Known for the spectacular nature of its collective landscapes, nowhere is this natural beauty best showcased in New Hampshire, than in its 93 state parks.
Including everything from stunning mountain ranges, and gorgeous coastlines, to flowing rivers and a verdant woodland, these state parks provide lots of opportunities to get out and explore nature.
For residents of Portsmouth there are several state parks within easy driving distance that allows them to hike through woodland, cycle around a mountain, fish for whitefish, bass or trout, or simply just set up for a night of camping under the stars.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, here are 5 state parks near Portsmouth you should make a point of visiting.
Map of State Parks Near Portsmouth, NH
Here is a map of the state parks in New Hampshire covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Portsmouth
All five of the state parks near Portsmouth outlined below can all be reached within just over a three hour drive from the city. So they are places you can easily visit as a day trip destination.
However, if you would prefer to spend a few nights at them, they all provide opportunities for camping and other types of overnight accommodation.
1. Bear Brook State Park
Location: 157 Deerfield Rd, Allenstown, NH 03275
Situated about a 50 minute drive east of Portsmouth lies Bear Brook State Park.
At over 10,000 acres this is the biggest state park in New Hampshire and is also one of the most popular. Its located within the southeastern part of the state and offers visitors a plethora of outdoor recreational activities.
This includes the likes of hiking, biking and horse back riding. Which you can do along over forty miles of trails, that guides you through heavily forested parklands to remote marshes, summits, bogs and ponds that are rarely visited.
In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, biking, fishing, photography and archery. Of which there are two ranges, one being a 15-target range and the other a four-target practice range.
Campers have two decent options at this picturesque park, which include a 101 site campground at Beaver Pond, as well as cabins which are located at Bear Hill Pond.
At the Beaver pond and nearby Catamount Ponds, you will be able to hire boats.
2. Ellacoya State Park
Location: 280 Scenic Dr, Gilford, NH 03249
About an hour’s drive northwest of Portsmouth in the town of Gilford lies Ellacoya State Park.
Nestled on the southwest shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee, this park accommodates New Hampshire’s largest lake. It is a terrific spot to spend a day with the family swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing or SUP.
There is also a 600-foot long sandy beach here too, which conveys views from across the lake that look out to the imposing Ossipee and Sandwich mountains. The beach is a lovely place to relax during the summer. While there are also plenty of attractive picnic spots dotted around the area too.
The RV Campground here has 38 sites available by reservation only. Broken down into 22 sites for RV/Trailer, 15 for pull-ins and one pavilion, they all offer three-way hook-ups.
Facilities at the campground include a bathhouse and changing area for swimmers, as well as flush toilets, a playground, laundry, campfire and boat launch ramp.
3. Crawford Notch State Park
Location: 1464 US-302, Hart’s Location, NH 03812
A fairly straightforward 2 hour drive north from Portsmouth will take you to the stunning Crawford Notch State Park.
Sprawled across 5,775 acres this spectacular state park takes up a position in the center of the Crawford Notch. Which is a major thoroughfare that cuts through the White Mountains.
Renowned for its scenic hiking trails, many of which lead you to gorgeous waterfalls and lookouts that showcase imposing mountain views, the park is also is a popular spot for wildlife viewing. With the likes of deer, bear, moose, fisher and snowshoe hare all being prevalent.
The park is also home to the historic site of the famous Willey House, as well as the Dry River Campground that presents 36 wooded sites.
Set within a woodland enclave, the campground is right in the heart of the park. It is a pet friendly camping area, although dogs need to be leashed and not left alone at all times, and features a range of amenities. These include flush toilets, showers, laundry, drinking water, fire rings, handicap access and picnic tables.
4. Franconia Notch State Park
Location: Flume Gorge, Daniel Webster Hwy, Lincoln, NH 03251
It will take you about an hour and 45 minutes to drive north to Franconia Notch State Park. But once you are there you will find yourself in a setting that is right in the heart of the magnificent White Mountain National Forest.
Home of the famous Old Man of the Mountain, a visit to this state park affords you the chance to hike on the Appalachian Trail, swim at beautiful Echo Lake, fly fish for trout at Profile Lake or take a ride on your bike along the Recreational Trail.
You can even go rock climbing, walk through the spectacular Flume Gorge, ride the tramway at Cannon Mountain, or check out the New England Ski Museum.
Camping here is situated at the Lafayette Campground, which provides 97 wooded tent sites. There is also an RV Park here that has 7 full-hookup campsites.
5. Coleman State Park
Location: 1166 Diamond Pond Rd, Stewartstown, NH 03576
At 3 hours and 15 minutes north, Coleman State Park is the furthest state park from Portsmouth to drive to, on this list. However, that transit time should not put you off from coming here.
Lying on the shore of Little Diamond Pond in the small town of Stewartstown, which resides in the state’s remote north country, this is an excellent spot for trout fishing, as well as hunting.
Boats and snowshoes can also be rented here, while there are also over 1000 miles of trails at this New Hampshire State Park for OHRV riding and snowmobiling.
The pet friendly campground here offers 25 campsites, which also include sites for ATV camping that have direct trail access.
In addition, there are several lodges here too. Although dogs are not allowed in them.