Some might call late May summer, but in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the last vestiges of spring are still going strong with green leaves just beginning to unfurl, and mountaintops clinging to stubborn snowy patches.
This quick list of seven spring hikes is designed with lower elevations (and shorter mileage!) in mind, so grab those hiking boots and your Hike Safe card and get out on the trail. Your conditioned legs will thank you once it comes time to conquer those 4,000 footers.
Pro tip: Make your trip memorable for the right reasons! Pack plenty of bug spray for late spring and early summer hikes, as well as layers and sunscreen in anticipation of the notoriously changeable weather.
STINSON MOUNTAIN (Rumney, NH)
Stinson Mountain is the perfect family-friendly hike for explorers seeking trails in the southern White Mountains. This 4.1-mile moderate loop trail is located within the hamlet of Rumney, NH and boasts southern views toward Mount Cardigan and the Lakes Region, as well as a small spur path that guides hikers to a viewpoint of nearby Stinson Lake.
BRIDAL VEIL FALLS (Franconia, NH)
This popular waterfall (located in the western stretches of Franconia Notch State Park) is accessed via the Coppermine Trail. We are big fans of the moderate, consistent grade, frequent brook views, and a little over 5 roundtrip miles ready for adventuring. The stunner of this trail is its namesake: Bridal Veil Falls. An 80-foot total drop, plus cool breezes wafting off the water, make this path a great pick for warmer spring days and hikers hunting for scenic sights.
To access the Coppermine Trail, park in the small lot at the start of Coppermine Road. Walk along the road until you come to a fork. Stay to the right -- a marked trail will start on your left, shortly past the fork.
WELCH-DICKEY LOOP (Waterville Valley, NH)
Scenery is everywhere in Waterville Valley, NH. For the best of the best this area has to offer, head to the 4.4-mile Welch-Dickey Loop Trail. Most hikers recommend taking the loop in a counterclockwise direction for the best experience, but we find that either way offers a challenging, memorable, visually splendid hike for the record books.
To access the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail, park at the trailhead off Orris Road. Bring $5 in cash to pay your trailhead parking fee. Also, take note: as with many hikes in the White Mountains, this trailhead parking lot can fill up quickly, especially on weekends.
BLACK CAP (North Conway, NH)
If you’re ok with rubbing shoulders with a fair number of other hikers, add Black Cap Trail in North Conway, NH to your spring hiking list. This popular 2.4-mile loop trail offers amazing views with relatively little exertion, including sights of the iconic Presidential Range and Cranmore Mountain Resort. This hike goes by quickly, so plan for other adventures in the Mount Washington Valley later in the day!
CHAMPNEY FALLS (Albany, NH)
Moderate? Check. Scenic? Check! The Champney Falls Trail in Albany, NH is a great pick for hikers seeking waterfalls with minimal elevation gain. This 3.1-mile out and back trail gains 682 total feet in elevation, meaning you can save your energy for admiring the falls themselves.
Are you bringing the family on this adventure? Brush up on basic waterfall safety before visiting Champney Falls, including avoiding slick sections and the temptation to climb rocks near the waterfall. Adhere to all signage and be respectful of the integrity of the landscape. Many accidents occur each year at waterfalls in the White Mountains.
BALD KNOB (Moultonborough, NH)
If you want to gain great lake views in 2 miles or less, head to Bald Knob in Moultonborough, NH for a 1.9-mile round-trip stunner. You’ll tackle a total of 1,154 feet on this short, steep hike, so get ready for a workout before you can bask at the top, taking in the full expanse of Lake Winnipesaukee and the gorgeous Lakes Region.
THORNE POND (Bartlett, NH)
Little legs will love this flat 1-mile loop trail at Bartlett, NH’s Thorne Pond Conservation Area. Keep on the lookout for ducks and frogs as you circumnavigates the trails namesake pond, and prepare for lots of splashing, wading, and and rock throwing as you make your way to the part of the path that parallels the rushing Saco River.
This short list of spring hikes is just a few of the many amazing trails scattered across the White Mountains region. Revisit another one of our spring hiking blogs for more inspiration to get you and your loved ones out on the trail, breathing in that fresh mountain air while adding on some miles.
Take a virtual hike to Bridal Veil Falls in Franconia, NH. Click the video below!