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Gear Up For Adventure In New Hampshire
The Granite State’s gorgeous coast, rambling mountains, and divine forests offer up endless amounts of adventure – grab your bike, your skis, and your boots and let’s go!
New Hampshire is New England’s top mountain biking spot – there are hundreds of miles of trails here for every skill level and rider ability. Fort Rock near Exeter has a long season and tons of intermediate-level trails which offer challenges for those willing to work for it. Near Allenstown, Bear Brook State Park has great cross-country loops, while North Conway and the Marshall Conservation Area have both all-mountain and downhill parks.
Many of the state’s ski areas open to mountain bikers come summer – grab a lift pass and let a chairlift take you to the top. Waterville Valley has great downhill rides as well as hiking trails, swimming holes, and a disc golf course. Attitash Mountain Bike Park has 20 miles of downhill and cross-country trails. Like other areas, Attitash has a full selection of full suspension performance bikes for rent as well as helmets and body armor.
Bikers who prefer skinny tires have hundreds of miles of winding roads and empty byways to devour. Many old rail lines have been converted to bike and hiking paths, allowing you to enjoy great scenery and traffic-free pedaling. Grab a bike and hop on the 11-mile Nashua River Trail, the 5.5-mile Goffstown Rail Trail, or the unpaved 26-mile Rockingham Recreational Trail. There are dozens more to choose from – some are less than a mile long while others could occupy days of biking. The state has a great list of recommended rides for those who really want to see the miles add up on their odometers – classic routes wind through the Great North Woods, the White Mountains, the Monadnocks, along the coast, and through the Merrimack Valley.
Skiing in New Hampshire is practically as old as the sport itself – the first ski runs were cut in 1931 and the first ski lifts were installed for the winter of 1936. Today, the state offers a mix of modern resorts and throwback ski hills where the thrills are cheap.
Cannon Mountain boasts nearly 2,200 vertical feet of skiing served by 10 lifts, including the famous aerial tram – from the top you can see the mountains of four states and into Canada. Bretton Woods is the state’s largest ski area – it has nearly 100 trails and sprawls across 464 scenic acres. Attitash is two mountains in one area and has 11 lifts and a vertical drop of 1,750 feet. Black Mountain is an affordable family-owned ski area in Jackson with 45 trails served by four lifts. Pats Peak is a family area in southern New Hampshire, and other local’s favorites include Arrowhead, Whaleback, McIntyre, and Granite Gorge. Ready to ski a living legend? Head to Storrs Hill, which first opened in the 1920s as a ski jumping hill and now has a ski lift, lit slopes, and ski racing.
New Hampshire has 18 cross-country ski resorts and dozens of other places where you can click into a pair of skinny skis and glide through forests and meadows. Bear Notch has 60 kilometers of groomed trails and a 200-year old farmhouse serving as its base lodge. Franconia Village has trails for all abilities plus ice skating, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, sledding, and an outdoor hot tub. In New London, the Pine Hill Ski Club has 20 kilometers of groomed tracks and a warming hut serving up hot drinks and snacks.
Ready to put your extreme ski skills to the test? Every spring, hundreds of skiers hike to the summit of Mt. Washington to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine – it’s a rite of passage for many on the East Coast. A moderate 2.4-mile trail leads through the forest to the base of Tuckerman’s, and from there it’s straight up, with runs approaching 55 degrees in steepness. Skiing here can last well into the summer thanks to strong winds which howl all winter long and load the ravine’s headwall with massive quantities of snow.
Hikers in New Hampshire are treated to great trails leading to overlooks, breathtaking forests, and waterfalls. The most-loved trails include the 3.2-mile jaunt to Arethusa Falls, the challenging 9.7-mile Baldface Loop, and the 6.2-mile hike to Kearsarge North, which takes you to a fire tower. Mt. Adams is a favorite hike of many in the region – it’s spectacular and rugged but definitely not an easy outing. The 5.5-mile trail to Mt. Cardigan offers 360 degrees of views. Leaf peepers will want to bring their boots as well – top hikes during the fall foliage season include trails to North Percy Peak, Piper Mountain Mt. Cube, and Odiorne Point.
Of course, with a nickname like “the Granite State” it should come as no surprise that there is great rock climbing here. The Great North Woods has highly lauded ice and mixed climbing, while the White Mountains offer a diverse selection of sport, traditional, and alpine climbs. The Lakes Region is seeing continual development, with popular routes in New Durham and Devil’s Den. If you are seeking a bit of assistance getting up the rock, you’ll find qualified guides in North Conway, Newfields, and Twin Mountain.
Ready to hit the water? You’ll find first-class rafting and kayaking, and plenty of guides and outfitters ready to get you on the river. Top spots include the Rapid River, Magalloway River, and Errol Rapids, which can be done by river rats as young as 6!
That’s just a taste of what New Hampshire has to offer when it comes to outdoor adventure – we did not even get to mention the caving, trail running, fishing, and wildlife watching. You’ll find it all here – there’s a new adventure every day!