You’ll be surprised how the easy hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire offer some of the most stunning vistas in the country. With towering peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and winding rivers, this region is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, especially if you’re a family who loves going on adventures together.
Hands down, there is no better way to explore this landscape than by hitting the trails as a family. And if you love creating memories with your loved ones, you’ll fall in love with the White Mountains. Whether you’re looking for a short and easy hike or a more challenging adventure, there is something for everyone.
We will guide you to some of the best family-friendly hikes in the White Mountains, share our best tips, and offer insights so you can get the most out of your hike.
So, grab your hiking boots and get ready to discover the natural beauty of New Hampshire’s White Mountains with your family!
What is special about the White Mountains?
The White Mountains are a mountain range located in the northern part of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. They are part of the Appalachian Mountains and are known for their rugged peaks, spectacular vistas, and numerous recreational opportunities.
The White Mountains are famous for their spectacular fall foliage, attracting visitors worldwide. The leaves on the trees turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange in the fall, creating a stunning display of color.
Hiking and skiing are also loved. The Appalachian Trail runs through the region, and you can take countless other trails. It’s also a cradle to numerous wildlife, including moose, black bears, and bald eagles.
Where are the White Mountains?
The White Mountains are in the northern part of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The region covers a massive area, including some sections of the White Mountain National Forest and several towns and villages, including Lincoln, Franconia, Conway, and North Conway. The region is easily accessible from major cities in the Northeast, including Boston and New York City, and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, skiers, and nature lovers.
Why is it called the White Mountains?
There are several theories as to why it was called the White Mountains. One is that the White Mountains are called so because of the appearance of the winter peaks when covered with snow. The term “white” could also describe the mountain range because of the exposed granite rock faces comprising the bulk of the peaks. They are often coated with snow and ice during winter, creating a distinctive white appearance visible from a distance. Another possible origin of the “White Mountains” could be the clouds that linger around the peaks frequently, giving the mountains a white appearance.
When is the Best Time to Hike in the White Mountains?
Summer is the best time to hike in the White Mountains but also the busiest. The warm weather invites many hikers, and the long days allow visitors to enjoy their journey longer. Although the sun is mostly out, it’s still essential to pack some layers and waterproof gear since the weather can change instantly. And with the pack of outdoor enthusiasts in the arena, parking becomes almost impossible, and nearly all the trails have heavy traffic.
Fall also brings in many hikers since the beauty of the foliage covering the mountains is a magical sight luring visitors. And with plenty of easy hikes in the White Mountains, it’s no surprise that the area is packed with people for leaf peeping.
During winter, most visitors prefer snowboarding and other winter sports. But that doesn’t mean that snowshoeing is any less fun! Just ensure you have everything you need to keep you warm and safe during your adventure.
It gets tricky hiking during spring due to snow melting. The trails are usually covered in mud, and movement can be challenging.
Looking for family friendly destinations?
Easy Family Hikes In The White Mountains, NH
GLEN ELLIS FALLS
Hiking the easy 0.3-mile trail to the towering 64-foot Glen Ellis Falls is one of the most accessible trails you can follow in the White Mountains. Accessible through NH-16, it will only take you less than 10 minutes to reach.
The trail starts with a stair leading down to the river, and on the way, you’ll also come across a mini waterfall. The journey is a mixture of smooth granite paths and stone steps. Once you reach the base of Glen Ellis Falls, you can take pictures and videos. Swimming is strictly not allowed! You can use the stone stairs near the falls to go up and capture the beauty of the falls from a different angle.
One of the tallest waterfalls in the White Mountains, the 45-foot tall Sabbaday Falls is super easy via a 0.3-mile gravel trail. The trail is wheelchair accessible, and you can also push your baby’s stroller around. Sitting along Kancamagus Highway, this falls has three cascades that end in a mini pool at the bottom. Although the water is very enticing, swimming is not allowed (bummer, right?!). But if you’re searching for short and easy hikes in the White Mountains, this one is worth the spot on your itinerary.
