Here is a list of my top five hikes for preschoolers in the Monadnock Region. These hikes are chosen because they feature unique trails that will entertain little hikers. Pack a picnic, pick a trail and go explore.
5) Chesterfield Gorge Chesterfield NH
Toddlers have a love for water and waterfalls. The Chesterfield Gorge is a natural gorge carved out overtime. This less than 1 mile round-trip hike is found just outside of Keene. There is a picnic area, bathrooms and store (limited hours) available at the top. There is also a mailbox that holds trail maps and a bin of walking sticks for kids to pick out for their hike. The trail heads down to the bottom of the gorge. There is a fence that follows a majority of the trail along the gorge to prevent accidents. There are also a few bridges to cross, which are always a hit with toddlers. Water level dependent, the bottom area can be a fun area to splash around in. Click here for more information.
4) Crotched Mountain Greenfield NH
Crotched Mountain features the longest mountainside handicap accessible trail system in the USA. These trails are a great stroller friendly option that are not like your typical paved park trail. There are two options here, the Gregg Trail and the Dutton Trail. The Dutton trail is a loop trail that goes around a beaver pond. There are lookout decks and informational plaques around the trail that teach visitors about plant and animal life that calls the area around the trail home. The Gregg Trail is an uphill trail that leads to a observation deck. It gives kids the sense of reaching a summit of a big mountain without too much effort. There are also informational plaques that tell visitors what mountains and landmarks they are seeing in the distance. There are also low-bush blueberries in the “summit area”. Crotched Mountain usually features Story Walks along the trails in the late summer. These books cut up and placed along the trails like blazes keeps kids moving forward and can practice reading skills as they get physical exercise. Click here for more information.
3) Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail Peterborough NH
The Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail is a 5 mile long trail that stretches from downtown Peterborough and ends at the Raymond Trail head for Pack Monadnock. The section that is great for kids is on the either side of Old Street Road. On the west hand side there is a loop trail that passes over bridges and through a field. The east side is our favorite. It starts off with a series of bog boards that kids always find fun to walk over. In the height of the summer the swamp grass is often taller than they are giving it a jungle feeling. At the end of the bog boards kids are greeted with blueberry bushes! What a sweet reward. The trail then follows the small brook over more bridges, and then reaches “Wolf Rock” as the toddlers with Hike it Baby Monadnock have named it. They quickly scramble up the large boulder and howl like wolves. If the motivation is there, you can follow the trail another half mile out to a secluded pond where in July there is more than enough blueberries to fill hungry toddler bellies. Click here for a trail map.
2) Rhododendron State Park Fitzwilliam NH
Rhododendron State Park is home to one of the largest Rhododendron Groves in the north east. There are two trail options here, both less than a mile long. The first main trail brings you through the heart of the grove. When in full bloom this grove covers the trail and makes it look like you are walking through a floral tunnel. Very mystical for kids. The trail also features a couple of bridges and benches which are always a hit for kids. The second trail is the Wildflower trail which in the spring and summer features many flowers in bloom. Click here for more information.
1) Andre Institute of Art Brookline NH
Andres Institute of Art is a free outdoor museum. It features sculptures from all over the world. Kids can truly be kids here. They can run, touch, yell and interact with the art. There is a variety of trails that you can explore, all spotted with different works of art. There is also the paved road (closed to public traffic) that is stroller friendly. While there is not as much to see on the road, there is still sculptures to be seen, as well as picnic areas. Print a map before you leave Click here for more information