Ultimate Trails and Tours
Climb Mount Washington
Everyone knows you can take the easy way up Mount Washington (well, if you’re not freaked out by the sheer drop-off and nonexistent guard rails, that is) by car on the infamous Auto Road. Carnival barker P.T. Barnum called Mount Washington “the second greatest show on Earth” for a reason. In the summer, “mountaineers” arrive by both car and the historic Cog Railway. Show these Bermuda-shorted tourists how it’s done and lace up your boots. It’s about a four-hour hike from AMC’s Pinkham Notch Camp to the summit, and on a clear day you can see forever. Well, almost. It can get awfully crowded up there. Oh, and sorry — we don’t think they make a “This Person Hiked Mount Washington” sticker.
Want to enjoy the purity of hiking and avoid the tourists? Here’s a tip: Climb North and South Baldface mountain in Chatham instead. The Baldface Circle Trail is 9.6-mile ramble over the summits of both peaks, which are about 3,591 feet tall. About four miles of the walk is above the tree line with magnificent views of the Presidential Range. The 24th edition of the “AMC White Mountain Guide” calls it “one of the most attractive trips in the White Mountains.”
And there’s a bonus; about three quarters of a mile from the end of the trail lies the Emerald Pool (pictured above)— one of the state’s best swimming holes, where you can take a post-hike dip you won’t soon forget.
Attempt the NH Portion of the Appalachian Trail
Is the Appalachian Trail on your bucket list? How about just some of it? New Hampshire is home to 161 miles of this famous trail, and includes more miles above the tree line than any other state. As the trail’s website says, “This provides exposed ridges with amazing views when the sun is shining, as well as the worst weather in the world when storms hit.” And though it’s not all tough going, there are parts in the White Mountains that hit nine on the difficulty scale, which, we should mention, is where it tops out.
Outdoors for All – NH's Accessible Trails
In New Hampshire, gorgeous trails are accessible to all. Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield has trails that offer adventures for those who do their hiking with the aid of a walker, crutches or wheels. The Gregg and Dutton Brook trails were built to US Forest Service accessibility standards and are the longest mountainside, universal-access trails in the country. The Gregg Trail is a 1.6-mile round trip. It rises about 200 feet via switchbacks with a grade never more than 8 percent and offers expansive views of the local hills. Dutton Brook Trail is a two-mile round trip that actually loses height and descends at a maximum grade of 4 percent, circling the wetlands and headwaters of the stream. See crotchedmountain.org/trails for maps and more information.
Covered Bridge Tour
Think you can see all of New Hampshire’s 54 historic covered bridges? This picturesque example is the Flume Bridge, which was built in 1871. It’s located in Lincoln over the Pemigewasset River at the junction of NH Rte. 175 and US Rte. 3.
Forget the bridges of Madison County, how about the bridges of Hillsborough, Strafford, Coös, Merrimack, Cheshire, Rockingham, Sullivan, Belknap and Grafton counties? With only 750 historic covered bridges left in the entire country, we’re home to 54 of them, including the longest 19th-century wooden covered bridge in America — the Cornish-Windsor Bridge — a fixture since 1866. It stretches 449 feet and 5 inches across the Connecticut River, linking Cornish, New Hampshire, with Windsor, Vermont. Click here for the New Hampshire Covered Bridges guide to get you started.