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Hiking New Hampshire’s 4000 Footers with Children

June 30, 2019
Stopping briefly on the trail to Mount Pierce, one of New Hampshire’s forty-eight 4,000 footers, in the White Mountains.

Hiking New Hampshire’s Forty-Eight 4000 Footers is a tall challenge, and for some the perfect short or long-term adventure.

In the tiny little state of New Hampshire, you can find forty-eight (48) 4,000 ft high mountains. Locals and avid hikers call them the 4,000 footers. The majority of them are found within ‘the Whites’ (White Mountains), including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288.2 ft.

The idea of hiking all 48 peaks is fascinating to many people who love to hike and also to those looking for a short or long-term challenge. I have several friends who love hiking in the White’s, some of them make peak bagging in the Whites a regular outdoor activity.

People come from all over the US and world to hike in New Hampshire. People who hike all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 Footers can earn a respectable NH48 patch.

If you’re looking for a new life goal or short-term project, hiking in New Hampshire might make a good adventure. It should be said, however, don’t be fooled by the precautions and preparations you must make to hike in the Whites. The 4,000 footers may be smaller than say mountains in the Alps, but the conditions, geography, and isolation of the mountains can make hiking unprepared or hiking without smarts, simply dangerous. Mount Washington alone is known for its unpredictable weather and warning signs inform hikers that it is one of the deadliest mountains. Even in summer, one can find snow, freak storms, and other dangers, such as rockfall.

A few years ago, the kids and I attempted a hike in the Whites in mid June and turned back after several hours of hiking due to the snow and ice we encountered.

Early this month, we lucked out with early summer weather and had the opportunity to hike two of the forty-eight footers, Mount Pierce and Mount Eisenhower. The bugs, however, below treeline were horrendous–and I accidentally left the bug spray in the car!

Peak Bagging in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Hiking 4,000 Footers with Children

While my list of 4,000 footers in New Hampshire with my children is short, we have extensive hiking experience, as I have previously blogged about, including our recent 100K St. Cuthbert’s Way Hike in Scotland, The Camino de Santiago, and The Tour du Mont Blanc. I have previously followed a family of three on Instagram who recently finished hiking the forty-eight, and I recall seeing a blog one of a woman who was attempting to hike them with her two young daughters.

I certainly believe that many things are possible with children. This adventure may certainly be one of them, provided you do some independent research on the peaks before you set out so you know what you are getting yourself and group into, including ensuring that you are prepared, know the weather, have some prior hiking with kids (or outside) experience, are adequately packed with the right gear, have a map and know how to use it, and have a backup/change of plan strategy. Keeping in mind its imperative to consider the age, fitness, abilities, and unique personality of your child, and know that this adventure is not for everyone, not only so you don’t bite off too much to chew too soon, but to ensure that everyone has a good, positive experience.

Some people complete all 48 quickly; some in less than a year, others over a span of many years. Whether you’re hiking with children, solo, with a friend, or in a group, with plans to do one, several, or all 48 peaks, you’re sure to create an experience you’ll remember. And, if you can’t make it to New Hampshire, look for trails closer to home and create your own challenge! Happy hiking!

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