One of the great things about our park system is that no matter where you are in the state – you’ll find incredible places to recreate nearby. This allows residents and visitors alike to get outside and connect with nature, while limiting travel and practicing social distancing at the same time.
While facilities may be closed, NH State Parks remain open for recreation unless otherwise posted (*State Beaches are now closed). We recognize the importance nature has in helping to relieve stress during this time and being outdoors is a great way to get much-needed fresh air and exercise. You’ll be surprised to see what is available close to where you live.
Spring Hiking Risks
Spring is a beautiful time of year but weather conditions can be erratic. You might start hiking in a warm valley, but after an hour you may find yourself trekking through heavy rain and snow. Doing some research on trail conditions before heading out will prepare you for some of the risks associated with Spring hiking.
When planning for a safe and successful hiking adventure, remember these three important points:
- Plan ahead by checking the weather, road conditions and trail/parking regulations.
- Scout trailhead and parking availability and have alternate itineraries in mind.
- Prepare for trail difficulty with knowledge and the proper gear.
Visit this hikesafe.com for other helpful hiking safety tips.
Five common hazards:
- Snow and Ice – If you are hiking an icy trail you should try to do the hike early in the day, as icy surfaces are much easier to walk on when they are still solid. You can also buy spikes to help you stay safe as you cross icy paths.
- Mud Season – As the ice and snow start to melt, mud becomes a real hazard. Most hiking trails are muddy during spring, but this does not mean that you cannot hike. Simply keep to the driest part of the trail (normally the middle part), and make sure that you wear waterproof boots; if not your feet will quickly get wet!
- Flooding – small streams can turn into racing torrents that can easily sweep you away. Try to avoid water crossings unless you know that they are not flooded. Crossing a flooded water stream is very dangerous, and it is likely that you will get wet. This can be a real problem if you are in a cold area as you are more likely to contract hypothermia.
- Varying temperatures – In the spring, the temperature swing can be extreme, especially if you are in an area where there is elevation change. Multiple, lighter layers suited for spring are recommended.
- Injury due to winter inactivity – This is a real thing. The first hike of the season can be exciting, but overly confident when choosing a trail to hike. Take a shorter and slower hike at first to let the body adapt to the new hiking season.
- Ticks and bugs – Insect repellent is probably the last thing on your mind, but ticks are already out in some parts of New England. With a warmer than usual winter, tick numbers are predicted to be high.
NH Division of Parks and Recreation is committed to ensuring our guests and staff continue to have a safe and memorable experience at our state parks. While every individual must make decisions based on their own health, willingness to take on risk, and recommendations and mandates from local, state and federal governments, at the moment, being outdoors and isolated (dispersed recreation) meets current “social distancing” recommendations.