RAIL ‘N RIVER TRAIL
Sitting at the back of Russell Colbath House along Kancamagus Highway, this half-mile trail will only need roughly thirty minutes to complete. This one must be on your list if you want easy hikes in the White Mountains. It’s an interpretive trail where you will learn about the area’s past. It’s also flat and wheelchair accessible, so anyone can enjoy discovering the history of the place while simmering the refreshing ambiance of nature.
The 1.3-mile trail to this 75-foot tall fall only asks half an hour to reach and back. At the start of the trail, three small cascades will welcome you, and more will surprise you as you follow the path. And since it’s very accessible, the place is usually packed with visitors, so be there as early as possible.
With waters coming from Big Attitash Mountain through Lucy Brook, the refreshing atmosphere at Dianas’s Bath is a major plus, especially if you can’t go hardcore on waterfall chasing if you have little kids tagging on your journey. Dip into the freshwater pools and enjoy the scenery while relaxing! Diana’s Bath must be part of your easy hikes in the White Mountains itinerary!
If you and your family love biking, you can trace the Lincoln Wood trail pedaling all the way through. Following the Kancamagus Highway, you’ll stumble into the White Mountain National Forest, where the 6.4-mile (roundtrip) trail lies. It offers a relatively leveled path; anyone can enjoy this stroll through the area. And at the end of the trail, the majestic beauty of Franconia Falls will wow you. And depending on whether you hike or bike, you might need to dedicate at least an hour and a half to complete the trail. The Lincoln Woods also serves as a gateway to many trailheads leading you to multi-day hikes to thousand-foot high peaks!
Just a couple of miles away from the Lincoln Woods, the 2-mile Discovery Trail loop will take you on an educational journey at the heart of nature. Through paths of gravel and dirt with little to no inclines, you’ll learn about the area’s ecosystem with the help of the signages and plaques along the trail, as well as a brochure you can get from the box at the trailhead. It is nothing fancy compared to others in this guide, but the knowledge you’ll bring home is priceless. This one lives up to its name! Take advantage of educational, easy hikes in the White Mountains when you can!
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Easy Hikes With Great Views In The White Mountains
ELEPHANT HEAD TRAIL
Just 0.3 miles and will only take half an hour to complete, the Elephant Head Trail is one of the easiest in the White Mountains, with rewards of stunning views of the south and north Crawford Notch and the Willey Range. The name was from the rock formation at the hillside like an elephant peeking its head out.
From I-93 N, exit at 35, cruise through Route 3 until you’re at Route 302, and turn right. You’ll get to Crawford Notch State Park after driving for another 12 miles. You’ll pass by Saco Lake on your left and the AMC Highland Center on your right. Keep your eyes open and look for the elephant head where the trail starts.
BLACK CAP PATH
3.5 miles from Route 16, and you’ll find the trailhead of Black Cap Path at Hurricane Mountain Road. This 2.4-mile trail will need between 2 and 3 hours to complete and is one of the easy hikes in the White Mountains that offers picturesque views at the top.
The journey offers enough challenges but nothing that older kids can’t do. You might also need to wear waterproof hiking shoes since some parts of the trail can be muddy. Enjoy strolling through the beech forest, and once you’re at the top, you’ll capture the sight of Mt. Washington and a few peaks from Maine and the NH White Mountains.
Another trail for a family hike, the 3.2-mile loop trail of Lonesome Lake at Cannon Mountain, only needs roughly 2 hours to complete. It doesn’t lead you up to the mountain’s summit, but the wooden planks on the way will give you a magical view of the lake with the Franconia Ridge in the backdrop. You’ll also spot Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette from here.
At the end of the trail by the lake, there’s the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut, where you can get food and refreshments, so bring extra money for snacks. To get to the trailhead, get to Lafayette Place campground by taking southbound I-93.
