Best Hikes with Kids Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine  by Cynthia Copeland, Thomas J. Lewis, & Emily Kerr

Best Hikes with Kids: Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine Guide Book

by Cynthia Copeland, Thomas J. Lewis, & Emily Kerr (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Kids Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine  by Cynthia Copeland, Thomas J. Lewis, & Emily Kerr
Stop at a working farm in Vermont, hike to a 30-foot waterfall in New Hampshire, and walk along the rocky coast of Maine to visit a lighthouse. These are just a few of the highlights families (and anyone looking for an easy hike) will find in Best Hikes with Kids: Vermont, New Hampshire, & Maine. Includes: 85 hikes selected for kid appeal, accessible from urban areas; hikes ranging from less than 1 mile to nearly 6 miles round-trip, with optional turn-around points; trails rated for difficulty for children; handy sidebars with info on plants, animals, geology, and fun activities on the hike; and a graphic, two-color layout which provides key data at a glance.

© 2007 Cynthia Copeland, Thomas J Lewis, and Emily Kerr/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Kids: Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 85.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 85.

Take it to a vote: Who wants to visit the state’s highest waterfall? Now, who wants to climb to the top of some 600-foot cliffs? Guess what? On this hike, everyone wins! The trip to Frankenstein Cliff by way of Bemis Brook and Arethusa Falls will satisfy water lovers as well as view lovers. The 2.4-mile round-trip hike to the spectacular falls, however, may be enough for adults hiking with preschoolers. The continuation of the loop hike to Frankenstein Cliff (named for a local artist, not the fellow with bolts in his neck) is demanding, and the cliffs are not appropriate for unchaperoned exploring. So, alter the route to suit your needs.
Fabyan, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.7
Artist Bluff is not just another pretty face. Although it soars magnificently over NH-18 and I-93 and is dotted on most nice days with dozens of rock climbers, it does more than catch your eye from the highway. It offers you a chance to take in terrific views for very little effort and to escape the tourists that congregate at Profile Lake, The Flume, and The Basin. The trip to Artist Bluff via Bald Mountain will take less than 2 hours, making it a great hike to combine with other local activities.
Bethlehem, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
On the hike to Bald Rock Mountain, the end more than justifies the means. Although the initial mile or so along the gravel road may become monotonous for the little guys, the foot trail engages hikers on its final 0.5-mile climb to the summit with splendid views and— TA-DAH!—a rustic shelter for overnight camping. Because the climb to the mountaintop is not too arduous, this makes a perfect first campout for younger kids. Follow the rugged Multi-Use Trail through mixed woods. It may take some effort to maintain the kids’ enthusiasm along this lengthy and rather uneventful stretch of road.
Lincolnville, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4
The hike to Bar Island, a satisfying short hike in a less crowded area of Acadia, will bring out the adventurous spirit in every member of the family. Hikers cross over to the island along a sandbar at low tide, head to the eastern tip of the island for an oceanside picnic, and return before the rising water has covered the sandbar (at high tide, to a depth of 6 to 8 feet!). Put an older child (with adult supervision) in charge of keeping track of the time and tide schedule. If you would like more time to explore, plan a private, extended stay on Bar Island between twice-daily low tides.
Bar Harbor, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
Starting with the vision of land stewards Hollis P. Nichols and Jeffrey P. Smith and a meager 18 acres, Beaver Brook now encompasses over 2000 acres of woodlands and wetlands for the public to enjoy. With approximately thirty-five miles of trails, hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, and equestrians have many recreational opportunities. (Some trails are multi-use, and some are designated for hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing only.) The Beaver Brook Association—a private, nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to environmental education and land stewardship—also offers many programs for children and adults to support their mission. This is a great place for kids, as many of the trails pass by ponds and alongside brooks over fairly easy terrain. The interconnecting trails provide many opportunities for choosing different routes and taking shortcuts when energy wanes.
Pepperell, MA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
Two and a half million people visit Acadia National Park each year, making it one of the country’s most popular national parks. Its 47,000 acres and 120 miles of trails encompass rocky peaks and shorelines, lush bogs, and lakes buried within deep valleys. The park occupies about half of Mount Desert Island and also includes the Schoodic Peninsula, Isle au Haut, and some small, nearby islands. The visitor center should be your first stop. There you can watch an introductory film, examine a large relief map of the area, and browse through maps and other publications pertaining to Acadia.
Acadia National Park, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.1
You’ll have no trouble keeping kids motivated along this hiking route. Three major “kid” features—two water slides and a mountain summit— will keep them racing along the trail to find out what’s next. At the Upper and Lower Bickford Slides, water streams down smooth rocks, collecting in pools that kids will find irresistible in warm weather. At the Blueberry Mountain summit, kids can munch on berries while the adults gaze at the view and try to name the distant peaks. A list of recommended items for the trip includes bathing suits or extra pairs of shoes for wading, long pants for protection through scratchy brush, containers for picking blueberries in season, bug repellent, and a camera to capture the picturesque water slides.
Gorham, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.2
The hike to Blue Job’s fire tower is a popular one with local families. An easy, appealing climb leads to an open summit with views that stretch to Boston, the Atlantic, and the White Mountains. What more can you ask of a mountain? Because the views make the hike, save Blue Job for a cloudless, sunny day. From the northeastern side of the parking lot, head southeast (right) on a wide, well-worn path, following the orange blazes. At first glance, the world of field and forest seems limited to greens and browns. But ask the kids to look for reds, yellows, pinks, and blues, and you’ll all be surprised at how colorful nature is.
Strafford, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
