Best Hikes with Dogs New Hampshire and Vermont  by Lisa Densmore

Best Hikes with Dogs: New Hampshire & Vermont Guide Book

by Lisa Densmore (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Dogs New Hampshire and Vermont  by Lisa Densmore
Lisa Densmore hiked more than 300 miles in New Hampshire and Vermont mostly with her faithful trail companion Bravo, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, but also with other dogs, while researching this book. Here she shares her favorite trails of easy day hikes to overnight backpacking trips, presented through canine-centric eyes. These hikes will delight both you and your pet with panoramic views, long ridge walks, lush forests, and pristine lakes. Advice is given on topics such as proper canine trail etiquette, wildlife encounters, and weather concerns. Additional features include what to pack for your pooch, including the Ten Canine Essentials, a doggy first aid kit, and a Trail Finder chart that lists hikes by length, terrain, difficulty for dogs, and more.

© 2005 Lisa Densmore/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Dogs: New Hampshire & Vermont" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 52.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 52.

The Abbey Pond Trail (blue blazes) enters the woods on a gravel path. At first it climbs gently, with dense hardwood forest to either side but open sky above. At about 0.1 mile a boulder on the left appears sliced into sections. More large boulders dot the woods, then the trail crosses an old stone wall. The path becomes somewhat steeper, and the gravel gives way to loose rocks. The trail bends to the left, then at 0.2 mile crosses a scenic brook on a solid footbridge. Cascades tumble down a small gorge on the right, then flow over smooth ledges to the left. If the water levels are low, there are a couple of shallow pools here that your dog will enjoy.
East Middlebury, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
Don’t let the name fool you. There are at least five Bald Mountains in Vermont, none of which have bald summits, but their tops were once clear as a result of forest fires. Subsequent erosion left the peaks bald for many years, but gradually the hardiest plants returned, followed by trees again. Bald Mountain in Westmore is not only the tallest Bald Mountain in Vermont, it is also the tallest peak in the Lake Willoughby area. Its fire tower is a great destination for hikers. Dogs will enjoy the exercise it takes to get there and the chance to explore the summit clearing and rustic shelter, where there are many interesting things to sniff.
Westmore, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
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Black Mountain is a rocky pyramid at the end of a long ridge called The Hogsback. It is little known outside of the Upper Connecticut River Valley, perhaps because it is not a high peak, but it is a favorite among locals. Expect to see a number of people with dogs on the trail, particularly on weekends.
Haverhill, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.5
Bridal Veil Falls is a scenic cascade on the northwestern side of a ridge between Cannon Mountain and The Cannon Balls. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Hampshire. Coppermine Brook pours through a narrow spot in a high ledge, then widens as it plummets, resembling the shape and color of a bride’s long, lacy veil. The approach to the falls is a pretty hike. It follows Coppermine Brook most of the way, which has numerous pools that will delight your dog.
Franconia, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 5
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Burnt Rock Mountain is an impressive rocky dome, located along the Long Trail just north of Huntington Gap. Its summit was cleared of trees in a forest fire about a century ago. Today, a few scrub spruce and fir dot the multiple ledges and humps of rock, having little impact on the 360- degree view but creating a number of private perches on the rare day other hikers are on the summit with you. Burnt Rock Mountain is not at the top of many hikers’ lists outside the Mad River Valley. It should be, especially with a dog! When approached via the Hedgehog Brook Trail (blue blazes), it is a reasonable half-day outing and a shorter alternative to neighboring 4000-footers with equally spectacular views in all directions.
North Fayston, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
Camels Hump is a Vermont landmark, a bald peak with a distinct shape. In the late 1700s the mountain was dubbed “Camels Rump” by Ira Allen (Ethan Allen’s brother), which was later changed to the more socially acceptable “Camels Hump.” The Hump is sizable in looks and in effort, but well worth the challenge. It is a popular climb, so save this one for midweek, especially with a dog. The summit has a noisy reputation on weekends and holidays due to barking dogs and occasional dog fights, but midweek you may have the only pooch on the peak.
