Spring hikes for beginners and families!
Listen to the WBUR Radio Interview from 5/13/2022 here.
Whitehorse Trail, Bartlett, NH
3.9 miles, 1043 ft elevation gain, moderate difficulty
This trail hugs the edge of Echo Lake before climbing up to a beautiful view above the water. Take the loop counterclockwise to climb the steep section first, then enjoy a more gradual descent through woods and an impressive boulder field. A spur trail leads to Cathedral Ledge, a popular rock climbing spot.
Boulder Loop Trail, Albany, NH
2.8 miles, 912 ft elevation gain, moderate difficulty
This trail winds up past a series of imposing ledges and massive boulders to reach a lovely outlook. Some steep sections offer a challenge but the shorter distance makes this hike very manageable. There is also a covered bridge, swimming hole, and fishing pier on the way into the trailhead.
Franconia Falls, Lincoln, NH
6.8 miles, 423 ft elevation gain, easy hike
This hike is longer in mileage but very low in elevation gain. The majority of the trail travels on an old railroad bed along the edge of the Pemigewasset River. A minor climb brings you to a beautiful waterfall. This is a great hike for families with older kids and teens who can handle the distance and will enjoy the waterfall.
Artist’s Bluff Trail, Franconia, NH
1.5 miles, 436 ft elevation gain, easy hike
Super easy to access off I-93, this short, moderately steep-in-parts hike is a great one for families and those looking for a quick trek to a lovely view. Take the spur to summit Bald Mountain too!
Cadillac South Ridge Trail, Mount Desert, ME
6.7 miles, 1548 ft elevation gain, moderate difficulty
Located in Acadia National Park, this hike is on the longer side but the lower elevation gain makes it doable for most hikers. The trail is gorgeous and diverse, traveling through the woods, along carriage trails, and over open ridges with exceptional ocean views.
Ragged Mountain from Hope Street, Rockport, ME
5.4 miles, 1095 ft elevation gain, moderate difficulty
This hike is part of the Coastal Mountain Landtrust (Camden, ME), which offers numerous hiking and woods walking options for all ability levels. The trail to Ragged Mountain is diverse in scenery and difficulty; it begins gradually and becomes steeper at the top where it climbs over ledges to the summit. You can see the ocean in one direction and, on a clear day, Mt. Washington (NH) in the other.
Pleasant Mountain, Denmark, ME
3.3 miles, 1512 ft elevation gain, moderate difficulty
This mountain is a southern Maine classic. The highest point in Cumberland County, the mountain is shared by Shawnee Peak Ski Area on the north side and a 10-mile trail system managed by Loon Echo Land Trust on the east side. Some steep sections and switchbacks give it a moderate difficulty rating, but the short distance and outstanding views make this trek an excellent choice for families and beginners.
Mahanna Cobble Bousquet Loop, Pittsfield, MA
2.8 miles, 803 feet elevation gain, moderate difficulty
This relatively quiet trail in the Berkshires starts at the base of Bousquet Ski Area. Take the counterclockwise route to tackle the steep section first, then enjoy a ridge walk with great views as you cross Osceda Mountain and Mahanna Cobble.
Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, Princeton, MA
This 3000 acre state reservation offers multiple hiking and walking opportunities at various levels of difficulty. Just over an hour west of Boston, the area is a perfect spot to spend a day exploring. The nearly 2000 ft Wachusett Mtn can be reached from multiple trails, ranging from longer and more gradual to shorter and steeper. There is something for everyone!
Middlesex Fells Reservation, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, and Winchester, MA
Another beautiful state reservation just minutes from Boston provides many trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. The state park surrounds five reservoirs (2 inactive, 3 active) and kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, and row boats can be rented during the summer months.