Hiking Near Plymouth, NH

The purpose of this project is to inspire people to get outside and hike. I wanted to first challenge myself to take part in this amazing extracurricular activity, and then pass on the challenge to others. Hiking is important to me because many of my college courses have encouraged us, as students, to help promote fun ways of motivating people to exercise. Cardiovascular exercise like hiking has numerous physiological benefits for the body. I wanted to organize a collection of pictures and information on local hikes that I’ve recently completed, which vary in difficulty to encompass all fitness levels. People can use this guide as a way to choose an appropriate hike for their skill level and have no worries of encountering something unexpected. If you feel up for a challenge, I encourage all of you to attempt each hike listed below!

Tips:

Here are some tips for hiking, not from an expert, but just some recommendations based on my experiences.

  • Wear a comfortable backpack, preferably with a waist strap to take tension off your shoulders and back
  • Have a first aid kit with you
  • Bring a map or picture of the trail/trails you intend to hike
  • Bring plenty of water; having too much is better than not enough. You will get thirsty!
  • Bring a snack that that can help raise blood sugar levels
  • Wear layers and bring an extra warm piece of clothing
  • Try to wear hiking boots or shoes with good ankle support and grip
  • Bring or wear microspikes if there’s a chance of encountering snow and ice
  • Bring trekking poles if you have them
  • Hike with at least one other person
  • Tell someone where you are heading and the approximate time you will be gone (there often isn’t cell phone service on mountains and trails)
  • Always be checking for trail markers
  • Take in and enjoy the scenery!

Hikes:

Fox Park

Location: Plymouth, NH

Parking: Parking lot is your first left after turning on to Prince Haven Rd. 

Time from Plymouth State: 3 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate moving time: Varies

Approximate Distance: Varies

Hiking at Fox Park is different than most hikes because the trail network is pretty complex and there’s no common loop. The good thing is that you can set your own desired distance or time for your hike. This is a great starting point for someone new to hiking because you can explore the wooded land and the stream running through while staying close to the parking lot. If your new to hiking, it will allow you to identify what your capable of when it comes to the duration of a hike. If you choose to venture into the woods just be sure to first take a picture of the trail map located by the parking lot. I walked along the Kenniston and Stairway trails before circling back to check out the pond just down the hill off of the Kenniston trial for a total of 0.75 miles. There’re small hills on these trails but the land is mostly flat making this a pretty easy place to hike. 

Walter/Newton Natural Area Trail

Location: Plymouth, NH

Parking: 10 Cummings Rd. Plymouth, NH and follow the road for one mile after turning off Daniel Webster Highway until seeing parking spaces on your right. 

Time from Plymouth State: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate moving time: 1 hour

Approximate distance: 1.5 miles

I began this hike on the Newton trail, which is about 0.9 miles, but it’s also commonly entered on the Walter trail which is about 0.6 miles. It’s a loop so you will end up on both at some point. There’s a beautiful waterfall where the two trails meet, so if you’re interested in just seeing the waterfall you could take the Walter trail in and out for a shorter distance. The trails themselves are nice and clear with some small hills, but you will spend most of your time walking on a slight incline or decline. You will cross a stream over some man-made bridges at a few points in the hike. Overall, this hike is very fun and not overly challenging.

West Rattlesnake Natural Area: Old Bridle Path

Location: Holderness, NH

Parking: If heading north on Rt. 113 parking is on you right shortly after passing Pinehurst Rd.

Time from Plymouth State: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate moving time: 45 minutes

Approximate distance: 1.7 miles

Old Bridle Path is a relatively short hike out and back on Rattlesnake mountain. It has a steady incline as you ascend for around 400 feet of elevation gain. The hike takes approximately 25 minutes to reach the top. It offers beautiful views of Squam Lake that make the hike well worth it. The incline makes this hike just slightly more challenging than the Walter/Newton trail loop. This trail is highly trafficked as you will likely see many people on the trail. It offers no difficult obstacles making it suitable for most people.

Mount Prospect Trail

Location: Holderness, NH

Parking: Along the right side of the road, and shortly after passing Prospect Ridge Rd. if your heading northeast on Mount Prospect Rd.

Time from Plymouth State: 8 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate moving time: 1 hour 45 minutes  

Approximate distance: 3.5 miles

Mount Prospect Trail is a good-sized hike located very close to Plymouth State. It’s a pretty constant incline with some steeper sections near the top. You will gain around 1,100 ft of elevation on this hike. This trail does not have great marking so you should have a map of the hike beforehand. Near the top is a fork, where I stayed left. I later found out that trail to the right offers a vista and some great views. Judging by the lack of parking, this trial should be lightly trafficked with other people. The views from the top are good but not quite as spectacular as some of the other hikes; however, it’s still well worth the time.  

Welch and Dicky Loop Trail

Location: Thornton, NH

Parking: Lot is located at the end of Orris Rd. in Thornton, NH after staying right at the fork in on Orris Rd.

Time from Plymouth State: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

Approximate moving time: 2 hours

Approximate distance: 4 miles

The Welch and Dicky loop is an incredibly fun hike. I’ve hiked this trail a few times as it is my favorite hike to date. Plan on around 4 hours total for the trip because you will stop multiple times to take in the spectacular views. The elevation gain is near 1,800 ft. While the hike up is not overly challenging, near the top half becomes pretty steep and the rock faces could deter people away who fear heights. The hike down is really nice and gradual. Overall, this hike offers amazing views for a relatively shorter hike and is also very fun. This trail is heavily trafficked as you can expect to see many people on the trail.

Mount Jackson via Webster-Jackson Trail

Location: Crawford Notch State Park

Parking: Along the side of Rt. 302 near Saco Lake

Time from Plymouth State: 50 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Approximate moving time: 4 hours

Approximate distance: 5.2 miles

Mount Jackson is one of New Hampshire’s 4,000 ft. mountains at around 4,052 ft tall. The Webster-Jackson trail is a great hike but could be very difficult for some people. This is another one of my favorites. The trail has a pretty steep incline for most of the hike and you will gain around 2,200 feet of elevation in total. The terrain at the bottom is pretty easy, but the top requires some rock climbing and has some very steep sections. This trail is likely not the best for someone new to hiking but it could be manageable. Plan on around 5 to 6 hours to complete the hike if you intend to eat lunch at the top and check out the amazing views for a bit. Although it will likely be exhausting, this hike is totally worth the time it takes.