As you hike the Boulder Loop, you’ll feel as if you have your very own naturalist along. Equipped with a White Mountain National Forest interpretive leaflet (available at the trailhead or at the White Mountain National Forest Information Centers) that is keyed to numbered stops along the route, you will gain a better understanding of such common trail-side phenomena as lichens, felled trees, and fallen boulders. Looking for the various stations will keep kids moving and will mark their progress in a way they can understand. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a tame nature walk, though. Halfway through the loop, you’ll climb onto a set of sheer cliffs with tremendous views over the Passaconaway Valley. Call it a nature walk with punch.
Conway, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
Bridal Veil Falls, one of the more captivating waterfalls in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF), tumbles down Coppermine Brook in the ravine between Cannon Mountain and the Cannon Balls. The Coppermine Trail leads gradually uphill for 2.4 miles to the falls. With the brook as a delightful companion, the miles will pass quickly for kids. On a steamy summer day, youngsters will be attracted to the frequent wading pools like pigs to mud puddles. Plan to spend the night in the WMNF Coppermine Shelter near the falls.
Bethlehem, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
You’ve heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but did you know that the same thing applies to mountains? Indeed, the steep slopes of conical Burke Mountain seem to indicate a formidable trail to the summit. In reality, the grades are surprisingly easy and the walk is a pleasant one. You may even feel a little guilty enjoying such spectacular views from the lookout tower because you didn’t have to work very hard to get there.
West Burke, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
Burnt Meadow Mountain, close to the New Hampshire border, comprises three similar summits. The well-marked (though somewhat overgrown) route described here scales the eastern spur of North Peak and offers grand views beginning just 0.15 mile from the start. The broad, grassy summit gives kids room to run and adults room to spread out a feast with the White Mountains as a backdrop. The climb is somewhat steep—count on carrying preschoolers part of the way.
Brownfield, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
No monotonous woods-walking for the kids on this hike! Dramatic views over Bar Harbor will demand everyone’s attention as you follow the North Ridge Trail on its gradual climb up Cadillac’s nearly barren northern side. At the summit, the splendid 360-degree view of the island is a real-life version of the view you had at the visitor center when you examined the expansive relief map. Because an auto road also travels to the top, the summit is geared to tourists (in season), with a gift shop and restrooms. Take on Mount Desert’s highest peak after lunch, with the sun over your shoulder, to maximize the view across Bar Harbor to the Atlantic. Or visit as the sun rises: Cadillac Mountain is said to be the first place on the eastern seaboard to greet the morning sun between October 6 and March 7.
Acadia National Park, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
Pick a sunny, spring day to visit Chesterfield Gorge—you’ll want to witness the runoff swelling this narrow ravine. The gorge is a terrific place to evaluate inexperienced hikers—the route is short, easy, and consistently appealing. If kids lose interest or wear out here, it may be a sign that they’re not quite ready for family hiking. If they prance around the gorge and beg for more, turn the page!
Keene, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Because of the variety of habitats on this hike, wildlife is plentiful. This relatively flat trail encircles a pond through forest and edge habitat. You and your children can have fun looking for plants and berries and figuring out what kinds of animals make their home here. If you can, pick up a guide ahead of time from the rangers to help with identification. You can make games out of trying to search for different flora and fauna along the way.
Millinocket, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
When you stand amid the boulders that line the floor of the dark, narrow Devil’s Gulch, it’s not hard to imagine time turning back a century or even ten centuries. This murky gorge, untouched by modern times, is almost primeval and is sure to be the setting of ghost stories invented on the ride home. But the gulch isn’t the only thing for kids to look forward to: Views from Ritterbush Lookout, dozens of stream crossings over stepping stones and log bridges, kid-sized waterfalls and cascades, and the Green Mountain Club’s (GMC) Spruce Ledge Camp will keep them excited from start to finish. Unlike most hiking routes, you will descend on the hike in and ascend on the return trip.
Lowell, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
The hike to Dome Rock is no walk in the park. It is, in fact, one of the more strenuous hikes in the book, with many steep sections. This is best undertaken by experienced hikers and kids up for a challenge. Still reading? Good. This is also a memorable hike, and kids who complete it will be proud and glad that they did. The rewards are numerous, and they will get to practice many of their hiking skills on the route. Each trail junction provides a different point of interest. From babbling brooks, to summit views and waterfalls, there is much to keep kids enthused, despite the level of difficulty.
Gorham, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Even though Wheeler Mountain (2371 feet) is one of the lower peaks in the Lake Willoughby area, its Eagle Cliff provides magnificent, long-range views. I know, vistas keep the old folks happy, but what’s in it for the kids? They’ll delight in the frequent scrambles up rocky outcroppings and alongside massive ledges. And as the trail runs over lengthy, open baldface, even youngsters will appreciate the far-reaching panoramas. You won’t have to worry about initial motivation—the view of Wheeler that they’ll have from your vehicle will be inspiration enough.
West Burke, VT - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
Although this Audubon Sanctuary is relatively small at a mere 30 acres, the views it offers are big and sweeping. The trail passes by rocky cliffs and pebble beaches as it wraps around the tip of East Point at the very tip of Biddeford Pool. Along the way you will be serenaded by the sounds of waves crashing and birds calling. The wide path is easily navigated by young children who are sure to be awed by the sights and sounds along the way. And what would a hike along Maine’s coast be without a lighthouse? On the northern side of the trail, you will have unobstructed views of Wood Island Lighthouse, which has a fascinating history and is even said to be haunted.
Saco, ME - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Even though you’ll travel along the same trail both up and down this mountain, you’ll be amazed at how different the route seems. On the way up, the steep grade focuses attention on your goal, the summit; on the way down, you’ll be more concerned with your footing, leading to a greater awareness of your immediate surroundings. With a lot of streams to cross on stepping stones and a number of challenging climbs, kids will be too busy to bicker or grumble. This is a demanding hike, best suited for older children with previous hiking experience.
Gorham, NH - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2