Discover the 10 Best State & National Parks in New Hampshire

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: April 23, 2022
Image Credit haveseen/Shutterstock.com
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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 Historic Site
Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is among the only two places in America that contain original sculptures from the famed artist.

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.com

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
Size190 Acres
Animal to SeeWhite-tailed Deer
Attraction to SeePath 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
Thousands of hikers attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail every year, but few make it.

EWY Media/Shutterstock.com

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Size2,200 Miles Long
Animal to SeeBlack Bear
Attraction to SeeClingmans 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
Bear Brook is also home to various species of wildlife.

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

Bear Brook State Park
Size10,083 Acres
Animal to SeeBlack Bear
Attraction to SeeCharmingfare 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
Pillsbury State Park is a densely forested park with numerous ponds and wetlands.

Catharine Britt/Shutterstock.com

Pillsbury State Park
Size4,456 Acres
Animal to SeeLoons
Attraction to SeeMount 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 New Hampshire - Little Diamond Pond
Coleman State Park is a great place for hiking, fishing, picnicking, camping, and different water sports activities.

Joe Viger/Shutterstock.com

Coleman State Park
Size1,573 Acres
Animal to SeeCommon Loon
Attraction to SeeLittle 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
Rollins State Park is the most exciting place in New Hampshire.

Corey T Burns/Shutterstock.com

Rollins State Park
Size118.5 Acres
Animal to SeeGrassland Birds and Waterfowls
Attraction to SeeMount 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

Echo Lake State park

haveseen/Shutterstock.com

[Image needed. – Caption: Echo Lake State Park is home to different types of waterfowl such as herons, teals, and mallards.]

Echo Lake State Park
Size15.7 Acres
Animal to SeeBirds like hawks, eagles, and vultures
Attraction to SeeCathedral 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 New Hampshire
Crawford Notch State Park has a lot of wildlife viewing, fishing, waterfalls, and hiking trails that lead to beautiful mountain views.

James Dillon/Shutterstock.com

Crawford Notch State Park
Size5,775 Acres
Animal to SeeDucks
Attraction to SeeWhite 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
Franconia Notch is also home to diverse animals, including snowshoe hares, bears, deer, and moose.

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

Franconia Notch State Park
Size6,692.8 Acres
Animal to SeeDeer
Attraction to SeeThe 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.

Franconia Notch is also home to diverse animals, including snowshoe hares, bears, deer, and moose. Bay-breasted warblers, Blackurnian, ospreys, and common loons only reside in the park during summer.

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
Size102 Acres
Animal to SeeSeveral species of birds and fishes
Attraction to SeeYurts

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.

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