Travelling with kids or other members of the family can make the hiking experience more rewarding. It can also add an extra level of complexity to the trip. Here are a few of the questions we have been asked on the subject.
Where can I take my wife/husband and her/his mother on a nice nature hike that isn't too strenuous?
Try the plant/produce aisle of your local supermarket. Actually, we suggest the Black Pond hike, because it is relatively short, follows a well marked, wide trail, often has many others hiking there, and it follows the rather scenic Pemigewassett River most of the way. You can also visit Sawyer Pond(where Rob almost drowned ... but that's a story for a different day). Except for the abundance of mountain bikers and a couple of small stream crossings this is an easy hike. A slightly more demanding hike is to the Arethusa Falls (the tallest falls in NH at a whopping 100 feet). All of these hikes are off the Kancamagus Highway, which is easily accessible from NH 16 or Interstate 93.
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Do you have any recommendations for hikes in southern NH that can be done with a 5 year-old?
As far as peaks go in southern New Hampshire, there are really only two choices: Monadnock and Pawtuckaway. They are both short hikes, relatively easy, and easily accessible. The main drawback is that they are extremely crowded -- especially Monadnock. I have heard rumors this year that the overcrowding has gotten so bad that on Monadnock that they are limiting the number of people allowed to climb. I believe that our local NPR station said they were taking reservations, although I find this very difficult to believe. Both of these peaks are described in theWhite Mountain Guide, which is available online from our page. Just follow the bookslink.
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Having a five year-old along changes the requirements for a good hike a bit. Of these two peaks I believe that Pawtuckaway is better suited -- the trails are wider, flatter, and require no climbing over rocks. The very top of Monadnock requires some scrambling to reach the summit no matter which route you take. Plus the Pawtuckaway hike takes place within Pawtuckaway State Park, where there are other activities like swimming if the hike wears out either the little body or the attention span.
Remember that a good hike doesn't have to involve a climb. In fact, this may be a better plan with a child along, at least until you get an idea of their abilities and willingness. With this in mind, both Pawtuckaway and Monadnock offer miles of trails that don't require a climb. Once again, I would suggest Pawtuckaway as the better initial choice.
Additionally, there are some other areas that are often overlooked in southern New Hampshire. Try the seacoast area for example. You can take an enjoyable walk through the historic part of downtown Portsmouth, including Prescott Park and Strawberry Banke. Or, you could try Odiorne Point State Park and explore the remains of an old W.W. II fort, all on wide flat paths, and near sandy beaches. A few miles away, you can find two of my favorite areas on the shore of Great Bay: Adam's Point in Durham (off of Durham Point Road) or the National Wildlife Refuge on the former Pease Air Force Base. Adam's Point offers an ~2 mile loop trail that takes you on an interpreted journey through a 19th century homestead on the shore of Great Bay. The property is currently occupied by the Jackson Estuarine Lab. The trail takes you from a salt water coastline through open fields and hardwood forest. It makes a great short daytrip. Combine this with a loop hike of the Wildlife Refuge, and you can have a great day outside in nature without ever really being more the 15 minutes from your car in case someone gets bored.
Finally, if you are willing to do the drive, there are a few areas of the White Mountains that might be suitable. Again, theWhite Mountain Guideis the place to start. Look in the back for a listing of easy hikes. One that sounds particularly interesting is a hike on the Boulder Loop Trail, a nature trail that forms a 3.1 mile loop. A slightly more ambitious hike would be a 6 mile round trip to Big Rock Cave. Of course, you might also check out our Black Pond hike.
We would like to take our baby (10 months) hiking with us. We would like an inexpensive but good back carrier, what do you suggest?
To be honest, we're just a couple of guys without kids so we have no direct
experience with child carriers.
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However, you can consult our gear page and check out the reviews of
the North Face Renegade and Camp Trails McKinley packs -- a 10 month-old
should fit fine. I don't even think you'd have to use bungees on the
external frame! (We're kidding of course!!!)
Actually, your question prompted us to start a message board on our site --
hopefully there are other readers who have direct experience in these
matters that they would be willing to share. You can check it out -- it's a
new link in our sidebar. You can help us at the same time as we get the
message board off of the ground by posting your question.
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Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy