Wednesday, August 15, 2012

North Conway with Kids: 5 Great Hikes

Now that kid one is a big kid and kid two is two and a half with energy to spare, it is time for me to get back into the hiking game and bring the family along for the climb.  The trick is I want to hike, I want my kids to hike, I want my dog to hike, and I want us all to have fun.  I consider Zoe walking the whole way and Sammy walking at least half with minimal whining to be a success.

We are so lucky to live up here in the beautiful Mt. Washington Valley with great hiking in all directions and we have found some great spots.  I thought I would share a few of our favorites!

1. Boulder Loop

Boulder Loop is off the Kancamagus Highway near the entrance to the Covered Bridge Campground.  We love this hike, but I do have to say that we never actually do the whole thing.  Just a short way up the trail are huge, glacial boulders to climb on, under, around and over.  We bring a picnic, hike on up to the big rocks, climb like crazy, find a little rock cave to eat in, then hike back down.  After fun on the trail, we walk over to a tiny little beach under the covered bridge to cool off!

2. Diana's Bath

Located just off West Side Road on the way to Bartlett, Diana's Bath has been a favorite for as long as I can remember.  It is a very short hike, a bit more than a half mile, ending at a series of waterfalls that you can climb around, swim in, or just plain relax at.  There are a few bridges to cross and lots of logs to balance walk on next to the trail.  Small diversions like this always keep my kids excitement up as they go.  The whole trail is smooth enough to push a stroller on so it is a perfect first hike for the "big kid" to walk.  This trail can get very busy on hot summer days so plan accordingly.

3. The Red Bench

This one is a recent discovery and we loved it!  We packed up our letterboxing kits and headed north to the AMC's Highland Center.  After a relatively easy hike around half of Amonoosuc Lake, you take a hilly spur that ends at...a RED BENCH!  You can find the letterbox, eat a lunch, and talk about what great hikers you are.  My kids felt very proud of themselves after the climb.  Head back down the spur and hike the rest of the way around the lake.  There are some cameras at different places on the trail to record wildflower growth which was a great conversation piece.  The total length of the trail is about 2 miles and the best part is that after a job well done you can all go play at the amazing natural playscape on the grounds of the Highland Center!

4. Saco Lake Trail

Another great trail leaving from just across the street from the Highland Center.  Crossing a series of plank bridges and several rock hop stream crossings kept this trail an adventure.  There was lots of wildlife to see up close too.  The trail passed right by a great beaver dam, we saw ducks at several points on the pond, and best of all, a great blue heron flew right past us.  Even the little one walked the entire way and it was so fun to watch her trepidation as she approached the bridges when we started and her sense of pride as she crossed easily towards the end of the trail.

4. Black Cap Mountain

Finally...a summit recommendation!  Black Cap is a great first summit for your little climbers.  The trailhead begins after driving a good way up Hurricane Mountain Road.  You have already done a lot of the elevation gain in the car befor the hike begins so the kids don't have as far to go to feel the thrill of a summit.  Black Cap has a rocky peak with views in all directions.  You'll love it!

Happy Hiking!

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Hanna Andersson


  1. Great go to site for when I have family visit with kids, thanks.

  2. Good recommendations! I took my boys (5 and 8) up Peaked Mountain by Pudding Pond off Artist Falls Road. A tad steep perhaps but quick and they liked it.

  3. I've never done Peaked, I will have to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Thanks so much for some great kid-friendly hikes! Just what I was looking for with my three girls. We did 'Around-the-Lake' and Red Bench. Great choices for them to feel as if they'd conquered the mountains!

  5. Thank you for this post - looking forward to exploring some of these recommendations next week.

  6. Thank you for your blog! Appreciated your suggestions - we did black cap and Diana's bath. Both were fabulous and my family loved them! Beautiful place, we will be coming back!