Discovering Winter Trails, Meeting New Friends

Have you been reluctant to step outside for some winter hiking on New Hampshire’s trails? Now’s the time to give it a try. You don’t need to head to the mountains to experience a fine winter day. Rail trails and town conservation properties can inspire winter hikes close to home. 

A few days after a storm dropped fresh snow throughout southern New Hampshire, I joined a small group of participants in the New Hampshire Rail Trail Challenge for a snowshoe hike on the Goffstown Rail Trail. While the trail was ungroomed, a few snowshoers had already been through, packing down a good track for us to follow. The Goffstown trail is usually popular, but we met only a few other hardy folk enjoying the sunny Sunday. Winter conditions meant no crowds!

While we were enjoying a Goffstown trail, Manchester Moves was hosting its Winter-Fest a few miles away in Manchester’s Stark Park. Sledders, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers all enjoyed this family-friendly event. A bonus was the Outdoor Gear Lending Library managed by Manchester Moves, letting everyone who attended the event give skiing or snowshoeing a try on the newly-developed Heritage Trail-North.

How do you find out about winter recreation opportunities close to home? 

  • Join the New Hampshire Rail Trail Challenge Facebook group. You’ll see photos from Challenge participants, reports on trail conditions, and occasional announcements of group hikes.
  • Ask your town’s Parks and Recreation Department about seasonal programs.
  • Check your town’s website or library for information about town-maintained trails. Most New Hampshire cities and towns have town forests and conservation properties, each with its own special features.

Winter means dressing in layers for outdoor activities. Sunsets come early, so plan accordingly. Be sure to carry out trash you might have (like an energy-bar wrapper), since few trails have trash cans along the way. Pack a water bottle so you can stay hydrated. 

Ready? Pick a trail, and enjoy winter in New Hampshire!

This post was originally published in the New Hampshire Rail Trail Coalition blog.