ECHO LAKE TRAIL
One of the easy hikes in the White Mountains is just a mile of easy walking, where the beauty of Echo Lake is waiting. The trail is also well-marked, so you won’t be lost. During summer, you can plunge into the freshwater after the hike, surrounded by the allure of the mountains and granite rocks. You can also head to the south end of the lake, where there’s a beach area. In winter, you’ll need to use snowshoes for your safety.
If you want to extend this 20-minute journey, you can continue to follow the trail leading to the 700-foot Cathedral Ledge and 800-foot White Horse Ledge. You can climb these cliffs if you’re an experienced climber. Echo Lake Trail is open all year, so you can visit anytime. Just remember to bring proper gear for the season.
PRESIDENTIAL RANGE RAIL TRAIL
This 4.9-mile easy trail will take around an hour and a half to complete and will guide you through the wonders of Pondicherry Nature Refuge at the northern end of the White Mountains. The area is rich with flora and fauna, with the scenic appeal of the Cherry Pond and Little Cherry.
The gravel-covered trail is mostly flat, so even little kids can do this hike without problems. It’s quickly one of the easy hikes in the White Mountains that the entire family can enjoy. Just ensure you wear microspikes during winter. Birdwatching is particularly a must since 234 species are calling the Refuge their home. There are also smaller trails that you can explore as alternatives along the way.
You can reach Pondicherry by driving 4.3 miles east of Route 115. Then, take a left turn and cruise along Airport Road for another 1.5 miles until you see a small parking lot on your right.
Short & Day Hikes In The White Mountains
ARTISTS BLUFF/BALD MOUNTAIN
Definitely a must-hike for families who want easy hikes in the White Mountains since it will only need around a couple of hours to finish. The 1.5-mile loop trail of Artists Bluff will take you to a ledge with views of Echo Lake and Franconia Notch State Park. And if you visit during fall, you’ll find the summit overlooking a sea of colorful foliage that no words could do justice.
The trail is super easy with few boulders to conquer (nothing dramatic!) until you reach the ledge on top of Artists Bluff. Now, you’ll see a sign if you detour to Bald Mountain. It needs some courage since the path can be steep, so you might need to scramble your way. You can skip this if you want. But once at Bald Mountain, you’ll see a rock with “Bluff” painted on it, pointing back to Artists Bluff.
LOST RIVER GORGE AND BOULDER CAVES
At Kinsman Notch, wooden boardwalks, stairs, hanging bridges, and 11 boulder caves are waiting for you at the 1-mile loop trail of Lost River Gorge. If you’re pushing a stroller, you need to switch to a baby carrier instead to traverse the journey.
As you follow the trail, your little ones will enjoy the massive bird’s nest and treehouse and the thrill of crossing the hanging bridge. Remember, only enter the giant glacial boulder caves if you’re confident enough in your skills since you’ll need to squeeze through some of them just to get in. It’s one of the most family-friendly easy hikes in the White Mountains and will take 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
This 2.2- mile loop out and back easy trail of Basin-Cascades Trail is a journey of waterfall chasing. Starting at I-93 in Franconia Notch State Park and after a few minutes of walking for 0.7 miles through Pemi Trail, you’ll reach The Basin and, after a few more minutes, Baby Flume. Both are small waterfalls with their beauty. As you go further, you’ll hit the Basin-Cascade Trail leading you to the 15-foot Kinsman Falls and 35-foot Rocky Glen Falls.
These falls cascade to numerous mini-falls, crushing the rocks with power. And with the sun peeking through the leaves of the trees, you’ll capture some of the most scenic shots during your easy hikes in the White Mountains. Taking the Basin-Cascades will only need at least an hour to finish. Remember, it can be muddy and slippery if you hit the trails after rain.
Another family-friendly and easy but challenging trail your family can take is the 3-2-mile Mount Willard. Depending on your pace, this journey can take at least a couple of hours, with almost a 1,000 feet elevation gain.
The trail offers jaw-dropping views of Crawford Notch, which you’ll usually only see in travel magazines. You’ll have Mt. Willey on the right and Mt. Webster on the left. And if you come during summer, you can also dip in the swimming hole along the trail. Park close to US-302 at AMC Crawford Notch Depot to get to the trail.
