They may not get all the glory, but they’re worth the trek in their own ways.
Google “best fall hikes in New Hampshire,” and right at the top of your results, you’ll likely find references to Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey and Mount Major in Alton. While these hikes certainly deserve their top ranking, it also often means you’re sharing those peak foliage views with crowds the size of a small rock concert. For a fresh way to get outdoors this fall, we highlight some of the noteworthy but less-familiar hikes across New Hampshire.
The West Ridge Trail [Orange]
Much of the hike up Mount Cardigan (25 miles east of Hanover) via this 2.7-mile trail involves traversing up log staircases and across wooden bridges that help you hoof the 1,200 vertical feet as efficiently (and scenically) as possible. A result of a fire in 1855, the treeline ends about a quarter mile before the peak, giving hikers pristine 360-degree views of the rolling hills tinged with oranges and yellows.
Summit Trail/Lake Solitude Trail [Newbury]
Mount Sunapee may be better known for its winter activities, offering 66 ski trails over 233 acres and a vertical drop of 1,510 feet (the highest in Southern New Hampshire). But during the fall, the mountain is home to a hidden gem of a hike: a 3.7-mile route that travels up Mount Sunapee, then east to a remote lake – Lake Solitude – that offers an amazing view of fall foliage reflected in its five-acre surface.
Uncanoonuc North Peak Trail [Goffstown]
Hidden just outside the city lights of Manchester, this moderately-difficult, densely-wooded loop trail offers hikers a bit of a workout despite its relatively short 2.1 mile distance. Lookout points reveal views of Goffstown, as well as the far-off mountains in full foliage including Mount Monadnock, Pat’s Peak, Mount Major, Cranmore, and more. Take it slow – there are markers, but they’re sparse.
Odiorne Point Loop Trail [Rye]
This very simple 3-mile trail runs immediately adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean at Odiorne Point State Park. Though the Seacoast gets most of its visitors in the summer months, Odiorne is just as beautiful in autumn with brilliant ocean views, a rich mix of wildflowers, and tidepools along the rocky shore. The area that the park now occupies was the first place the British landed in New Hampshire back in 1623, which is chronicled – along with other natural and historical highlights – on-property in the Seacoast Science Center.
Ashuelot Rail Trail [Keene]
The Ashuelot Rail Trail occupies a 22-mile stretch that used to be laid with railroad track, and the smooth, crushed gravel (and sometimes asphalt and dirt) surface is accessible for bikes, dogs, and even some strollers. You’ll encounter an assortment of picturesque covered bridges along the trail, which provide a quintessential New England backdrop for fall photos.