Five State Parks Nearby
Each of the parks below have something unique to offer those willing to explore; Waterfalls, Cascades, Glacial Lakes, Gorges, Sculpted Granite Basins and Chutes, Unprecedented Views, Mountain Notches, Extreme Weather, Expansive Wilderness and rare Flora & Fauna. Many are ideally situated on your travel route for the day to offer the perfect place to stop and have a picnic lunch. All distances are measured from Bray Hill. Many state parks are seasonal so check the links below to find out when they are open.
Weeks State Park
4.5 Stars, 14 Minutes away in Lancaster. The park is seasonal, opening in the spring and closing at the end of October. The fire tower on top offers a 360 degree views of the White Mountains, but is only open during park hours. However, the parking at the base is always open for an exhilarating walk/snowshoe up the access road to the fire tower. It gets icy in winter exercise caution! Mettle treads on your shoes or snowshoes are recommended.
Crawford Notch State Park
4.5 Stars, 31 minutes away in Hart’s Location. Crawford Notch State Park has 5,775 acres providing access to numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing, wildlife viewing, and spectacular mountain views. Beautiful from the car but even more beautiful from some of the short and rewarding hikes. The site/activities are listed starting from the top of the notch going down.
Use the Crawford Notch Station Parking. Trail starts behind the Station and is a 3.9 Mile hike there and back in the White Mountains National Forest & Crawford Notch State Park. Rating: Moderate - 1700 feet elevation gain. Features: Summit, views, gorge, brook, waterfall. I would suggest going early in the morning because the trail gets busy later in the day. Close by is the AMC Highland Center that includes a gift shop and cafeteria. More Info.
The Silver Cascade Falls & Flume Cascade
.9 Mile on the right is parking for Silver Cascade Falls. You can see the cascades from the car but there are trails alongside so you can get closer and enjoy the thrill of the rushing water.
Willy House Historic Place
Another 1.8 Miles on the right past Crawford Station is The Willey House. It is open full time only beginning on May 27 and closes October 16. Operating hours are 9:30 - 5pm.
Ripley Falls Trail
Another 1.0 Mile on the right is Wiley House Station Road and about ½ mile up the road is parking and trail access. Trail is 1.2 miles out to the Falls and Back. Rating: Easy - 520 feet elevation gain. Features: Brook and 100’ waterfall. Very enjoyable hike great for children.
Arethusa Falls Frankenstein Cliff Trail
Another 2.5 Miles on the right is Arethusa Falls Trail Head Parking. The falls is a 4.3 Mile loop. Rating: Difficult - 1646 feet elevation gain. Features: Summit, views, gorge, brook, waterfall.
“When you're on the falls side of the trail be sure to take the (0.5mi) Bemis Brook Trail and check out the two smaller falls as well as a small pool perfect for cooling off your dog pals.”
“Pretty crowded at the falls on the weekend. Not the easiest of hikes to do the loop but well worth the effort. Less experienced hikers might consider doing an "out/back" to the falls instead of the loop.”
Franconia Notch State Park
5.0 Stars, 37 minutes in Franconia. This highly rated destination for the sheer spectacularly beautiful setting includes many family activities in one local. Note: Pets are only permitted in Franconia Notch State Park in the designated dog walks in the Flume & Tramway parking lots. Pets are prohibited from Echo Lake Beach, Lafayette Campground, on the Tram and in the Flume Gorge.
Bald Mountain and Artists Bluff, Lonesome Lake Trail, Basin Cascade Trail See 10 Of The Best: Family Hikes.
Echo Lake Beach & Boats
4.5 Stars, 37 minutes. Part of the Franconia Notch State Park, Echo Lake is at the top of the notch set Between Cannon mountain and Lafayette mountain. The dramatic beautiful setting, cold mountain water, and canoe & boat rentals make the beach a popular summer destination for families to beat the heat. Pack a picnic lunch, bring a blanket, swim, paddle, and relax. Hiking Bald Mountain and Artists Bluff is also accessed from Parking Lot.
n/a Stars, 40 minutes. Part of the Franconia Notch State Park, The Bike Trail runs the length of the park from top to bottom and is a great way to explore the park with your family. Bicycles can be rented at the top of the park in the Aerial Tramway Base of exit 33. The ride is all down hill so test those brakes! On the way, there are lakes, rivers, waterfalls, short hikes, plenty of history and amazing scenery to keep you totally engrossed in the park and ride. Shuttle pickup is at the Flume Parking where there is a cafeteria and welcome center and of course The Flume itself.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
4.5 Stars, 40 minutes. Spectacular trip for all ages and the quickest way to get to the top of a 4000 footer. The observation deck offers 360° views into four states and Canada. The 80 person capacity trams are open from Early June to the Middle of October open 9:30 am - 5:30 pm for sight seeing and in the winter it carries skiers.
Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza
42 minutes, same exit as the aerial tramway. Visit the history museum and see the virtual old man on the mountain at the viewing area. The original old man of the mountain collapsed on June 3rd, 2003. Watch for birds the notch is home to many species including hawks, owls, herons and much more.
4.5 Stars, 42 minutes. The basin is a whirl pool carved into the granite bedrock by rushing waters of the Pemigewasset River over millennia. The area has wading pools and is a great place to stop for a picnic on the cool rocks in the shade. Hiking the Basin Cascade Trail is also accessed from Parking Lot.
4.5 Stars, 45 minutes. The Flume is an 800-foot geologic formation that features 90-foot granite cliffs separated by 20 feet with the river flowing through. Guests can choose to do just the gorge or trek the 2-mile trail that highlights the forests vegetation and rock formations of the area.
Dixville Notch State Park
4.5 Stars, 78 minute drive in Colebrook. Make a short steep climb to Table Top Rock. If you are brave you can walk or crawl out to the edge of the rock to take in the view of the valley below.
Mount Washington State Park
4.5 Stars, 90 minute drive in Sargent's Purchase. This state park is the peak of Mountain Washington and you can reach this site by hiking, taking the cog, driving up the auto road in summer and taking the snow coach in winter. Includes the visitors center and summit gift shop. They say you can see the Atlantic Ocean on a clear day however the sea of mountain tops is more impressive! A great place to have lunch and experience extreme weather all year round!
Jericho Mountain State Park
4.5 Stars, 50 minute drive in Berlin. Off the beaten path Jericho is unique in that it offers boat rentals and ATV trails. There are picnic tables and picnic pavilions available.
*Star ratings from TripAdvisor