Posted by Jennifer Joyce on 24th May 2016
Unlike most states, New Hampshire allows dogs in its major national forest, the White Mountain National Forest. However, they must be under verbal command or restrained at all times. You must carry a lead no more than 6’ long in case your dog needs to be restrained. Dogs are also allowed in most state parks, though not at picnic areas or beaches. The state offers a list of all dog-friendly state parks. Below we have listed some of our favorite hikes in New Hampshire from easy to difficult. Be sure you are prepared for hiking with your dog; our Top Tips for Hiking with Your Dog from our consulting vet, Dr. Susan O'Dell, DVM, can help.
Lincoln Falls Trail, Lincoln, NH (White Mountain National Forest) – This is one of our favorite easy hikes in NH and it’s great for families, seniors, and less conditioned dogs. It is a wide trail that runs 6 miles round trip along the Pemigewasset River. There is only a 300 foot elevation gain and you are rewarded at the end with the stunning Franconia Falls which has a giant flat rock area perfect for a picnic. For the adventurous, there is also a natural rock water slide down the falls. Dogs are allowed on leash and there is a lot of foot traffic on weekends, though the wide trail makes it easy to manage excited pups. Mountain biking is also permitted.
Beaver Brook Nature Center, Trails & Gardens, Hollis, NH (Southern NH, Nashua) – Located close to Nashua this is a convenient hike for people living close to Boston. There are over 35 miles of trails that are relatively flat with a few moderate hills. There’s a lot of water in this area with ponds, streams, and waterfalls. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Lake Massabesic Trail, Auburn, NH (Southern NH, Manchester) – This relatively flat hike is a 4 mile loop around Lake Massabesic where there is a lot of wildlife. Many people use this trail for trail running, which is a great activity to do with your dog. Your pup is allowed on leash, but he is not allowed in the lake or on its beaches.
Falls in the River Trail, Pittsburgh, NH (Great North Woods) – Located far North almost to the Canadian border, the Falls in the River Trail is a favorite hike due to its accessibility to all levels and the breathtaking gorge and flume in the middle of the hike. It goes along the Connecticut River for much of the hike and there are openings where you can get down to the river. You might just see a moose, so leashing your pup might be a good idea. It is 4 miles out and back with relatively little elevation gain. You can also continue on the Moose Alley Trail for another 2 miles if you want to extend the hike and increase your chance of seeing a moose..
Mt. Major, Alton Bay, NH (Lakes Region) – This loop hike has beautiful views across Lake Winnipesaukee. It is 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1,180. Every time we hike this mountain, we see many, many dogs, so be sure your dog is friendly to other pups. Dogs are required to be on leash, but many people do not follow this rule. There are also a few rocky scrambles as you near the top. On the way up, you can take two routes. We recommend the steeper & faster one on the left as the alternate trail is easier to go down with less rocks. You are also rewarded for climbing to the top by hiking along a pretty brook where your pup can get a drink and swim.
Mt. Chocorua, Conway, NH (White Mountain National Forest) – There are several ways to summit Mt. Chocorua, but we recommend the Champney Brook Trail which is easier and offers better views along the hike. It also has a brook and waterfalls for you and your dog to enjoy. Although this route is only a 700 foot elevation gain, it is 7.25 miles long which puts it into the moderate category. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Arethusa Falls Trails, North Conway, NH (White Mountain National Forest) – This is a popular hike due the abundant steams and waterfalls. In many places along the hike, you and your pup can dip your feet in pools at the base of the waterfalls. It is 4.5 miles round trip with a 1,280 foot elevation gain. Dogs are allowed and recommended to be on leash given the popularity of the trail. They are also welcome to drink and splash around in all the water that makes this hike so special.
Mt. Cube Trail, Orford, NH (Connecticut River Valley) – This trail is less popular than some of the 4,000 footers nearby, but it’s a great hike for dogs given less traffic and many beautiful streams and waterfalls. It is a 6.6 mile out and back hike with 2,200 elevation gain. Dogs are allowed off leash.
North Moat Mountain, North Conway, NH (White Mountain National Forest) – A long and difficult hike that is 8.9 miles round trip with a 2,650 foot elevation gain. Be sure your pup is a conditioned and experienced hiker. With little water on the trail, be sure to bring plenty for your pup. Within the first .6 miles, you can enjoy Diana’s Falls, a popular (sometimes overrun) swimming hole. Dogs are welcome on the trail and in the water.
Mount Osceola, Lincoln, NH (White Mountain National Forest) – This is one of New Hampshire’s famed 4,000 footers. There are two ways to the summit. One is the Greeley Pond Trail to the East Osceola Trail, which is easier but the Greely Pond Trail is very high use and there’s a major rock scramble to get to the top. Some people with dogs prefer the Tripoli Road approach. This hike is 6.4 miles round trip with a 2,050 foot elevation gain.
Do you have a dog-friendly hike in New Hampshire we missed? Comment below and we will add it!
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