The Current:

The Best Hiking and Biking Trails for Every Level in the Lakes Region

September 16, 2022

Fall in the Lakes Region is one of the most idyllic times of the year. The abundance of seasonal changes entices children and adults to spend more time in nature embracing the cooler temperatures, vibrant foliage, and autumnal flavors.

Exploring the outdoors is one simple way to honor this season of change, whether that’s through hiking, biking, or wandering through a corn maze. Here are a few of our favorite easy, moderate, and difficult trails to enjoy in the upcoming months. Pack your camera; there will be plenty of photo ops.

aerial of corn maze
Corn Maze at Moulton Farm

Kick off the season with a festive farm trail or interactive corn maze. You’ll get a chance to breathe in the crisp, fresh air, and your little ones will get to be a part of the experience too! Not to mention, you can indulge in sweet autumnal treats afterward. Think: sweet caramel apples, cinnamon-cider donuts, and authentic, freshly made apple cider. Moulton Farm in Meredith is hosting its 20th annual corn maze from Sept. 22nd through Oct. 23rd, operating from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. After you explore the corn maze, take a peek at their on-site market stocked with local produce, baked goods, and artisanal treats.

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lake with mountains in background
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

has a handful of trails on the property that take between 30 minutes to an hour to complete, leading visitors through a variety of terrains including fields, forests, and wetlands. Choose the easiest of the three, Ecotone Trail, which runs for ⅓-mile between the field and forest and serves as a habitat for many native species. The Mt. Fayal Trail is the most challenging of the bunch, at just a mile long, with an elevation of 1,067 feet, hikers will pass by the ruins of the old Piper Homestead and be treated to beautiful views of Squam Lake. Admission tickets are required for access to the trails.

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people on wooden bridge in middle of woods
Lost River

Take a trip to the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, located in Kinsman Notch, for a scenic self-guided walk on the mile-long boardwalk trail that goes through the gorge and travels along the Lost River. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear during your journey; you’ll encounter over 1,000 stairs, and natural and manmade obstacles over the course of your trek. Check out the 11 glacial boulder caves along the boardwalk before making your way to the Forest Adventure Trail. Visitors can explore treehouses, a suspension bridge, and their Giant Birds Nest, an elevated lookout platform designed to look just like a real bird’s nest, with expansive forest views.

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dirt trail alongside lake
Northern Rail Trail

Don’t be intimidated by the nearly 60 miles mapped out for this extensive rail trail. As one of the most family-friendly trails in the Lakes Region, start in Lebanon by the Witherell Recreation Center, where you’ll encounter strollers, children, and training wheels for the first couple of miles. If you’re seeking a longer walk, run, or scenic bike bike ride, continue for as long as you’d like, there’s plenty of ground to cover!

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scenic view with mountains and lake in background
Big Ball Mountain

This 3.8-mile-long out-and-back trail takes about 2.5 hours to complete from start to finish and reaches an elevation of over 2,000 feet. The well-marked, steep trek is worth it thanks to spectacular 180-degree views visible on the trail, especially once you reach the summit. Dogs and children are welcome!

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scenic view with mountains in background
Mount Roberts Trail

At just over 1,300 feet at its peak, plan to see other hikers and runners along this 5.2-mile out-and-back trail. Mount Roberts is nestled in the Castle in the Clouds complex in the Ossipee Mountains and features incredible views of Lake Winnipesaukee from above. Set aside about three hours to complete the trail and treat yourself to a light lunch or ice cream after at Cafe in the Clouds.

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scenic view on top of mountain
Belknap Gunstock Loop Trail

For the more adventurous hikers, the 4.2-mile-long Belknap Gunstock Loop trail is open year-round and takes under three hours to complete. It’s a well-marked trail that loops around Gunstock Mountain and has plenty of native New England plants scattered throughout. Lady Slipper Orchids bloom in spring and summer, but the star of the show in fall are the bold, warm-toned leaves above.

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person hiking in distance on trail in the woods
Sandwich Mountain via Bennet Street Trail

Set aside a day to conquer this 8.3-mile-long out-and-back trail that rewards hikers with stunning lake and mountain range views at the top. It will take at most under six hours to finish, but once you reach the summit, you may want to take a break before heading back down.

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