I’m a recent graduate of UNH’s Paul College. I grew up near Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains, and when it came time for college, I was worried about moving south toward UNH for fear that I might not have as easy access to some of my favorite activities, such as fishing, hiking and just being outdoors. Fortunately, UNH has easy access to tons of beautiful scenery, great fishing, beaches and much more. Whether you join the UNH Outing Club or Outdoor Adventures for one of their trips; take a couple hours between classes to go fishing, or take an entire weekend to hike in the White Mountains, you’ll find no lack of things to do while attending UNH.
Hiking near campus
Now, the Seacoast area doesn’t have tons of elevation gain, so there aren’t many large mountain hikes near campus. The closest and most popular mountain is Mount Major in Alton. Only a 45-minute drive from campus, it offers fantastic views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains, which are situated on the north end of the lake. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Mount Washington.
If you would like to avoid the crowds, the rest of the Belknap Range offers fantastic views and relatively easy hiking for all experience levels. I would also highly recommend the Ossipee Range, just north of Winnipesaukee. Trails can be accessed from Castle in The Clouds in Moultonborough, taking beginners and advanced hikers to summits with beautiful views. The Brook Trail offers countless views of stunning waterfalls.
Close to campus there are many trails that are perfect for running, walking and trail running. From College Woods to Wagon Hill some great short trails even go along the water. Kingman Farm, off Route 155, is only a couple of miles of campus, and it’s a great place to walk, run or ride your bike.
More hiking up north
The White Mountains offer incredible hiking for all experience levels. Making the trip up north isn’t that bad either; the southernmost Whites are only an hour and a half away. Intermediate hikers often love to hit Mount Chocorua, which offers beautiful, 360-degree views of gorgeous lakes as well as peaks to the north.
Some of my absolute favorite hikes are Mount Lafayette, Mount Liberty and Mount Washington. If you’re into amazing views with smaller crowds, my favorite hike is Bond Cliff, or just about any other peak in the Pemi Wilderness. Just be prepared to hike extended distances here.
Route 16 offers easy access to all of New Hampshire’s mountains, including Mount Washington. If you’re more into pretty drives, you can easily access the Kancamagus Highway and pass through and over some gorgeous mountains from the safety of your own car. There are plenty of covered bridges and river stops/swimming holes along the way. Another favorite of mine is Crawford Notch, also easily accessed via Route 16. When you’re done with your day or weekend adventures, visit some of the shops in downtown North Conway and grab a bite to eat.
For more advanced hiking, contact me or do some research on New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers.
Fishing near campus
The Lamprey River is fishable year round (subject to New Hampshire Fish and Game regulations) with fantastic warm water species fishing. It’s stocked during two seasons, and this makes it a great place for anglers of all types. The Lamprey offers great swimming, a little bridge-jumping and even a rope swing if you’re willing to get wet. Only four miles off campus, the Wiswall Dam is a favorite spot for many students. Less than a mile further down the road is Packers Falls, another beautiful spot.
The Cocheco is yet another nearby river that is a favorite among anglers, and there are some great access points within 20 minutes of campus.
Ski, paddle, surf
UNH is one of the best schools for people who love to ski, as it’s conveniently located within two hours of many ski mountains. Gunstock in Gilford is very popular due to its proximity from campus — only 45 minutes.
UNH offers easy access to kayaking and paddleboarding on the Lamprey, on nearby beaches or on many local ponds. At Campus Rec, you can rent equipment for almost any outdoor adventure at an extremely reasonable price.
Odiorne Point in Rye has walking trails with beautiful views of the ocean and a science center that provides insight into New Hampshire’s diverse ocean life and a peek into the area’s history.
Hampton Beach is another common destination for students who want to meet up, swim, sunbathe, surf or take in some skee-ball or other arcade games.
Feel free to contact me at Hiking and Fishing with any questions about recreational opportunities in New Hampshire. I’d be happy to help out with planning or information.
Maxwell DesMarais '16 graduated from UNH’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics with a degree in business administration, and today he’s working as an SEO and PPC specialist at a digital marketing agency in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. An avid outdoorsman, even as a busy college student with multiple competing priorities Max made time to get out and do the things he loves. His advice for UNH students? “Try a bit of everything, and never settle into a monotonous routine of doing the same things every day and weekend. Mix it up and take some risks. Life is more fun that way.”