New Hampshire State Parks Activities
Perhaps the best camping site in New Hampshire, the Lafayette Place Campground at Franconia Notch State Park offers a ton of amenities, as well as an abundance of hiking trails that meander all throughout the beautiful natural landscapes unique to this region.
White Lake State Park features one of the largest campgrounds in New Hampshire with over 203 well-kept sites situated underneath towering pine trees and along the shores of White Lake. Here, campers will wake up to incredible sunrises over the lake.
Campers also love pitching their tent at Pawtuckaway State Park, situated in southern New Hampshire, between the cities of Concord and Manchester. With over 192 wooded campsites, as well as five cabins, visitors will have plenty of sites to choose from! Views afforded by this park are unmatched.
There are over 101 campsites at Bear Brook State Park, the largest developed state park in New Hampshire. Sprawled over 10,000 acres, this park is a favorite among those who love taking part in outdoor recreational activities.
Sites at Lake Francis State Park may not be as large – the park only covers 45 acres, after all – however, they’re still considered to be some of the best in New Hampshire. It even features a small camp store where guests can stock up on supplies and necessities.
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Famous for being the most frequently climbed mountain in the world, hikers Mount Monadnock should be on every hiking enthusiast’s bucket list! To hike this awe-inspiring natural wonder, head over to Monadnock State Park where the White Cross Trail, a moderately-difficult four-hour round-trip route is found.
To catch glimpses of boulders formed during the Ice Age, take on the Pawtuckaway Boulder Trail at Pawtuckaway State Park. This two-mile loop trails through the park’s expanse and a side trail even leads to the Devil’s Den, a pair of caves at the base of a stone outcrop.
Those looking to climb Mount Kearsarge may do so from Mount Kearsarge-Rollins Trail, found at Winslow State Park. This moderately-difficult route promises only the best views of New Hampshire.
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For backpackers looking for the adventure of a lifetime, check out the Franconia Ridge Loop at Franconia Notch State Park, a nine-mile trail with plenty of challenges. Featuring an elevation of 5,260’ on Mount Lafayette, this route is undoubtedly only for the most daring.
If you’re looking for a less challenging hike, then the Mount Lovewell section of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, whose trailhead lies at Pillsbury State Park is your best bet. This route takes backpackers through lush forests, a diverse set of terrain, and boasts of views that can’t be found anywhere else.
Great fishing opportunities are found everywhere in New Hampshire, one of the best ones being Lake Francis State Park. The 2,000-acre lake found within is a favorite spot for anglers across the state.
Those looking to cast their lines for some trout should head over to Coleman State Park. The Little Diamond Pond, as well as the many streams found here, are all home to massive schools of trout.
To take part in the best geocaching spots in New Hampshire, then Miller State Park, Rye Harbor State Park, and Bedell Bridge State Park are all perfect for you! Caches here are all cleverly concealed among their many hiking trails and diverse habitats – definitely a challenge for even the most experienced of geocachers.
The Granite State has an abundance of public hunting grounds! For the best deer and turkey hunting opportunities, check out Cardigan Mountain State Park and Forest, as well as Franconia Notch State Park. Both feature well-maintained areas that are beloved by avid hunters from all over the United States.
If you’re in the mood for a thrilling pursuit, then these parks are your best bet!
Day Use Areas
What better way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon than by going on a lovely picnic? The 2,290-foot summit of Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park is the best spot to have one, featuring breathtaking scenery and a bird’s eye view of New Hampshire’s sprawling natural landscapes.
Greenfield State Park is another incredible picnic spot. Tucked away north of Peterborough, the park boasts of ponds, bogs, and a lush forest that all provide a scenic backdrop to your picnic. The park also has a store where visitors can purchase additional food and beverages for their meal.
If you’re looking to use rustic fireplaces for grilling, then Kingston State Park is made for you! This park is especially famous for being a holiday destination, notorious for having large crowds on Memorial Day or during the Fourth of July weekend.
