Is there anything more soothing to the soul than nature? It has inspired poets, has been the meditative escape of world leaders, and hiking in it is a recreation choice that serves all people from casual walkers to extreme athletes (depending on the difficulty).
“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.” – Claude Monet
“The poetry of the earth is never dead.” – John Keats
“The spiritual uplift, the goodwill, cheerfulness and optimism that accompanies every expedition to the outdoors is the peculiar spirit that our people need in times of suspicion and doubt…No other organized joy has values comparable to the outdoor experience.” – Herbert Hoover
To be sure, nature, particularly the kind that can be found when hiking in the White Mountains region, is something grand to experience, but before you lace up your boots and fill your backpack, consider these helpful tips on how to help preserve nature and yourself.
hikeSafe and Hike Safe Cards
The hikeSafe is a program provided by The NH Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest. Together, they promote a code that all hikers and outdoor enthusiasts should follow to keep themselves safe, and they sell the Hike Safe Card.
What’s a Hike Safe Card? It’s your ticket out of having to pay rescue costs should the worst-case scenario happen to you. Also, it’s not just for hikers! Any outdoor explorer, casual and up, can purchase one for $25, and whole families are covered when they pay $35.
How to Avoid a Rescue
Ideally, you’ll never need a rescue, so to make that event less likely, prepare in advance for your adventure by doing all of the following:
- Be proactive – Before you run off into the wild, take time to find out what the experience will be like (think terrain type, weather conditions, etc.). This will help inform what type of items you’ll need to pack to be comfortable and ready for anything.
- Tell a friend or family member – This advice isn’t exclusive to hiking. Tell someone where you are planning to go as well as your expected return time. And, if you are running behind schedule, update that person. This knowledge will help your close contacts sound the alarm if you end up in a bit of trouble.
- Go in groups and stay in groups – We know that there are some who will opt to hike by themselves, but in general, it’s always smart to bring someone along.
- Be ready to pivot – Many different factors can disrupt hikes, and that’s perfectly fine as long as you react appropriately to them. If the weather takes a turn or you become unexpectedly tired, it’s time to turn back and take on the hike another day. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst – Rescue services are available, but the best case is to be ready to save yourself. Much of that preparation can be done simply by following the tips above. What you pack and the actions you take could make a major difference, so don’t take the advice lightly.
As noted above, here is an official hiker code you can review here, which inspired our list.
Nature is beautiful, but it’s made much less so by those who harm its natural splendor. That’s why hikers should plan ahead so that they leave no trace. Here are some ways to preserve the natural majesty:
- Carry in, carry out – It’s simple, whatever you bring with you should leave with you. The best way to do this is to pack trash bags for all kinds of refuse. If you pack a lunch full of chip and candy bags, keep them on your person and dispose of them at home. If you hike on a dog-friendly trail, bring bags to scoop up their poop and plan to take them with you. This approach will allow others that come after you to fully enjoy the same experience you did.
- Pick up after others – Unfortunately, not everyone is going to obey the rules of courtesy, but you can be someone else’s hero (or just Mother Nature’s) by picking up trash along the way. Bring an empty bag and remove what doesn’t belong. That simple action can be a gift to the next hiker and to the earth, plus it will make you feel good inside! Win, win!
- Be careful with fire – Burn local (down and dead) firewood, use campfires and fire rings safely, and extinguish fires completely every time.
- Keep wildlife wild – Observe animals from a distance, refrain from feeding them, and always store your food securely.
- Share the outdoors –Be kind and respectful to everyone you meet or pass in New Hampshire’s great outdoors. If a trailhead or camping area is already crowded, consider a different hike or destination. We all love the outdoors, but we don’t want to “love it to death”.
Learn more about all of the Leave No Trace Principles and more here.
Did you know that while you prepare you can support our local community? It’s true! Many of the items you need to get ready for a successful, sensational hike are available locally. Here are a few helpful stops you can make.
- Mountain Wanderer
- Burgeon Outdoor
- For all your outerwear needs, stop into Burgeon Outdoor. They have a wide selection of men, women, and children that will help you take full advantage of the outdoors in comfort.
- Visit: 25 South Mountain Drive, Unit A4, Lincoln, New Hampshire
- White Mountain Bagel Co
- We recommend White Mountain Bagel Co for a prime before-hike breakfast. Their bagels (and everything else) have raving fans. Here’s just one example:
- “Good coffee. Good hot chocolate. Bagels were tasty and the few sandwiches my family tried were all fresh. Exactly what you want for a quick, easy breakfast.” – Jeremy A
- Visit: 25 Main Street, Lincoln, New Hampshire
- Arnold’s Wayside Diner
- For a classic diner experience during breakfast or lunch, run on down to Arnold’s Wayside Diner. They serve breakfast all day long, and it’s delicious!
- Visit: 93 US Route 3, Lincoln, New Hampshire
- The White Mountain Visitor Center
- For general information and a host of idea suggestions, there’s no better choice than The White Mountain Visitor Center. Free brochures, a lovely gift shop, and most importantly, a knowledgeable team await your visit.
- Visit: 200 Kancamagus Highway, North Woodstock, New Hampshire
- KS Market
- KS Market is a top choice for all kinds of things including snacks, drinks, and gas. They even have a self-serve car wash, camping, RV, and car supplies, and a dump station. Honestly, whatever you might need, before or after a hike (or for any kind of White Mountains adventure) is likely there. Make sure to stop in!
- Visit: 85 Main Street, Lincoln, New Hampshire
- While you can certainly get plenty of snacks at some of the previous places we suggested, if you’re really craving candy, Chutters is the place for you. They have the world’s longest candy counter filled with everything from your wildest dreams. It’s truly a can’t-miss.
- Visit: 43 Main Street, New Hampshire
Are you ready to go? There’s so much to see and do! Just remember to prepare, be safe, and be eco-conscious. We must all work together to help keep the world as wonderful as possible.
For state-wide information, head to VisitNH.gov