Only covering 1.8 miles to complete and an elevation of 450 feet, the Wear Rattlesnake offers a stunning view of Squam Lake. As you go further down the trail, the trees transition into staghorn sumac and red pine. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot the rare Douglas’ knotweed native in the area.
To get there, exit 24 from 93, head for US-3, and continue driving until you reach US-113. Take a left turn after driving for another 5 miles and look for a parking lot on your left side. Follow the Old Bridle Path, which will lead you to the viewpoint. Mark it as part of the easy hikes in the White Mountains that you want to conquer!
With boardwalks to follow, the 2-mile loop Flume Gorge will take you through towering granite walls between 70 to 90 feet tall, covered with moss, cascading waterfalls, and massive boulders. The journey will take roughly an hour and a half, and the hike combines boardwalks, stairs, and gravel paths with trees providing shelter overhead.
From the entrance, your first stop is the Flume Covered Bridge, and the path goes uphill until you reach the Boulder Cabin. And from there, you’ll hit Table Rock and then Flume Gorge. The place is usually super crowded, so visit early in the morning. The scenery is straight out of an elf movie. Following the trail, you’ll spot the Bear Cave on the right and end in the 45-foot-tall Avalanche Falls.
Then, Liberty Gorge will welcome you before you get to the Sentinel Pine Covered Bridge and The Pool. After spending some time here and taking snaps, head to Wildwood Path, which leads back to the visitor center.
Long Easy Hikes In The White Mountains
EAST PEAK MOUNT OSCEOLA
If you’re searching for long, easy hikes in the White Mountains, you won’t find any that don’t pose any challenge one way or the other. But on the easy end of moderate, you can try to conquer one of the 4000-footers of New Hampshire, the 4,165-foot East Peak Mount Osceola, accessible via the Kancamagus Highway.
This 8.4-mile journey will need at least five hours and a half out and back. You can enjoy stunning views at Mount Osceola, although there’s little to see from East Peak since there are plenty of trees, and the only marking you’ll see that you reached your destination is a massive rock cairn.
Take the Mount Osceola Trail, where it’s relatively flat but be prepared for a rocky and slippy path towards the summit of Mount Osceola. From the summit, take the trail on the left to East Peak, which gradually declines. There are rocks, but they’re pretty easy to traverse. It includes going down the 25-foot vertical climb known as the “The Chimney” to reach East Peak. You need to climb it up again once you’ve rested and started to head back.
Easy Winter Hikes In The White Mountains
Just 3 miles of roundtrip hike where you’ll meet New Hampshire’s tallest waterfalls, the 160-foot Arethusa Falls. It’s famous for those who love snowshoeing and ice climbing. So if you have the skills and the equipment, the frozen waters of this gem will give you an experience of a lifetime.
Start at Crawford Notch on US-302. You’ll bypass the Coliseum Falls and Bemis Brook Falls along the trail. You can extend your hike and choose from nearby trails or spend more time at Dry River Campground. Be there early in the morning to avoid parking issues, and remember to wear and bring proper gear for your journey! If you’re still searching for winter easy hikes in the White Mountains, you must follow through with a hike here.
Enjoy a family-friendly winter hike in the White Mountains conquering Mount Kearsarge via the Winslow Trail. The trail itself is only roughly 2.2 miles out and back. But during the winter, the road closure will top it off with another couple of miles. Snowshoeing and skiing are also popular in this area.
The hike has a slight incline from the trailhead signage, and if you’ve never hiked during winter, you might need extra effort for the journey. Halfway through the trail, it starts to gain steepness. Remember to wear microspikes or ensure that your snowshoes are equipped with crampons so you don’t slip, especially your little ones.
Once you’re at the summit, your reward includes the stunning beauty of Mt. Lafayette, Pemi Loop peaks, and South Twin. You’ll also see the famous fire tower at the top. If you visit on a clear summer day, you’ll also spot more mountains such as Mount Monadnock, Mount Sunapee andUncanoonuc Mountains.
