Hiking on dog-friendly trails is fun

Exploring Dog-Friendly Trails in the Western White Mountains

The weather will soon be perfect for setting out on our dog-friendly trails in the White Mountains – so in this month’s blog we’re sharing some of our favorites with you! 

We invite you and your furry friend to de-stress while creating some unforgettable adventures in nature. The rugged terrain and picturesque landscape of New Hampshire’s western White Mountains, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts – and their four-legged companions. 

Quality time with your pets in the great outdoors is one of the best stress relievers we know, and these Clever Critter-tested trails offer something for every fitness level and scenic mood. Don’t forget to bring a leash, water and collapsible water bowl. For rugged terrain, you may want to have booties to protect your pup’s pads too.

1. Franconia Notch State Park: Franconia Falls Trail and Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain Loop

Begin your adventure at Franconia Notch State Park, where you’ll discover two spectacular trails waiting to be explored. The Franconia Falls Trail, located near the southern end of the park, is roughly 6.8 miles long, round trip. It leads you and your four-footed companions through serene forests, picturesque landscapes and along the scenic Franconia Brook. 

The highlight of the trail is Franconia Falls, where cascading water creates a mesmerizing sight and provides an ideal spot for a refreshing dip on warm days. The trail offers a moderate level of difficulty and is typically completed in around 4-6 hours, depending on hiking speed and time spent at the falls.

Alternatively, tackle the Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain Loop, which is approximately 1.5 miles in length. This loop trail offers stunning panoramic views of Echo Lake, Cannon Mountain, and the surrounding White Mountains. It typically takes around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on hiking speed and time spent admiring the scenic vistas along the way. Despite its relatively short length, the trail provides a moderate level of difficulty due to some rocky sections and elevation gain. 

2. Zealand Trail, Ethan Pond and Thoreau Falls Trails

For those seeking a longer and more immersive journey, the Zealand Trail and the Ethan Pond and Thoreau Falls Trails offer a 9.5 mile round trip journey with a 700 foot elevation gain. This route promises an adventure like no other. These enchanting dog-friendly trails wind through dense forests and alongside tranquil streams, culminating in the majestic Thoreau Falls.

Zealand Trail: The journey begins at the Zealand Trailhead, located off Zealand Road near Twin Mountain. This portion of the hike follows the Zealand Trail, a well-maintained path that winds through lush forests and along the serene Zealand River. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a peaceful setting as you make your way toward the Appalachian Trail junction.

Ethan Pond Trail: Upon reaching the Appalachian Trail junction, you’ll continue onto the Ethan Pond Trail, which leads towards the tranquil shores of Ethan Pond. This section of the hike offers beautiful views of the surrounding peaks and provides opportunities for wildlife sightings along the trail. From the Ethan Pond Trail, you can choose to extend your journey by heading off to Thoreau Falls

This section of the hike offers a more rugged and remote experience, with the trail gradually ascending through forested terrain towards the impressive Thoreau Falls. Definitely the highlight of the hike, Thoreau Falls, is a breathtaking waterfall nestled into the White Mountain wilderness. You and your best pal will enjoy relaxing beside the falls, taking in the beauty of cascading water before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.

3. Welch-Dickey Loop Trail

Challenge yourself and your pet with a hike along the Welch-Dickey Loop Trail, renowned for its rugged terrain and panoramic summit views. The trailhead is easily accessible from the highway, making it a popular choice for both locals and visitors. The trail spans approximately 4.4 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of around 1,750 feet. 

While not overly lengthy, the trail’s diverse terrain and elevation changes provide a rewarding hiking experience. As you ascend the rocky slopes and navigate the winding paths, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, making every step a memorable one – and great for photos! 

This trail is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a memorable hiking experience in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 

4. Mount Kearsarge North Trail

Venture to the summit of Mount Kearsarge for even more stunning photos of sweeping panoramas. The Mount Kearsarge North Trail offers a moderate ascent through scenic forests, providing ample opportunities for exploration and adventure along the way. 

The trailhead for the Mount Kearsarge North Trail is located near the town of Conway. It’s an out-and-back trail spanning about 6.2 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of around 2,600 feet. While moderately challenging, the trail’s well-maintained path and gradual ascent make it accessible to hikers of varying skill levels. 

The trail winds its way through dense forests of hardwoods and evergreens, offering you a tranquil journey. You’ll be treated to sweeping views of the surrounding White Mountains, including the Presidential Range, Mount Washington, and the picturesque Lake Chocorua.

5. Starr King Trail

In the spring and fall, why not embrace the winter wonderland of the White Mountains with a snowy trek along the Starr King Trail? This trail transforms into a snowy paradise during the colder months, offering a unique and exhilarating experience for pet owners seeking frosty adventures with their beloved companions. 

The Starr King Trail leads to the summit of Mt Waumbek, where it continues as the Kilkenny Ridge Trail. The Starr King Trail is located near Jefferson, New Hampshire, providing convenient access. This out-and-back trail spans approximately 7.2 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of around 2,500 feet. Once you reach the trail’s peak you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

The trail meanders through dense forests, across babbling brooks, and over rocky terrain. Along the way, you’ll encounter a mix of moderate inclines and flat stretches, making it manageable for people and pups in a range of fitness levels.

6. Galehead Hut: Gale River Trail and Garfield Ridge Trail

The Galehead Hut is one of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s backcountry lodges. It provides hikers with basic amenities and overnight accommodations in a remote mountain setting. Located near the summit of Galehead Mountain, the hut offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, making it an ideal basecamp for exploring the area’s trails.

The 4.6 mile one way Gale River Trail, serves as the primary access route to Galehead Hut, winding its way through dense forests and alongside the tranquil Gale River. This scenic trail offers you a gradual ascent with occasional steep sections. Along the way, you may encounter picturesque waterfalls, serene ponds, and vibrant flora and fauna.

For more adventurous hikers, the 7.5 mile one way Garfield Ridge Trail offers a rugged and challenging trek through the heart of the White Mountains. Beginning near Galehead Hut, this trail follows the ridgeline towards Mount Garfield. Get ready for stunning panoramic views!

The Gale River Trail and Garfield Ridge Trail offers the perfect blend of adventure and serenity. Spend the day exploring the rugged terrain with your furry friend before retiring to the cozy confines of the Galehead Hut for a true sanctuary in the wilderness.

What dog-friendly trails will you explore this year?

We believe that every moment spent with your pet is precious! That’s why we encourage you to take advantage of the dog-friendly trails in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

Remember: always check the specific trail regulations and guidelines before heading out with your pet, as rules can vary, and it’s essential to respect the environment and other trail users. And again, make sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your pet, as well as waste bags to clean up after them. 

Need some pet supplies prior to heading out the door, visit The Clever Critter Pet Shop & Bakery in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. We are right on Main Street. Our staff would love to help you to get where you are going! Enjoy your hike on our dog-friendly trails!