Huntington Center, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.7
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Carter Dome is presumably named for Dr. Ezra Carter, who explored the White Mountains in the 1800s looking for medicinal herbs. It is ranked ninth among the 4000-footers of the White Mountains. Mount Hight is named for Dr. Carter’s hiking companion from nearby Jefferson, New Hampshire. The Carter Dome Mount Hight Loop is less crowded and less of a boulder pile than its Presidential neighbors across Route 16, which makes it appealing for dog owners. It is a long hike, but with several rewards, including exceptional mountaintop views and a lovely mountain lake.
Gorham, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 10.2
There are at least three Haystack Mountains in Vermont with trails on them: one to the far north near Jay Peak, one near Lake Willoughby (also north), and the other to the far south by Mount Snow. The trail described here is the southernmost one. From a skier’s point of view, Haystack Mountain, a satellite ski area to giant Mount Snow, is of little consequence. But from a hiker’s point of view, Haystack offers more dog-friendly hiking, particularly since Mount Snow’s trail system is a mecca for mountain bikers. The hike up the Haystack Mountain Trail is primarily wooded and relatively gradual the entire way, making it a perfect hike for pups and older dogs.
Wilmington, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
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Jay Peak is the northernmost peak in Vermont of any prominence. It is most known as a ski resort, but hikers enjoy it for its views to Canada, only 10 miles away. Dogs will find most of the route rather easy, with one exception, where the Long Trail (LT) crosses a ski trail.
Jay, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
Kilburn Crag is a rocky outcropping on the northeastern shoulder of modest Walker Mountain. It is known mainly to Littleton locals. With easy footing and low mileage, it is a perfect hike for puppies or senior dogs and a good choice if you are just getting your hiking legs, short on time but in need of a decent view, or if you simply want some quality time in the woods with your pooch without committing to an epic outing. A guidebook cannot provide all the details of a route, nor stay completely current. Trail conditions, stream crossings, access roads, government rules, even the routes themselves change over time. Before departing on any hike, check with the organization that maintains the trail for the latest information. A phone number and website are listed at the beginning of each hike description, along with any fees, permits, or pet policies if applicable.
Littleton, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
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Killington Peak is the second highest mountain in Vermont. It is the highest of the six peaks that make up Killington Resort. Best known for skiing in the winter, the resort encourages hiking up its ski-trails and publishes a trail map for hikers, with ten self-guided interpretive hikes across five of the six peaks. However, you are more likely to have a true wilderness experience with your dog on the opposite side of the mountain via the Bucklin Trail (blue blazes), a traditional hiking trail.
Mendon, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
Located on a shoulder of Mount Sunapee, Lake Solitude and White Ledge above it are among the most peaceful hiking destinations in southern New Hampshire. White Ledge offers an arguably superior view compared to the top of the mountain, which is not above tree line, and it is definitely more of a wilderness experience. The summit is cluttered with two chairlift terminals, a sizable lodge, and several smaller buildings. During certain summer weekends, the Mount Sunapee ski resort offers chairlift rides, crowding the summit with people who have either ridden up or hiked up a ski trail. Unless you need to stand on top of the mountain, White Ledge is the preferable destination, particularly with a dog.
Newbury, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
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This hike is a peak-bagger’s dream, crossing at least four summits - Mount Abraham (elevation 4006 feet), Lincoln Peak (elevation 3972 feet), Mount Ellen (elevation 4083 feet), and General Stark Mountain (elevation 3662 feet) - Depending on how you count them. Some maps also recognize Nancy Hanks Peak on the north side of Lincoln Peak and Cutts Peak on the south side of Mount Ellen, which would give you six summits in one trip. Others consider the entire ridge to be only two peaks - Lincoln and Stark - with prominent points like Mount Abraham to be part of the other two. Regardless of how you count them, this is one of the classic ridge-walks in Vermont, and a dog’s delight, except for the last section between the top of General Stark and Appalachian Gap. For this reason, ending your hike down a ski trail at Mad River Glen is recommended if you are hiking with a smaller or less agile dog. Otherwise, the descent to Appalachian Gap is an interesting final leg of the hike, with views and some challenges, including two short ladders. The ladders are the main reason why this hike is best done from south to north with a dog. It is easier for a dog to go down the two ladder pitches than to go up them. In addition, it is nice to get an early reward, reaching the summit of Mount Abraham, then to have a long, gradual descent most of the way from there.
