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Fall Hiking Guide 2019: Trails, Gear, and Even How To Find Company On The Trail

Aug 23, 2019 04:11PM ● By Sue Baldani
Fall is a great time to go hiking. The temperatures are comfortable, the leaves are bursting with color, and the weather is mostly dry. The Upper Valley offers many wonderful opportunities to get outdoors, whether you’re a novice or casual hiker or an experienced, dedicated trail blazer.

Before you set out though, there are some preparations you may want to take.


WEAR THE RIGHT FOOTWARE

Check out the terrain and difficulty of the trail you plan to hike. If it’s designated as easy, a simple pair of sneakers or walking shoes might suffice. But if the trail is marked moderate or difficult, then a good pair of hiking boots will be needed. There are many styles and price points, so your best bet is to go to an actual sporting goods store where the employees can guide you in the right direction. (You can find some stores at the end of this guide.) They’ll also make sure you get the right fit, which is critical. Nothing can wreck a hike like sore feet or blistered toes. Evenings are a good time to go boot shopping since your feet tend to swell during the day - what might be a good fit first thing in the morning may not work for you later in the day. If you wear orthotics, bring them along to place in the boot. Also, before the hike, make sure you break those boots in.

 

PROTECT YOUR FEET

While in the store, you may also want to pick up some socks. Try them on with the boots to make sure the thickness leaves enough room for your feet to still fit comfortably. Those cotton ones you wear during the week or while doing home repairs will not work well on long hikes. Wool and synthetic materials are the best to keep feet dry, which is important since wet feet will lead to blisters. If the hike is going to be very long, take an extra pair to change into once the first pair gets sweaty.

 

HYDRATE AND SNACK ALONG THE WAY

Another important item to have, and possibly the most important, is water. Bring plenty of it, and have a sturdy water bottle to keep it in. Dehydration can set in very quickly when you’re doing something physically demanding. And remember to add fuel to your body by taking the time to eat a granola bar, some nuts, fruit and other healthy and protein filled snacks.

 

PROTECT YOUR SKIN AND EYES

Don’t forget sunscreen; it’s not just for the beach. Apply lip balm with an SPF factor as well. Also, to protect your eyes and avoid glare, bring along your sunglasses.

 

OTHER ITEMS TO ADD TO YOUR LIST

Use a good bug spray or wear some kind of bracelet or other device that contains DEET, some biodegradable wipes, a small first aid kit, and some rain gear. These things will help you enjoy your time on the trail while staying safe and comfortable.

 

DON’T GET LOST

No matter how good you think you are at finding your way, bring a map. Most parks and trails have them available on site, but you can also usually download one from the internet. https://www.nhstateparks.org/activities/hiking/trail-maps-and-information

These are especially helpful if there are multiple trails of different lengths and difficulty; with a map, you can easily choose the one you want to follow that day.

So, lace up your sneakers, walking shoes or hiking boots and check out some of these destinations below. Enjoy!

 

Spruce Mountain, Plainfield, NH - moderate


Features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/vermont/spruce-mountain

 

Rollins State Park, Warner, NH - moderate

Mount Kearsarge via Rollins and Lincoln Trail is a 1-mile loop trail that features a great forest setting and is good for all skill levels. The picnic area, located in a natural wooded glen beneath granite ledges, is historically referred to as the "Garden." It affords views that stretch from Mt. Monadnock to the hills of New Hampshire's coastal plain. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and snowshoeing. Dogs are allowed.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/rollins-state-park

 

Stevenson Brook Trail, Waterbury, VT - easy

A 4.5-mile moderately trafficked loop trail that features a river and is good for all skill levels. Besides hiking, the trail offers a number of activity options such as skiing, snowshoeing and birding. Hiking is best from May until October. Dogs are welcome. www.alltrails.com/trail/us/vermont/stevenson-brook-trail

 

Winslow State Park, Wilmot, NH - moderate

A 1-mile foot trail leads from the picnic area to the summit of Mt. Kearsarge. A 1-3/4-mile trail offers a loop possibility. Pet friendly. Picnic, playground and restrooms. Lookout tower and beautiful wild flowers. Best used from May until November.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/winslow-state-park

 

Mount Morgan and Mount Percival Loop, Center Sandwich, NH - easy

A 4.9-mile heavily trafficked loop trail that features a cave and beautiful wildflowers. The trail is primarily used for hiking between April and October. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/percival-morgan-loop-trail

 

Monadnock State Park, Jaffrey, NH – various levels

The 40 miles of trails offer opportunities for hiking, picnicking, bird watching, and country skiing. It also features a spectacular 3,165-foot summit, with 100-mile views of the surrounding area. Monadnock is said to be one of the most climbed mountains in the world, second only to Mt. Fuji in Japan! No pets allowed.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/monadnock-state-park

 

Snake Mountain, Middlebury, VT - moderate

A 4.9-mile heavily trafficked loop trail primarily for hiking and mountain biking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. www.alltrails.com/trail/us/vermont/snake-mountain

 

Moose Brook State Park, Gorham, NH – various levels

Located in the White Mountains Region just north of the Presidential Range, Moose Brook State Park is in an area of unparalleled scenery and offers a variety of outdoor activities. Moose Brook flows through the park and, after passing through a shallow warming pool, feeds the swimming area with cool, clear mountain water. The many trails in the park are great for exploring on foot or mountain bike.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/pet-friendly-state-parks/moose-brook-state-park

 

