For the many people today who call the greater Lake Winnipesaukee area home, some of the biggest perks of living in this region aren’t just the waterfront activities. While water sports and calming lakefront properties lure many to this beautiful region of New Hampshire, there is just as much to do on the ground as there is on the water.
Throughout the region, there are countless hiking trails that can help area residents explore some of the stunning mountains and forest regions surrounding the lake. Well-maintained trails throughout the area also lead to some of the highest points in Lake Winnipesaukee, providing truly breathtaking views of the entire region. While those eager to explore these trails will need to be on the lookout for potentially dangerous wildlife, most explorers will find that there are plenty of opportunities for all levels of hikers, including novice hikers.
Here are some of the best areas to hike and explore the greater Lake Winnipesaukee region and take in all this beautiful area of New Hampshire has to offer.
Belknap Mountain – Gilford, NH
Belknap Mountain has a great trail that is perfect for those who are looking for great mountain views. This trail is only a little over a mile long, but it requires more than 740 feet of climbing. At the end of the trail lies one of the best views in the whole region, where adventurers can stand on top of the trails’ 2400 feet peak. Part of the Belknap Range, Belknap Mountain is just one of the 15 mountains in this range.
Mt. Major – Alton, NH
When it comes to hiking in the Lake Winnipesaukee area, there is no more popular destination than Mt. Major. This trail is about three miles in length and while it includes some steeper areas near the end of the trail, it is a relatively easy venture for hikers of all levels and was named one of the top 5 kid friendly hikes in NH. When on top of the mountain, which peaks around 1,100 feet, hikers can enjoy a wide, flat summit and breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.
For those who aren’t quite ready for all of Mt. Major and just want to relax, take in a picnic and enjoy the scenery of the area, there is Lockes Hill. This is an easy trail for beginners and is popular among younger hikers as well.
Red Hill – Center, Harbor
While the name Red Hill may make this hiking trail seem easy, this hill is anything but. With a summit that is higher than many mountains, there is no denying this hill can be a bit of a trek for hikers. While the peak is over 2,000 feet high, hikers only need to climb around 1,300 in order to get to the flat-topped peak where stunning views await.
Lake Regions Nature Walks
Not every hiker is ready for a big challenge when they head out on the trails. For those seeking to grab some fresh air while enjoying a great opportunity to take in the beauty of the area, there is no better option than the Lake Regions Nature Walks. There are more than 135 properties that fall under the Lakes Regions umbrella, which are owned by the Lake Regions Conservation Trust. Together there are more than 24,000 acres of land open to the public, including trails along the mountains and some of the area mountains. Since the trails are maintained by the trust, which was established to maintain the wildlife area, these hiking areas are meticulously maintained and offer a great opportunity to take in the best that nature has to offer.
Some of the most popular trails in the trust’s property include those on Stonedam Island, which include flat trails with water views, the Sewall Woods Conservation Area which is great for seeing active wildlife and the Knights Pond Conservation Area in Alton that has an easy path circling this large body of water. For beautiful wooded views that include the surrounding mountain scape, hikers can also head to the Center Harbor Woods Trail in Moultonborough and enjoy one of the many hiking options in the area.
Gunstock Mountain – Gilford,NH
Visiting Gunstock Mountain, means gaining access to several different trails, including a new path that has a stunning overlook. These trails also intersect with the Belknap trails. With a few different paths that range in difficulty, there is plenty of options for hikers of all levels and abilities at this mountain. All visitors need to do is to stop at the mountain’s camp store to pick up a map and choose the trail that works for them.
Be Safe – Hike With Safety
For those ready to get started with their Lake Winnipesaukee hiking adventures, it is important that they abide by some general safety rules when exploring the region. Hikers should never hike under the influence of alcohol and should avoid these trails when it is dark out. It is also important to look out for poison ivy, poisonous snakes and other animals that may pose a threat to hikers as the region is known for coyotes and mountain lions. These trails can take hikers through steep, winding paths and may leave individuals hours away from food, water or shelter. With this in mind, it is always important to plan ahead with snacks, water and extra layers of clothing whenever heading out to these Lake Winnipesaukee trails. Read more safety tips from the NH Department of Fish & Game.
For more information about hiking in New Hamphire, visit the official NH tourism website.
Ready to move to the beautiful Winnipesaukee area? Call Linda Fields at (603) 253-4345 or Contact Linda by Email
*Photography by NH Photographer Robert Clifford