For those who wish to lay their spread by the lakeside, Ellacoya State Park is the ideal spot to do so. Located on the southwest shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, this park offers incredible views to complete your picnic.
The Franconia Notch Bike Path at Franconia Notch State Park is a 20-mile paved route that brings riders through the park’s many attractions, including Flume Gorge, the Old Main of the Mountain Profile, and Echo Lake. Keep in mind that although the bike path is free of use, some of these attractions charge a small fee.
Ahern State Park may be rather small at a mere 128 acres, however, it’s filled to the brim with singletrack trails that are perfect for those daring riders! Challenging rock drops, technical sections, and other interesting obstacles all make for an unforgettable ride. If cycling is one of your hobbies, you should check these trails.
For beginners looking to take their skills to the next level, Northwood Meadows State Park has a ton of trails that meander around Meadow Lake and farther afield. These routes are easy, laid back, and are perfect for a relaxing ride.
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The 15.7-acre Echo Lake at Echo Lake State Park is a popular boating destination, offering visitors views of the Cathedral and White Horse Ledges, as well as the towering trees that dot the lakeshore.
Another favorite spot is Mount Sunapee State Park where the 4,085-acre Lake Sunapee is a favorite for fans of thrilling water activities. Both parks also offer kayaking and canoeing, in addition to boating.
Odiorne Point State Park is famous for the seven distinct habitats found within, which include the seashore, salt ponds, the uplands, and more. Grab your binoculars and keep your eyes out for your feathered friends. From waterbirds to shorebirds to migrant warblers, hundreds of diverse bird species have made this park their home. Here, birders may catch glimpses of Bonaparte’s Gull, the Black Guillemot, and the Marsh Wren.
Another great bird watching destination in New Hampshire is Hampton Beach State Park where large populations of the Great Cormorant, the Black-legged Kittiwake, and the Purple Sandpiper are found.
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One of New Hampshire’s ten original state parks, Forest Lake State Park features a 200-foot sandy beach enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. To beat the summer heat, dive into the cool and comfortable waters of Forest Lake! Even though New Hampshire is in the Northeast, the sun still gets hot in the summertime so make sure you grab a beach umbrella on your way to the beach. Going to the beach is one of the small joys in life, make sure you take the time to enjoy it.
Considered to be the most popular swimming hole in the Granite State, Wadleigh State Park offers phenomenal views to go along with your excursion. Huge crows flock to this spot to cool off during the scorching hot summer!
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Rock Climbing and Mountaineering
For incredible bouldering opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else, Pawtuckaway State Park has them! Massive glacial erratics prove to be a challenge for even the most skilled of climbers. With hundreds of boulders scattered throughout the park, this is a climbing experience like no other.
One of the largest state parks in New Hampshire, Bear Brook State Park offers a great many trails made for avid equestrians. Routes here meander through the park, some of them winding up steep hillsides that require both horse and rider to pay close attention. However, the picturesque views found in this park are well worth the challenge.
Between October and April, Hampton Beach State Park opens its doors for horseback riding enthusiasts to gallop along beautiful sandy shores. The exhilarating and refreshing atmosphere of this park make it an excellent spot for beach riding.
The historic Tip Top House at Mt. Washington State Park is the ideal spot for history buffs. Located adjacent to the geological summit, it was originally built in the late 19th century as a hotel, eventually evolving into a printing office for the newspaper, Among the Clouds. Exploring this historic structure is a must!
At Bedell Bridge State Park, take in views from the former site of a historic two-span covered bridge, considered to be the second longest in the United States.
Franconia Notch State Park is even more beautiful in the wintertime with the frozen Basin and Flume Gorge making for a spectacular site. Visitors here love going on the many winter hikes offered by the park, taking in views of New Hampshire covered in snow.
Those itching to do some cross-country skiing should check out the many trails found at Odiorne Point State Park. This spot does get crowded, though, so keep that in mind. No need to worry if you love the outdoors but hate the cold. Take a look at our best heated jacket review. A heated jacket will keep you warm for hours on the coldest of days.