Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Best Family-Friendly Hiking and Walking Trails Around Concord, New Hampshire

If you know me, you know I spend a lot of time outside with my girls. And, although we live in a "city", we have seemingly endless option for hiking and walking trails in our area.  I feel blessed to have access to such a variety of trails literally within minutes. I can take my kindergartner out for a quick hike in the morning before she goes off to school at noon and start both of our days with a great breath of fresh air.

And now, as the autumn leaves start to turn, I thought I'd share my favorite local hikes so that you can go experience some great local views with your own family.

#1: Mt. Kearsarge
Probably my favorite hike in our area is through Rollins State Park up Mt. Kearsarge. It is only a 1/2 mile hike to the top and offers amazing 360 degree views:

and, in the fall, offers gorgeous colors:
While it is an uphill hike over rocks and roots, I have taken my children since they were 3 and able (or willing) to walk 1/2 mile. Once at the top, they can climb the lookout tower or simply adventure around the top of the mountain:

The fees are: $4 for adults; $2 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under and NH residents age 65 and over are admitted free. Pets ate permitted.

#2: Merrimack River Outdoor Education and Conservation Area
I just discovered this gem this week... and thank goodness! It is gorgeous. There are 2 miles of level trails that meander through gorgeous forest:

past the sloping banks of the Merrimack River:

I will be coming back here often and will even be snowshoeing here in the winter. 

From I-93: From I-93 take Exit 16. Turn east at the end of the exit ramp. Following the brown and white "Conservation Center" signs, go to East Side Drive (Rt. 132). Turn right onto Eastman Street. After 0.3 mile, turn left onto Portsmouth Street. Travel on Portsmouth Street for 0.1 mile. Turn right into the unpaved parking area.

#3: Marjory Swope Park
This is a nice trail that is just one year old. It is a very easy uphill climb that is 1.45 miles round trip. It offers a gorgeous view of Penacook lake:
I have not yet hiked it in the fall... but can only imagine the colors will be fantastic. I would definitely call this hike moderate since my 4 year old and myself can go up and down in less than an hour.

Look for big owl sign right on Long Pond Road.

#4: Oak Hill
This is a 2.5 mile round trip hike up to a fire tower on the top. This is not one of my favorite hikes as it does not offer views unless you climb the fire tower. (I do not like heights, so I did not climb the tower, but my 12 year old did report gorgeous views from the top.) I access the trail via Shaker Road. I might consider it a bit more challenging for smaller children, simply due to the length, but have easily hiked it with a couple of 3 and 5 year olds.

#5 Jim Hill River Walk to Daisy Beach
This is an easy (but often buggy) walk through the woods. It takes you along the river at some points and even to a hidden gem of a beach: Daisy Beach. We love this swimming spot as there is a great rope swing:

It is not a well marked trail, but you can find Daisy Beach at the bottom of the trail map (marked by the picnic table). I think it may be approximately 1 mile into the beach, but there is a whole trail system which can take you much longer if you are so inclined. Watch for wildlife around here, we have seen everything from chipmunks to foxes on our travels.

#6 Sewalls Falls Recreation Area
This is probably the area where we spend most of our time hiking. We love to relax on the sandy beach: 

Or walking along the trails or railroad tracks and enjoying the gorgeous views of the river. We like to go to the end of Second Street behind Beaver Meadow Golf Course and enter there... and use the trail map to navigate your hike.

#7 Contoocook River Park Trails
My daughters really enjoy this hike as it brings you great river views as well as an access to a dam and waterfall that the girls love to climb around on. (Not for the faint of heart if you fear your kids jumping off the dam!) But the scenery looking down the rocky river is amazing:

This is also our favorite snowshoeing trail in the winter. It is smooth and well groomed and easy for the little 2 to navigate:
You can access the trail head at the end of Electric Avenue (off Washington Street in Penacook.)

#8 Rolfe Park Trails
This is our second favorite snowshoeing trail. And its proximity to Rolfe Park makes it a great hike for smaller kids since they can play in the park at the end. It is only about 1 mile to hike around the entire trail. While there is not much in the way of views, it is a simple hike for those less inclined.

#9 Weir Road Boscawen Town Forest Trail
I have not actually hiked in here, but I do know that the wider trails allow for mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking and snowshoeing. The trail takes you around Beaver Pond and can be accessed via Boscawen or Concord. This is a 4 season maintained trail system.

#10 Blackwater Dam
This area is another multi-use area that allows for hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hunting (gun and bow), fishing (brown and rainbow trout, perch, sunfish, pickerel), canoeing, and snowmobiling. From I93 take Exit 17 Head North on Route 4, South on NH 127 and you will see the dam. Bring a picnic lunch and you can an entire afternoon of adventures here.

#11 Hannah Dustin Memorial
This is our quick jaunt to a picnic spot with a bit of history infused. The hike is basically following the railroad tracks and some trestles. The memorial is actually an island at the confluence of the Contoocook and Merrimack rivers and provides some beautiful scenery and leaf peeping along the river. (You may want to read up a bit on Hannah in case your kids ask what's up with the statue of the lady holding up 5 Indian scalps.)

From I-93: Take exit 17 to Route 4 west. Hannah Dustin Memorial is directly off Route 4 with a sign and parking area.

Enjoy your hikes and please tell me if I have missed any.

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog. I am also from New Hampshire where we bloggers seem to be few and far between! I just love this post and can't wait to explore some of these hikes with my daughter and new puppy!