To get to the trailhead, cruise through I-89 and exit at 10. From there, just keep driving, following the signage to Winslow State Park. It will only take around 10 minutes. The entire journey can consume 4 hours to 6 hours, depending on your pace.
Easy To Moderate Hikes In The White Mountains
MIDDLE & NORTH SUGARLOAF
A twin hike with priceless views from the top. And mind you. They offer different angles. So if you and your family want to experience the White Mountains from two perspectives, the Middle and North Sugarloaf hike is for you.
Only 3.2 miles out and back, and it will only take two and a half hours to complete the Sugarloaf Trail. It’s well-marked, leading you to a ladder to the top of Middle Sugarloaf, where a massive open area offers 270-degree views of Mount Washington, Mount Rosebrook, and Mount Hale (just to name a few). You’ll also see the North Sugarloaf peak from here. Now, head back to the trail and continue traversing the path toward North Sugarloaf. The vistas here are not as jaw-dropping as that of the Middle. But you’ll be sorry for missing this opportunity.
This twin hike deserves a spot on your list of easy hikes in the White Mountains, whether with your family or your pet.
PINE MOUNTAIN LOOP
Another easy 3.5 miler, the Pine Mountain Loop, offers fantastic views without straining yourself. Very kid-friendly. You don’t need the whole day to finish the hike.
At the start of the journey, the path is relatively flat. You’ll even come across an open field. But after a few minutes of walking, you’ll hit the split in the trail. Take the right one. Again as you go further down the route, you will see another division. This time take the left. After a few more strolls through the blueberry bushes, you’ll see the summit’s opening. From the top, there’s Mount Major, Belknap Range, and Lake Winnipesaukee. There’s also an information board that will help you identify which mountain is which.
To get to the trailhead at Pinkham B Road from Rudolph Hill’s base, continue driving for another 2.5 miles and look for Horton Center Signage. From there, you’ll also see Pine Mountain Road, and across it is the Pine Link Trail, where you can park at the empty lot.
BRIDAL VEIL FALLS
This 35-foot waterfall is doable in a half-day easy hike via the 5-mile out-and-back Coppermine Trail. As the name suggests, the waters here look like a veil. And if you want to extend your trip, you can detour to the nearby “Bridesmaid Falls,” Noble Falls, and Holden Falls. Want to stay the night? Pack up your sleeping bags and head straight to the Coppermine Shelter, just 0.2 miles from the falls. It’s open on an FCFS basis, so grab your spot early. If you’re still short on easy hikes in the White Mountains, the allure of Bridal Veil Falls makes it worth the effort.
BOULDER LOOP TRAIL
With the scenic vistas showcasing the wonders of Sandwich Range, the Chocorua, Tripyramid, and Passaconoway, the 3.1-mile hike at the well-marked Boulder Loop Trail makes it one of the best easy hikes in the White Mountains. You might encounter some inclines, but nothing that requires any significant skill. The start of your journey will need you to cross the legendary Albany Covered Bridge, still standing since its construction in 1958.
For around 3.4 miles of roundtrip through the Mount Pemigewasset trail near the Flume Gorge parking lot, the scenic vistas at the summit of this mountain will take your breath away. The journey is pretty easy, with some bridges and rocky inclines requiring very minimal effort.
The name Mount Pemigewasset was from the Native Indian chief who used the area as his lookout place, and because the shape of the ledge at the summit does resemble a profile of an Indian head, hence its nickname “Indian Head.” At the top, you can simmer in the beauty of Franconia Notch State Park and the surrounding mountains like the Tripyramids, Liberty, and Flume.
Covering roughly 5 miles out and back, the family-friendly Mount Roberts, 30 minutes away from the White Mountains National Forest, is another gem that you can miss if you want easy hikes in the White Mountains.
It would take around three hours to finish the hike, but the summit provides incredible vistas showing the majestic allure of Mount Washington and Lake Winnipesaukee. You can find parking near Castle in the Clouds, and just look for the trail sign down the road to start your journey.
