Located in New England, in the northeastern part of the United States; New Hampshire is truly blessed with forested mountains, pristine wilderness, and rugged Atlantic coastlines. That is why it’s commonly referred to as the Switzerland of America, Mother of the River, Granite State, or White Mountain State.
New Hampshire is home to extensive granite formations and majestic animals. Unfortunately, the state has only two national park service units—the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park. However, there are over 93 state parks to explore, which offer great opportunities to get back to nature while making unforgettable memories in natural habitats.
Let’s look at the 10 best state and national parks in New Hampshire that provide a variety of recreational activities throughout the year.
1. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
|Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park|
|Animal to See||White-tailed Deer|
|Attraction to See||Path of Life Sculpture Garden|
Home to an astounding array of scenery, Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is among the only two places in America that contain original sculptures from the famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
The park exhibits Augustus’ greatest artworks, which can be found on the grounds and in the galleries. Saint-Gaudens’ greatest motivation was the natural beauty of the landscapes, forests, and mountains.
Visit Saint-Gaudens to explore the sculptor’s artwork and the nature trails winding through the woodland areas of the park. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of wildlife such as bobcats, black bears, moose, and the common white-tailed deer. The sites and sounds of wildlife are present all around the park, regardless of whether you’re strolling through the gardens or hiking the trails.
2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
|Appalachian National Scenic Trail|
|Size||2,200 Miles Long|
|Animal to See||Black Bear|
|Attraction to See||Clingmans Dome|
Another New Hampshire hikers’ paradise is the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. It’s a 2200-mile trail that traverses rugged rock formations, stark landscapes, dense forests, steep canyons, and wild animals, among other beautiful scenery. It’s one of the most famous hiking trails in the United States.
It takes around 5 to 7 months for a typical thru-hiker to complete the trail in one trip. Thousands of hikers attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail every year, but few make it.
Hikers should watch out for black bears while on the trail because they inhabit almost all trail parts. They are often shy creatures who would walk away upon seeing a human, though there are times when they can be a threat or nuisance. Other animals like bobcats, raccoons, coyotes, woodchucks, deer, and porcupines can also be sighted on the trails.
3. Bear Brook State Park
|Bear Brook State Park|
|Animal to See||Black Bear|
|Attraction to See||Charmingfare Farm|
Bear Brook State Park offers a magical escape from the hectic 9 to 5 life. It is among the biggest state parks in New Hampshire. There are several outdoor activities to explore at Bear Brook, including camping, photography, scenic drives, hiking, swimming, fishing, archery, and snowshoeing in winter.
There are forty miles of trails to hike, which traverse through the heavily forested areas of the park, ponds, and the rarely visited marshes. You can also spend a memorable night at the cabins at Bear Hill Pond or the 101 site campground at Beaver Pond.
Bear Brook is also home to various species of wildlife. Black bears, turkeys, squirrels, moose, deer, and many other animals live in the park. There are also plenty of bird-watching opportunities around the ponds.
4. Pillsbury State Park
|Pillsbury State Park|
|Animal to See||Loons|
|Attraction to See||Mount Sunapee Resort|
Pillsbury State Park, located between Washington and Goshen, is a densely forested park with numerous ponds and wetlands. Visit the park to explore the evergreen groves, dense deciduous trees, cellar holes, and the long-forgotten mill sites that date back to the 1800s.
Pillsbury is a perfect place for those who want to experience primitive camping. It has one of the most rustic campgrounds with very little running water and no electricity. But you’ll still be able to get a hefty dose of mother nature.
It’s not only loons that you will see while enjoying the outdoors. You may catch sight of bears, moose, otters, beavers, and turkeys within the park’s diverse habitats.
5. Coleman State Park
|Coleman State Park|
|Animal to See||Common Loon|
|Attraction to See||Little Diamond Pond|
Coleman State Park is a great place for hiking, fishing, picnicking, camping, and different water sports activities. Fishing enthusiasts visit the park mainly to fish for trout at the Little Diamond Pond and nearby streams.
Coleman is also a perfect place for camping. It offers over 25 camping sites with direct access to trails. All the sites are great for a peaceful night, especially if you don’t mind the sound of ATVs.
6. Rollins State Park
|Rollins State Park|
|Animal to See||Grassland Birds and Waterfowls|
|Attraction to See||Mount Kearsarge|
Set right on the southern slope of Mount Kearsarge, Rollins State Park is the most exciting place in New Hampshire. Hiking the trails is a perfect way to explore the place. All the trails in the park offer amazing views of the Boston area, lush forests, crotched mountains, and river valleys.
The Lincoln Trail is the easiest trail to traverse but may not be suited for kids due to numerous rocky sections. You will be able to see dozens of grassland birds and other wildlife while on this trail.
7. Echo Lake State Park
[Image needed. – Caption: Echo Lake State Park is home to different types of waterfowl such as herons, teals, and mallards.]
|Echo Lake State Park|
|Animal to See||Birds like hawks, eagles, and vultures|
|Attraction to See||Cathedral edge and White Horse Ledge|
Echo Lake State Park is situated in North Conway, New Hampshire. It is most known for its rocky ledges, dramatic granite cliffs, and walleye fishing. The park offers year-round opportunities to enjoy several outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, swimming, and boating.
Echo Lake is home to different types of waterfowl such as herons, teals, and mallards. You may also see eagles, vultures, owls, and songbirds soaring through the valleys and canyons. Other animals like bobcats, coyotes, deer, and cottontails also call Echo Lake home.
8. Crawford Notch State Park
|Crawford Notch State Park|
|Animal to See||Ducks|
|Attraction to See||White Mountain National Forest|
Crawford Notch State Park is in New Hampshire and is between Bartlett and Bretton Woods. It has a lot of wildlife viewing, fishing, waterfalls, and hiking trails that lead to beautiful mountain views.
In addition to beautiful rivers and forests, there is also the Willey House’s historical site to explore within the park. This is where the Willey family died in a landslide during a violent storm. Across the road from the historical site is a pond full of ducks and two incredible trails with perfect views of the surroundings.
9. Franconia Notch State Park
|Franconia Notch State Park|
|Animal to See||Deer|
|Attraction to See||The White Mountains National Forest|
Located in the northern part of New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park is home to stunning landscapes. Visit the place any time of the year to explore lush forests, beautiful lakes, granite rock faces, rivers, and mountain summits.
Visit Cannon Mountain and Lafayette Place Campground for bird-watching opportunities. Other animals like deer and bears can be found along the green, grassy ski slopes of Franconia Notch.
10. Milan Hill State Park
|Milan Hill State Park|
|Animal to See||Several species of birds and fishes|
|Attraction to See||Yurts|
Featuring a 1932 firetower and its yurts, Milan Hill State Park is a perfect place for kayaking, picnicking, hiking, stargazing, canoeing, camping, and fishing. From the hilltop campground within Milan Hill State Park, you can get a complete view of the surrounding series of mountains in Canada, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
The park also offers playground equipment for children. Take an easy hike to the fire tower. Even small children can walk through this trail. The view from the top is magnificent throughout the year, but autumn is particularly extraordinary due to the spectacular fall foliage.