or enjoying a picnic. Dogs are allowed, but must be on leash. See more information here.

Note: The White Mountain National Forest announced on May 1: “The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) closed several sites last week as part of a tactical pause to assess operations, including staffing, equipment availability and to develop a phased approach to operate within CDC guidelines and prepare for the summer. As part of a phased opening approach in alignment with Maine and New Hampshire State Parks the White Mountain National Forest will be opening most trail heads on the forest.” Read more here.

Intermediate

Mt. Major and Brook Trail Loop, Alton Bay
This is a moderate-level, 3.7-mile, heavily trafficked loop with beautiful wild flowers, and ideal for walks from April through November. This trail is a fan favorite for its hike along a pretty brook where your dog can drink and swim. Your dog is required to be on a leash, but not many people follow this rule, as there are as many dogs on the trail as there are people. See more information here.

Mount Chocorua, Conway
There are multiple routes, and some are more difficult than others, so pay close attention and make sure to take the Champney Brook Trail, which offers an intermediate hike with outstanding views. You and the pup can cool off either in the brook or via the mist from the waterfall. With only a 700-foot elevation gain this may seem easy, but at 8.4 miles long it’s definitely intermediate-level. Dogs are allowed on leash. See more information here.

Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliffs, Bartlett
This 5-mile trail (round trip) has a 1,400-foot elevation gain, but don’t worry — you can wash off the sweat in the the abundant streams and waterfalls. Given the plentiful pools, this is a popular hike, so it’s a good idea to keep your pooch on a leash. See more information here.

Note: See the above announcement from the White Mountain National Forest.

Up for a challenge?

Seabrook Beach
Mount Osceola, Lincoln
If you and your dog are looking to tackle one of the Granite State’s famous 4,000-foot peaks, Mount Osceola is a good place to start. This 12.3-mile round-trip hike has gorgeous views of the Kancamagus wilderness and plenty of wildflowers that make the steep trek worth it. The entrance at Tripoli Road is the more dog-friendly place to start. See more information here. Note: During the stay-at-home order, hikes of the 4,000-footers will not count toward a patch.

North Moat Mountain and Diana’s Baths, North Conway
This is a longer, more difficult hike, so only bring your dog if they are up for a few extra miles. While it is 10.2-miles roundtrip, Diana’s Baths is a fun place to stop and swim with your dog along the way. Don’t expect to be alone on a hot summer day. Find more information and options here and here.

Note: See the above announcement from the White Mountain National Forest.

South Moat Mountain, Conway
A 5.4-mile, out-and-back trail might not sound too hard, but with a 2,200-foot elevation gain and several difficult, very rocky pitches and open ledges that can be slippery, this is for experienced hikers (and dogs). Your hard work will be rewarded with a big payoff — some of the most stunning views in the region. See more information here

Note: See the above announcement from the White Mountain National Forest.

 

Categories: Fall and Foliage, Seasonal Guides – Fall, Seasonal Guides – Spring, Summer Adventure, Things to Do

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