If you love the outdoors, especially sprawling forests, then New Hampshire should be on your wish list. This state has some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes in the country. In fact, it’s often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of America’, for the similarities that its dramatic and rugged White Mountains bares to that of Switzerland. There are two national parks to explore and 93 state parks. So, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Ready to explore all that this beautiful state has to offer? Here are some of the best state and national parks in New Hampshire.
7 of the Best National Parks in New Hampshire
1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Although there are only two national parks in New Hampshire, they’re mighty. The trail is 2181 miles long, 161 of which are in New Hampshire. The trail passes through 14 states, and almost all of the New Hampshire portion is within the White Mountain National Forest. It’s a tough trail, climbing 17 of the forest’s 48 mountains, with alpine terrain and harsh conditions. But many people flock to this part of the world for a feeling of great accomplishment, a sense of adventure, spotting wildlife, and the second-to-none views.
2. Bear Brook State Park
Although not a national park, Bear Brook is home to some of the beautiful landscapes in the Northeast. The huge 10,000-acre preserve was named after the stream that runs through the park. There’s plenty to do at this park, especially for the kids. There are over 40 miles of hiking trails, picnic benches, camping sites, swimming and fishing ponds, an archery range, a ball field, and a children’s playground. Plus, there are areas of significance such as the Old Allenstown Meeting House, the Richard Diehl Civilian Conservation Corps, and the New Hampshire Snowmobile Museum.
3. Jericho Mountain State Park
If you want mountainous views, Jericho Mountain State Park is worth a visit, tucked away into the White Mountains. It centres around the 7200-acre Jericho Lake, with an array of water activities to try out, including boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. There are plenty of land-based activities, too. Adventure seekers will love hiking, mountain biking, ATV and UTV trail bike riding, snowboarding, skiing, and camping.
4. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
Located in Cornish, New Hampshire, the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park sprawls across 370 acres, relatively small for a national park. The park preserves the gardens, studios, sculptures, and home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The revered sculptor lived on this historical site from the late 19th century up to his death in 1907. There, you can see some of his masterpieces displayed in an on-site exhibition, two hiking trails exploring the nearby natural areas, and the Cornish Colony. The Colony was a community where artists, drawn in by the beauty of the area, would live together or spend the summer. Thanks to its historical significance and the need to preserve the grounds, it became a national park in 1977.
5. Monadnock State Park
Monadnock State Park is surrounded by thousands of acres of protected highlands, in the 3165 ft Mount Monadnock. Considered to be one of the most hiked mountains in the world, this National Park is a great camping base for those braving the steep hike. Visitors can also enjoy skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and there are plenty of shorter hikes that don’t lead to the mountain’s summit.
6. Mount Sunapee State Park
Popular amongst families, this park is centred around the 4085-acre Lake Sunapee. In the summer, visitors sunbathe on the lake’s beach, swim in the lake, go boating, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. The nearby campground is a great base for families to enjoy the natural setting. You’ll also see mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing.
7. Franconia Notch State Park
Right in the heart of White Mountain Forest, Franconia Notch is considered one of the most beautiful state parks in the US. It was home to the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’, a rock formation that appeared to be the profile of a face. When it inevitably collapsed, this park maintained its status as a popular place to visit. Running from Flume Gorge to Echo Lake, this park features the famous Flume Gorge trail. Plus, you can visit the New England Ski Museum. There’s plenty to do – swim in the Echo Lake, go rock climbing, biking, hike part of the Appalachian Trail, ride the aerial tramway, go fly fishing, and more. The park also features a campsite and an RV park.