Crawford Notch State Park, Hart's Location, NH - various levels

Located in the White Mountains, this park offers popular family hikes to unique cliffs and brisk waterfalls including Arethusa Falls, the highest in the state.  Most trails leave the park and enter the White Mountain National Forest.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/pet-friendly-state-parks/crawford-notch-state-park

 

Boston Lot Lake, West Lebanon, NH - moderate

A 2.4-mile loop trail that features beautiful wild flowers and a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also welcome on this trail.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/boston-lot-lake

 

Mount Sunapee, Andrew Brook Trail, Newbury, NH – moderate

A 3.7-mile out and back trail that features a lake. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best from May until October. Dogs are also allowed to walk on this trail.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/mount-sunapee-andrew-brook-trail

 

Franconia Notch State Park - Franconia/Lincoln, NH – moderate to difficult

The park provides access to many popular trails leading into the National Forest. Trails range from moderate to difficult. Camping is available in the park. Pets are prohibited on the paved multi-use "Franconia Recreational Path," but there are designated dog walk areas at the Tramway and Flume. 

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/pet-friendly-state-parks/franconia-notch-state-park

 

Cole Pond, Enfield, NH – easy

A 2.1-mile trail that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and snowshoeing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also allowed on this trail but must be kept on a leash.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/cole-pond

 

Red Hill via Eagle Cliff Trail, Center Sandwich, NH – very difficult

A 4.8-mile trail that features a great forest setting and is recommended for only very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Leashed dogs are also allowed on this trail.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/new-hampshire/red-hill-via-eagle-cliff-trail

 

Cardigan Mountain State Park, Orange, NH – moderate to difficult

This park offers great views into Vermont and the south side of the White Mountains. Cardigan Mountain State Park spans 5,655 acres and is an excellent area for hiking. A mountain road leads to trails on the west slope of Mount Cardigan as well as a trail to the summit. Mount Cardigan's 3,121-foot treeless granite summit affords outstanding views of west central New Hampshire, with a panorama that includes Mount Monadnock and the White Mountains, Camel's Hump in Vermont, and Pleasant Mountain in Maine.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/cardigan-mountain-state-park.aspx

 

Duxbury Window Trail, Waterbury, VT - moderate

A 3-mile moderately trafficked out and back trail that features beautiful wild flowers and activity options such as hiking, birding, and snowshoeing and is accessible year-round. Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail.

www.alltrails.com/trail/us/vermont/duxbury-window--2

 

Pawtuckaway State Park, Nottingham, NH – various levels

Offers a variety of landscapes, with something to do and see for everyone. The park includes a large family beach on the lake. There are many opportunities for hiking, with trails leading to many special points of interest, including a mountaintop fire tower; an extensive marsh where beavers, deer, and great blue herons may be seen, and a geologically unique field where large boulders called glacial erratics were deposited when glacial ice melted near the end of the Ice Age. 

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/pet-friendly-state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park

 

The Storrs Pond Recreation Area, Hanover, NH – various levels

Offers a variety of hiking trails to accommodate all ages and abilities. In addition to the trails, there are several locations to easily access the ever-expanding trail system surrounding the area. Users of multi-use trails may include hikers, bikers, equestrians, OHRVs, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and sled dogs.

www.storrspond.org/activities/hiking/

 

Sugar River Recreational Rail Trail, Newport/Claremont, NH – various levels

This 9-mile trail begins at the Newport Recreation Department on Belknap Ave in Newport and ends at Washington Street in Claremont. The trail boasts two historic covered bridges and meanders along the Sugar River.

www.nhstateparks.org/visit/recreational-rail-trails/sugar-river-recreational-rail-trail

 

WANT COMPANY ON THE TRAILS?

If you prefer hiking with others, there are many websites to connect you with people who enjoy the outdoors. For example, if you go to www.meetup.com/, and type in where you live, you’ll find some great groups of likeminded people such as the ones mentioned here.

This is a meet-up group for people who want to explore their environment, take walks or hikes, experience nature, photograph, and meet other people in the process.

Meet new people and make new friends. All those who desire to experience the outdoors    and like skiing, hiking, biking, & kayaking are welcome. Informal gatherings for movies and dinners, and just to have fun.

This group is for those who wish to hike the trails and mountain tops of New England. Most members are 50+ years old. Membership will be limited to ensure there is availability to attend hikes and to avoid lengthy waiting lists. Whether it is a day hike or a backpacking trip through the Whites, our goal is to enjoy what the mountains have to offer. We are not the fastest hikers, nor are we the slowest. Our pace is based on the group that is hiking. We like stop to enjoy the views and take pictures.

The L.L.Bean West Lebanon Outing and Adventure Club offers a wide range of events including free in-store clinics, guest speakers on outdoor themed topics, an outing club that engages in hiking, biking, fishing and paddling adventures and community service opportunities. The L.L.Bean West Lebanon Outing and Adventure Club offers a wide range of events including free in-store clinics, guest speakers on outdoor themed topics, an outing club that engages in hiking, biking, fishing and paddling adventures and community service opportunities.

 

SPORTING GOODS STORES FOR ALL YOUR HIKING NEEDS:

Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS)

8 Glen Road, Powerhouse Mall,
West Lebanon, NH
603-298-7716

www.ems.com/camp-and-hike/

 


8 Glen Road
West Lebanon, NH
603-298-6975

www.llbean.com/llb/shop/915?page=camping-gear&csp=f&nav=gnro-hp

 

Runnings

403 Washington Street
Claremont, NH
(603) 542-1574

runnings.com

 

Woodstock Sports

30 Central St.
Woodstock, VT
802-457-1568

www.woodstocksports.org/about

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