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2 (EPIC) New Hampshire National Parks For Your Visit to the Granite State

Looking for the best New Hampshire National Parks? The Granite State has beautiful historic sites, stunning scenic trails, and more.

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New Hampshire National Parks

We're going to give you two reasons to make New Hampshire your next vacation destination | New Hampshire National Parks
We’re going to give you two reasons why you’ll want to make New Hampshire your next vacation destination | New Hampshire National Parks

New Hampshire National Parks! We’ve got two incredible national park sites for you to see on your next visit to the Granite state.

New Hampshire National Parks includes historic sites, scenic trails and more.

To be clear, these are national park sites (as in managed by the National Park Service) but they are not capital letter National Parks. There are only 63 of those (so far).

We’re going to give you two reasons why you’ll want to make New Hampshire your next vacation destination.

New Hampshire National Parks Table Of Contents

  1. The New Hampshire National Parks
  2. New Hampshire National Forests
  3. Map Of The New Hampshire National Parks
  4. List Of New Hampshire National Parks

The New Hampshire National Parks

1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Appalachian National Scenic Trail | New Hampshire National Parks
Appalachian National Scenic Trail | Courtesy of the National Park Service

It’s the longest hiking trail in the world. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a marked hiking trail that runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Just how long a hike is that? Approximately 2,200 miles.

The original concept for the Appalachian Trail was the brainchild of Benton MacKaye. MacKaye was a forester, planner and social reformer who wrote a 1921 article in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects first proposing it.

RELATED: 19+ Hiking Apps RANKED By Experts (From Best To Worst)

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

-Henry David Thoreau

Benton MacKaye | New Hampshire National Parks

Benton MacKaye | New Hampshire National Parks
The longest trail in the world was the brainchild of forester, planner and social reformer Benton MacKaye | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In MacKaye’s original vision, the Appalachian Trail would put back together the various parts of American life that were rapidly coming undone in the early 20th century.

It would fuse leisure and industry, environment and labor, community development and wilderness preservation into an interrelated project.

RELATED: 30+ Best National Parks Books (Great Gifts For Park Lovers) 2021

“Let us assume the existence of a giant standing high on the skyline along these mountain ridges, his head just scraping the floating clouds.

What would he see from this skyline as he strode along its length from north to south?”

-Benton MacKaye

Giving City Dwellers An Escape | New Hampshire National Parks

Giving city dwellers an escape | New Hampshire National Parks
Benton MacKaye wanted to give city dwellers an escape | New Hampshire National Parks

MacKaye wanted to give city dwellers an escape from their humdrum urban existences. His bold proposal was nothing less than a wholesale reinvention of social life, economic organization, and land use.

The trail was built by private citizens and completed in 1937. It is managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.

It’s a truly magnificent hiking trail traversing the scenic, wooded, pastoral and wild lands of the Appalachian Mountains.

RELATED: 6 Epic Maine National Parks For Your Next Visit To The Pine Tree State

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

-Rachel Carson
In July of 2021, five year-old Harvey Sutton became the youngest ever to hike the complete Appalachian Trail | Courtesy of Josh Sutton

AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center | New Hampshire National Parks

Appalachian Mountain Club's Visitor Center | New Hampshire National Parks
Appalachian Mountain Club’s Visitor Center at Pinkham Notch, NH | Photograph courtesy of Robert Sutherland

Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC’s) Pinkham Notch Visitor Center in New Hampshire is at the base Mount Washington.

This place is best known for their eight “huts” that are conveniently spaced a day’s hike apart along a 56-mile-long stretch of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

The Visitor Center is a great place for hikers to get a hot meal. The Black Moose Deli is open for lunch and family style dinners are gloriously served in the evenings.

RELATED: 6 Epic Maine National Parks For Your Next Visit To The Pine Tree State


2. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park | New Hampshire National Parks

Temple at Saint-Gaudens | New Hampshire National Parks
Temple at Saint-Gaudens | New Hampshire National Parks (Courtesy of the National Park Service)

SaintGaudens National Historical Park in Cornish, New Hampshire, preserves the home, gardens, and studios of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s foremost sculptors.

An Immigrant Who Rose To Greatness

Augustus Saint-Gaudens | Courtesy of the Smithsonian

Saint-Gaudens is the story of an immigrant who rose to greatness. He was born to an Irish shoemaker and his wife shortly before their relocation to New York in 1848.

Saint-Gaudens began his artistic career as a cameo cutter. In 1867, his father sent him to Paris to study with the academic sculptor François Jouffroy. He then moved back and forth between Europe and America taking jobs sculpting busts and cameos.

By the 1880s, he had graduated to public monuments.

Saint-Gaudens and the Standing Lincoln Sculpture, 1887 | Courtesy of the National Park Service

Saint-Gaudens Purchases A Home In America

Aspet | New Hampshire National Parks
Aspet was the home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens | Courtesy of the National Park Service

In 1885, Saint Gaudens bought a farm in Cornish, New Hampshire. He settled permanently in the United States. His residence served as both his home and his studio. It was also a place where artists could gather.

He renamed his property Aspet in honor of the French village where his father was born. 

“For we constantly deal with practical problems, with moulders, contractors, derricks, stonemen, trucks, rubbish, plasterers and what-not-else, all the while trying to soar into the blue.”

-Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Self Described Choice Spirits | New Hampshire National Parks

new hampshire national parks
Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his assistants in the interior of the Large Studio, 1905 | Courtesy of the National Park Service

During the summer months, a select group of artists, musicians, and actors came to Cornish. They came seeking inspiration from the New Hampshire countryside and interaction with one another. They also came to learn from Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

The art produced by the self-described ​“choice spirits” of Cornish helped define New England as a landscape of history and myth for all equally select group of patrons.

(Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Visitors Can Take Self-Guided Tours

new hampshire national parks
Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the Arts Students League | Courtesy of the National Park Service

Visitors can take self-guided tours of the grounds and galleries on their own. All of the artwork has interpretive labels. There are also exterior wayside exhibits located throughout the park and on the nature trails.

Visitors can tour the house. There are three rooms open to the public on the first floor where you can see the actual furnishings which belonged to the Saint-Gaudens Family.

Flower Gardens At Aspet

Flower Gardens at Aspet | New Hampshire National Parks
Flower Gardens at Aspet | Courtesy of the National Park Service

The beautiful flower gardens were designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. They are definitely worth seeing while visiting the park. There are pathways which divide the garden beds and magnificent statuary which marks the east and west ends.

Barn Complex At Saint-Gaudens Farm

Barn Complex at Saint-Gaudens Farm | New Hampshire National Parks
Barn Complex at Saint-Gaudens Farm | Courtesy of the National Park Service

Another point of interest are the farm buildings. These include a 2.5-story barn with associated shed additions, forming a U-shaped complex that opens towards the farmhouse. There is also a garage which was added in 1949.

Pond At Saint-Gaudens Farm

Pond at Saint-Gaudens Farm | New Hampshire National Parks
Pond at Saint-Gaudens Farm | Courtesy of the National Park Service

The beautiful pond at Saint-Gaudens was added in 1970. It’s another popular attraction for visitors to the complex.

“What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art.”

-Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Hiking Trails At Saint-Gaudens

Map of the nature trails at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site | Courtesy of the National Park Service

Saint-Gaudens is a place for both art lovers and nature lovers. Over 100 acres of the park is forested with several nature trails winding through this woodland area. Interpretive wayside panels about the area’s natural history, are located along the trails.

The Ravine trail (.25 miles) begins at the Ravine studio. It ends at the Temple. The beginning and end of the trail consists of a steep slope, while the majority of the trail is flat and follows the Blow-Me-Up Brook.

The Blow-Me-Down & Sycamore Trails

Blow-Me-Down Trail | Courtesy of the National Park Service

The Blow-Me-Down Trail (2 miles round trip) begins at the lower field past the temple. Visitors can follow this trail all the way to the Blow-Me-Down Mill at the lower end of the park. A boardwalk near the trail’s lower end takes visitors to the shallow end of the mill pond.

The Sycamore Trail (.25 miles), a spur off of the Blow-Me-Down Trail, leads to an area frequented by beavers on the Blow-Me-Down Brook. (Source: National Park Service)


New Hampshire National Forests

White Mountain National Forest

Fall Colors at Mt. Washington, in the White Mountains National Forest, NH. USDA photo by J. Knowlton.

Our specialty is more than just parks so we’re adding a forest to our list.

The White Mountain National Forest in eastern New Hampshire and western Maine ranges from mountainous hardwood forests to majestic alpine peaks. 

View from National Forest Outlook, Kancamagus Hwy, Lincoln | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It’s breathtaking scenery includes clear mountain lakes and streams, wildlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities year round.

If you’re looking to escape the crowds then keep in mind that national forests are typically much less crowded than national parks.

Things To Do At White Mountain National Forest

Winslow Homer, Artists Sketching in the White Mountains, 1868, oil on panel, 24.1 × 40.3 cm, Portland Museum of Art | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The 800,000 acre White Mountain National Forest is mainly located in New Hampshire though it does stretch into western Maine. There are so many incredible things for you to do during any season of the year. They include:

  1. Swim in cool, clear lakes and swimming holes
  2. Fish the forest’s rivers, lakes, and ponds
  3. Hike a cornucopia of waterfalls
  4. Climb the tallest mountain in New England (Mt. Washington)
  5. Or take a coach tour to the summit of Mt. Washington
  6. Or take a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway

Outdoor activities also includes bicycling, birdwatching, boating, hunting (pursuant to state regulations), gold panning and rockhounding (free permits are required), scenic driving, stargazing, and winter sports. And, you can do all of this inside of the national forest.

The People’s Forest | The Story Of The White Mountain National Forest

The People’s Forest by David Huntley | Courtesy of the New Hampshire Film Festival

If you want to take a deeper dive into the history of this magnificent forest there’s a wonderful documentary to watch. The People’s Forest is the story of the White Mountain National Forest.

The documentary is about one of the greatest environmental comeback stories in American history. In the late 1800s, the White Mountains were ground zero for a vast environmental disaster caused by intensive logging and the massive forest fires, erosion and flooding that followed.

The destruction of New Hampshire’s forests sparked one of the nation’s first grassroots conservation movements and a decades-long national battle over the fate of eastern forestlands.

Leading the way was a unique partnership of citizens, business and civic groups that believed conservation could benefit both the environment and economy. This is the dramatic story of how those unlikely allies helped create the first National Forests east of the Mississippi and save the White Mountains. (Source: New Hampshire Film Festival)

RELATED: Gifford Pinchot: A 2021 Lesson From America’s First Forester

We’ve Got National Parks In The Movies Too

national parks in the movies
National Parks in the Movies

If you’re someone who loves films and national parks then we’ve got 25+ classic films and the national parks which made cameo appearances in these films including the one above.

Check out 25+ CLASSIC Movies Filmed In The National Parks


Map Of New Hampshire National Park Sites

List Of New Hampshire National Park Sites

  1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  2. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
Tony Pattiz

Tony Pattiz is a retired history teacher currently researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks.

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