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NH Kids Hikes

We moved to NH for various reasons, but one included wanting an "outdoor" life for our children. NH has so many trails and hikes, suitable for all ages and stages. Here's a secret about me - I'm perfectly content with a 2-3 mile loop and home by mid-afternoon. You don't need to leave at 5am and hike up 4000 ft to have some fun. Sure, there's definitely a time and place for those achievements, but you know my motto - "it doesn't have to be all or nothing." So here are various options for people who have young kids, older bodies, or are short on time.


The most important thing? Get outside, breathe that fresh NH air and have some fun!  Don't forget to check out our basic safety tips for hiking with kids in New Hampshire.

Kids Hikes

Mt. Major (Alton) 
Mt. Cardigan (Orange) 
Pack Monadnock or North Pack Monadnock (Peterborough) 
Piper Mountain (Gilford) 
Welch-Dickey Loop Trail (Thornton/Waterville Valley) 
Red Hill (Moultonborough) (This is one can be a little steep, so better for older kids.) 
Artists Bluff and Bald Mountain (Franconia Notch) 
Lockes Hill (Gilford)  
Stone House Pond (Barrington) 
Quincy Bog (Rumney)  
Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest (Holderness) 
Welton Falls (Alexandria) 
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Important Safety Tips

Here are a few important tips to keep your kids safe and thriving on a hike in New Hampshire.  To make a hiking adventure fun for the whole family check out this excellent top ten list by!  They give great tips on keeping your little ones motivated and happy. 



Make sure you dress your kiddos in layers so they can peel them off when warm (uphill) and put them back on when cold (downhill).  Storms can blow in at any moment (especially on higher peaks) so be prepared with appropriate rain and cold weather gear. With this in mind, bring a backpack so you have a spot for all those layers to travel! Don't forget your hats - the head is the number one source of heat loss in the body - hats or hoods make a huge difference.


Water & Snacks

Make sure to bring plenty of water and healthy snacks with you on a big hike.  Kids burn serious calories so they need extra fuel and hydration on a hike.  Tip: To avoid instant meltdowns - eat a large, healthy meal before you set out so fuel is already onboard.  Pro Tip: Pack extra in case you stay out longer than expected and always leave a stash of water and food in the car.

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First Aid/Sunscreen/Bug Repellent

Be prepared! Bring a first aid kit with band-aids and medical tape for blisters or scrapes. Include sunscreen and bug repellent in the summer and vaseline for chapped skin the the winter.  If you're going for a big hike, deep into the wilderness you'll need to be more prepared (see The Mountaineers 10 Essentials below). 

Image by Artur Łuczka

10 Minute Uphill Panic

In general, it takes approximately 10 minutes for the body to adjust to an increased level of activity (like starting an uphill hike).  To a child the increase in heart rate, heavy breathing, and overall sense of "not being able to do it" can create a state of panic and/or make them feel defeated before they've even begun.


Reassure your child that their incredible bodies will adjust - talk to them about how the body works and why it feels the way it feels. Turn it into a game by timing how long it takes for their bodies to adjust.  For younger kids, play fun games or tell engaging stories during the initial uphill phase to distract and engage them.

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Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are native American plants that produce an oily substance causing allergic skin reactions in most people who are exposed. It is not contagious but can be spread if the plant oils remain on the skin, clothes, or shoes.  To get oils off your skin - your best bet is to wash with a detergent style soap (like dish soap or laundry detergent).  These soaps break down the oils. Wash all exposed clothing with laundry detergent to prevent further spread (oils can stay on clothes for 2-5 years). Be aware - dogs and other pets can unwittingly spread the oils to their owners.


Follow these simple steps to avoid poison ivy:1) Stay on trails and avoid brushing your legs up against undergrowth, 2) learn to identify it so you can steer clear, and 3) wear tall socks or pants to avoid getting oils on your skin - then wash these clothes with laundry detergent. Good luck!

  1. NavigationmapaltimetercompassGPS devicepersonal locator beacon

  2. Headlamp: with LED bulb and spare batteries

  3. Sun protectionsunglassessun protective clothingsunscreen

  4. First aid: a first aid kit, wrapped in waterproof packaging

  5. Knife: hikers on a short trip may also carry a multi-toolstrong adhesive tape and cordage; on a longer trip, further small tools may be useful

  6. Fire: the means to both start and sustain a fire; either a butane lighter or matches, or other fire making device. Firestarters for igniting even wet wood, and in areas where no firewood will be available, a stove is highly advisable.

  7. Shelter: plastic tube tent, jumbo plastic trash bag or bivy sack

  8. Extra food: at least one day's food for a short hike, that should require no cooking.

  9. Extra waterdrinking water and the skills and tools to purify water

  10. Extra clothes: additional items may be needed if spending the night in the emergency shelter

The first five items are intended to prevent and respond to emergencies, the second five to safely spend one or more nights outdoors.

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