Menu Close

Complete Guide to Hiking Southern NH (the 10 Best Hikes)

We love hiking in New Hampshire and while the White Mountains get most of the attention, southern NH offers many excellent hikes. We live in the southern part of the state and have put together this guide to hiking southern NH to help you find the best hikes in this part of the state.

In this post we’ll share some of the best hikes in Southern NH as well as some of the most popular state parks or regions for hiking. At the end of this article, you can also find general information about hiking in NH including the best time of year to hike, and what to pack for your next Southern NH hike.

This post does not include hiking in the White Mountains (although there are a few hikes in the regio just south of the as we consider this central New Hampshire. We hiked and written extensively about the hikes in this part of NH. You can see some of our top recommendation in these articles:

The Best Hikes in Southern NH


  • Distance: Approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet (548 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Monadnock, often referred to as the “most hiked mountain in the world,” offers breathtaking views from its 3,165-foot summit. The well-marked White Cross and White Dot Trails provide a variety of routes to the top. While it’s a relatively short hike, the steep and rocky terrain can be challenging, making it a favorite for both novices and experienced hikers.

Pack Monadnock (and North Pack Monadnock)

  • Distance: Approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet (305 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Pack Monadnock loop includes both Pack Monadnock and its neighboring peak, North Pack Monadnock. The Wapack Trail offers a scenic hike with several overlooks, including the fire tower on Pack Monadnock, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Hiking Southern NH: North Pack Monadnock

Blue Job

  • Distance: Approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 630 feet (192 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy

Blue Job is an ideal hike for those looking for a shorter and easier option. The trail takes you through a forested area to a scenic summit with excellent views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a perfect choice for families and beginners.

It’s alson one of the closest mountains to the Seacoast of NH so a good choice if you’re in this area.

Pawtuckaway – South Mountain Lookout Tower Trail

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 825 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Pawtuckaway State Park offers a range of hiking trails to explore, with some providing glimpses of beautiful lakes and bouldering opportunities. The Boulder Trail, North Mountain Trail, and South Ridge Trail are popular choices. The varying terrain caters to hikers of different skill levels.

Hiking Southern NH – Pawtuckaway

Mount Major

  • Distance: Approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet (351 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Major is a classic hike with rewarding views of Lake Winnipesaukee. The trail leads through a beautiful forest and features several outlooks along the way. It’s a favorite for those seeking a relatively short but satisfying adventure.

Hiking Southern NH - Mount Major
Hiking Southern NH – Mount Major

Percival and Morgan

  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet (351 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Percival and Morgan loop offers a diverse hiking experience with caves, ladders, and fantastic viewpoints. It’s a unique and enjoyable journey through rocky terrain and dense forests. This hike is just south of the White Mountains but is one of our favorite hikes in New Hampshire.

Hiking Southern NH: Finley and Hadley on the ladders on Percival and Morgan

Mount Sunapee

  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet (548 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Sunapee offers a rewarding hike through a mix of forests and open rock ledges. Once at the summit, hikers are treated to expansive views of the Sunapee region and beyond.

Mount Cardigan

  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet (457 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Cardigan is known for its exposed summit and striking stone fire tower. The West Ridge Trail provides a challenging but memorable ascent, with incredible vistas of the White Mountains and surrounding lakes. This is another hike that is relatively far north but still considered Southern NH.

Hiking Southern NH: Finley hiking Mount Cardigan

Mount Kearsarge

  • Distance: Approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet (335 meters)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Mount Kearsarge is a short but rewarding hike with fantastic views from the summit. The Barlow Trail is a popular choice, leading to an open summit with stunning vistas of the Sunapee region.

Pisgah State Park Ridge Loop

  • Distance: Approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) loop
  • Elevation Gain: Varies
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Pisgah State Park Ridge Loop takes you on a scenic journey through diverse terrain, including forests and open ridges. It’s a longer hike but well worth the effort for the peaceful surroundings and the stunning views of southwestern New Hampshire.

These hikes in southern New Hampshire offer a wide range of experiences, from short and easy family outings to more challenging and rewarding adventures for experienced hikers. Whether you’re looking for stunning vistas or a leisurely stroll in nature, there’s a trail here for everyone.

Map of the Best Hiking Trails in Southern NH

Southern New Hampshire’s Hiking Destinations

While the hiking routes described above are some of the best in Southern NH, you can find countless trails throughouot the region. Many trails offer view, lakside strolls and other interesting landmarks. Below is an overview of some of the best areas for hiking Southern NH.