Warren, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.6
Moose Mountain is aptly named. The entire trail is prime moose habitat, with numerous swampy areas to the sides of the trail, although the trail itself is generally dry, soft dirt. Fresh moose tracks are virtually guaranteed, and moose sightings are common on the Moose Mountain Trail, part of the Appalachian Trail. The route is double-blazed, with both the standard white marking for the Appalachian Trail and orange blazes with a black stripe, the historical Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) marking. Although there is no leash law, your dog will definitely pick up a moose or deer scent at some point on this hike, so it is best to keep him on a leash if he has a propensity for tracking hoofed animals.
Lyme, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
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A true monadnock, a singular peak that is not part of a ridge, Mount Ascutney stands alone in southeastern Vermont. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the region. The Abenakis called the mountain “Cas-cad-nac,” which means, “mountain with the rocky summit.” The name is misleading. While there are areas of open rock around the summit, Ascutney does not have an open, bald top, but it is worth the hike for historic and scenic reasons.
Brownsville, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.4
The Mount Cabot-Unknown Pond Loop is actually three possible hikes in one. Besides the entire loop, Mount Cabot and Unknown Pond are both excellent out-and-back hikes in their own right. For peak-baggers, the former is the northernmost 4000-footer in New Hampshire. For water-lovers, the latter is a scenic remote tarn. When hiked as a loop, there are another two peaks in between The Bulge and The Horn-north of Mount Cabot along the Kilkenny Ridge. The Bulge (elevation 3920 feet) is a wooded nondescript hump, but The Horn (elevation 3905 feet) is a desirable destination and a viable alternative to Mount Cabot for those who want similar mileage, about 350 feet less vertical, and both a rocky summit and a pond in one hike, neither of which Cabot offers. Do the loop to experience it all.
Berlin, NH - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 11.4
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Mount Cardigan is one of the more popular hikes in this part of New Hampshire, so expect lots of kids, dogs, and other hikers on the trail. It is the perfect hike if you do not have a lot of time but want a big view, particularly if you and your dog are not frequent hikers. The view from the parking lot may tempt you to eat your picnic right there, but it is worth the walk up. With an expansive bald top, a fire tower, and a 360-degree view, it is hard to find a hike with a better reward for such a modest effort. There are several ways to reach the summit, but the West Ridge Trail (orange blazes) is both dog-friendly and interesting. This well-maintained route begins with lots of stone-work and intermittent log and rock steps. The rocks are loaded with mica, which makes them sparkle in the sunlight.
Orange , NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
Although it is not a 4000-footer,Mount Chocorua is one of the most popular “big mountain” hikes in the White Mountains due to its vicinity to North Conway and the fact that its summit is a spectacular pinnacle of open granite. Expect to meet lots of other hikers and dogs, particularly on the Champney Falls Trail, described here, which is the most dog-friendly way to reach the peak. Be forewarned, the granite on the upper mountain has a reputation for tearing paw pads, so avoid this climb completely until your dog's pads are conditioned to strenuous hiking. Even if your dog is a seasoned mountain climber, it is a good idea to carry a doggie first-aid kit and a set of dog booties on this outing.
Conway, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.6
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If you are looking for a little more mileage and vertical without overdoing it, Mount Cube is the perfect choice. With under 3000 feet of elevation, Mount Cube may have less cachet than its larger neighbors, Smarts and Moosilauke, but it is still a terrific hike, especially with a dog. It offers solitude, abundant water (over a dozen stream crossings), and a great view from the top. It passes through a classic New England forest with mixed species of deciduous and coniferous trees and through several cuts in old rock walls. These rock walls, common throughout the lower woodlands in New Hampshire and Vermont, never had mortar. Dating back to the 1800s when large tracts of land were clear-cut for farming, the walls marked farm boundaries and confined livestock. Today, much of that land is now forest again. The trail passes the overgrown remnants of a stone foundation on the right, then crosses a gravel road at 0.5 mile, before becoming narrower and rooted.
Wentworth, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 6.6
Mount Elmore is the lowest peak of the Worcester Range, but one of the more prominent (and more hiked) due to its position at the northern end of the range and its fire tower on top.
Morrisville, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4
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