Read about these beautiful destinations
Must see in the White Mountains, NH
Franconia Notch offers some of the most beautiful views in the White Mountains. Hikers can enjoy sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests. It’s home to several unique geological formations and a great place to spot wildlife. Hikers may see bears, moose, deer, and various bird species, among other animals. To see the beauty of Franconia Notch, you can take these easy hikes in the White Mountains:
- Artists Bluff
- Flume Gorge
- Basin-Cascades Trail
- Lonesome Lake
The hikes in Kinsman Notch offer stunning views of the surrounding White Mountains, including the peaks of Cannon Mountain, Mount Moosilauke, and the Kinsman Range. The area has a rich history, dating back to the early 1800s. The site was once a place of logging and mining, and remnants remain visible along the hiking trails. And since it’s accessible, it’s also a popular destination for hikers who want to experience its magic. Here are some trails you can follow:
- Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves
Depending on which trail you take, there’s a gem waiting to amaze you. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of Crawford Notch, including the Saco River winding through the valley below and the towering peaks of Mount Webster and Mount Jackson in the distance, or take in the breathtaking, sweeping vistas of the Presidential Range to the east and the valleys and peaks of the Franconia Range to the west. The views from the Crawford Notch hikes are one of the area’s main attractions and are a must-see for anyone visiting the White Mountains. Follow these trails to see them for yourself:
- Mount Willard
- Elephant Head Trail
- Arethusa Falls
A popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts due to its numerous hiking trails and stunning scenery. From the summit of many of the peaks in the area, you can see panoramic views of the White Mountains, with their jagged peaks, deep valleys, and dense forests. The views are even more magnificent in the fall when the leaves turn brilliant red, orange, and gold. Take these easy hikes in the White Mountains to witness the beauty of Pinkham Notch:
- Glen Ellis Falls
- Pine Mountain Loop
The Kancamagus Highway, or NH Route 112, runs through the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. It is known for its stunning fall foliage and offers many opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities. You can enjoy the views of the waterfalls and the clear pool below, surrounded by vibrant fall foliage colors. It offers views of the tranquil Pemigewasset River and the surrounding forests and mountains. Take these trails to see the allure hiding along Kancamagus Highway:
- Lincoln Woods
- Discovery Trail
- Sabbaday Falls
- Rail ‘n River Trail
North Conway Hikes
The trails in North Conway offer stunning views of the White Mountains and the surrounding landscape, which includes rolling hills, valleys, and rivers. Hikers can enjoy breathtaking vistas of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, and other peaks like Mount Chocorua, Mount Kearsarge North, and Mount Cranmore. It also offers a range of outdoor recreation opportunities, such as skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, and mountain biking. It is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience different activities in a beautiful natural setting. Check out these trails to experience these wonders:
- Black Cap Path
- Diana’s Baths
- Mount Kearsarge
- Echo Lake Trail
Easy hikes in the White Mountains are an incredible way to connect with nature and create lasting memories. You can walk through beautiful forests or take more challenging hikes to breathtaking summits.
With proper planning, preparation, and safety precautions, your family can experience the magic of the White Mountains while staying safe and comfortable. We hope we inspired you and your family to head for a unique experience at the White Mountains. We wish that you experience the same magic that our family did!
So, start planning your family hiking adventure today and get ready to explore the wonders of this stunning region.
The White Mountains are waiting for you!
Traveling with Family?
Read our Family Travel Tips
Here are some of the most accessible hikes in the White Mountains that even kids can complete without trouble:
GLEN ELLIS FALLS
RAIL ‘N RIVER TRAIL
You can also click here to learn more about Easy Hikes in the White Mountains.
The White Mountains are in New Hampshire, in the northeastern region of the United States. The White Mountain National Forest covers a large area of the White Mountains, including several peaks over 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) and numerous hiking trails, lakes, and rivers. The region is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and fishing.
Learn more about the White Mountains here.