Mount Monadnock Region: Home to the most hiked mountain in the U.S., Mount Monadnock offers diverse trails for hikers of all levels, granting panoramic views of the landscape from its summit.

The Belnap Region: While Mount Major is the most famous mountain in this range on the west of Winnepesauke , but there are several other excellent trails that offer views of the Lakes.

The Ossipee Region: Just north on Winnepesauke, these are the foothills of the White mountains and offer some of the best views on Southern NH.

Pawtuckaway State Park: A network of trails leads to South Mountain’s summit, offering stunning views of Pawtuckaway Lake, and features the unique Boulder Field for bouldering enthusiasts.

Mount Cardigan State Forest: A popular destination known for its exposed granite summit and breathtaking views, accessible via various trails, including West Ridge and Holt-Clark Cutoff.

Wapack Trail: Stretching from Massachusetts into New Hampshire, the Wapack Trail provides scenic viewpoints, making it an excellent choice for multi-day adventures.

Miller State Park: Home to Pack Monadnock, this park offers various trails of differing difficulties and is famous for its beautiful wildflower displays in spring and early summer.

Rhododendron State Park: Ideal for leisurely nature walks, this park is renowned for its mid-July rhododendron blooms, with the Rhododendron Loop Trail providing a short and pleasant hike.

Greenfield State Park: Offering a tranquil setting and an accessible trail network, this park provides a range of activities, including hiking around Otter Lake.

Seacoast NH: The seacoast of New Hampshire has the lowest elevation in the start but there are several shorter hikes and hidden gems including Blue Job in this part of the state.

These are just a few of the many hiking areas in Southern New Hampshire. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you’ll find a trail to suit your interests and skill level in this region, which is known for its diverse landscapes and natural beauty.

5 Tips for Hiking Southern NH

Here are a few tips for hiking Southern NH.

  1. Arrive at the trailhead early: Hiking trails in Southern New Hampshire, especially on weekends, can get quite crowded. To secure a parking spot and enjoy a more serene hike, it’s advisable to arrive at the trailhead as early as possible. This is especially important for popular hikes like Monadnock and Mount Major.
  2. Ensure you have the right gear: Despite not leading to the state’s highest peaks (like the ones you will find in the White Mountains) the trails in this region can be challenging. Even the seemingly easier paths are rugged. Be well-prepared by packing suitable gear, sufficient food, and water to stay comfortable throughout your hike – scroll down for a complete list of what we bring when hiking in Southern NH.
  3. Consider making reservations: Some popular hikes in Southern New Hampshire, like Mount Monadnock, require reservations. It’s strongly recommended to book your spot in advance to avoid the risk of being turned away due to capacity limitations.
  4. Practice Leave No Trace principles: As always, protect the environment by packing out everything you bring with you and leaving no trace of your visit. Most trailheads offer convenient trash bins for your disposal needs. This includes cleaning up after your pets.
  5. Check trail conditions and weather forecasts: Before heading out on your hike, it’s crucial to check trail conditions and the latest weather forecasts. Southern New Hampshire’s weather can be unpredictable, and trail conditions may change due to recent rainfall or other factors. Knowing what to expect will help you plan your hike safely and be prepared for any challenges you might encounter on the trail.

How to Choose the Best Trail for Hiking in Southern NH

Best Time of year to Hike in NH

Many of the trails for hiking Southern NH are excellent choices for hiking all year long. While most people enjoy these trails during the late spring, summer, and fall. Winter also makes an excellent time of the year to hike. Late winter/early spring is often buggy and muddy – but you can often read recent reviews from hikers on All Trails.

What's Your Next Adventure?


  1. howtallis

    Somebody essentially help to make significantly articles Id state This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now I surprised with the research you made to make this actual post incredible Fantastic job

  2. flooring

    Wonderful beat I wish to apprentice while you amend your web site how could i subscribe for a blog web site The account aided me a acceptable deal I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  3. doorhandless

    Somebody essentially lend a hand to make significantly articles Id state That is the very first time I frequented your website page and up to now I surprised with the research you made to make this actual submit amazing Wonderful task

Comments are closed.

Get Inspired for your Next Adventure

Our weekly newsletter is full of hidden gems, destination ideas, first hand experience and travel deals.

For a limited time, get your FREE ebook: 100 Adventures of a Lifetime when you join our newsletter

This will close in 0 seconds