The White Mountains, located in New Hampshire, is a beautiful spot to hike with a baby or toddler. My husband and I recently took a family vacation in the White Mountains and we couldn’t have been happier with what the area had to offer.
My husband and I met while playing ultimate frisbee in London and we fell in love while we cycled around France. However, after having kids, cycling vacations aren’t yet in the cards for our family. We felt like we hit gold when we discovered hiking. With hiking my husband and I can remain active, be surrounded by nature and still bring our kids along.
Most of our vacations now are in the mountains where you will find us hiking. Our toddler has discovered the joy of being out of the backpack for parts of our hikes while our baby enjoys the view from the backpack.
White Mountains with a Baby and Toddler – Table of Contents
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Getting to the White Mountains with a Baby and Toddler
We chose to drive and stay in North Conway, a scenic small town in the White Mountains. There aren’t any large airports, although there are many smaller regional airports near North Conway. If you are looking to fly, the closest large airport would be Manchester-Boston Regional Airport which is a 2 hour and 10 minute drive to the mountains so you would have to rent a car.
My two boys were aged 13 months and 2.5 years when we visited, and we found driving to be the better choice. Driving allowed us to bring more gear and provided a way for us to get around the White Mountains and to the start of our hikes.
Our drive up north was 8 hours which is long for a baby and a toddler. To lessen the complaints during this road trip with a baby and toddler, we found the best solution was to drive during the night while our children slept.
Need to entertain a toddler in the car? Check out these car travel toys for toddlers!
The White Mountains cover a quarter of the area of New Hampshire and a small section of Maine. There are several choices of location when looking at towns to stay with Jackson, Lincoln and North Conway being some of the most popular choices.
We stayed in North Conway which had a lot to offer, and I would highly recommend it. The most important factor for us was close proximity to hikes that were suitable for hiking with a baby in the White Mountains. Other key benefits of North Conway were the cafes, restaurants, playground, and scenic mountain train ride all within walking distance of the town.
When traveling with a baby and toddler I prefer the extra space of a house and the accessibility of a full kitchen for easier meals. Eating out with children doesn’t always work out well, especially when they are tired.
Hiking in the White Mountains with a baby and toddler requires baby hiking carriers. The trails are not stroller friendly so without packs you won’t be able to hike much. We took our two hiking backpacks (Kelty PerfectFit Signature backpack) to carry our two children.
The town of North Conway is accessible by stroller. If going into town for a bit and you want to give your shoulders and back a rest from carrying a baby or toddler a stroller is very useful. We brought our Mountain Buggy Nano, one of the best travel strollers.
Other important items to pack for hiking in the White Mountains with a baby and toddler are a first aid kit, water, snacks, diaper changing items, sunhats and a change of clothes. These items can fit into most hiking backpack carriers.
If you are hiking with a toddler who loves to be out of the pack hiking, then don’t miss our post on toddler hiking gear.
Planning to fly with a hiking backpack carrier? We’ve done it many times! Get all our advice on flying with hiking carriers.
The best way to get around the White Mountains is in a rental car. The White Mountains cover a large area and you will not find a good public transport network once you arrive.
If you are staying in a town, it will be possible to walk into town with a stroller or baby carrier for meals, shopping and other attractions. However, to get to most trailheads a car will be your best option.
As much as my husband and I love a challenge, hiking with a baby and a toddler meant lowering our expectations of how high and how far we could hike in one day. Lucky for us North Conway was located around some excellent easy hikes in the White Mountains which were perfect for our family.
Hiking with a baby and toddler, my husband and I find the longest hike we can realistically do in one outing is 5km and more ideally around 3km. Like many families experience when hiking with toddlers, our toddler was no longer content staying in the backpack the entire time; he wanted to get out and hike sections of the trails himself.
A toddler learning to hike is very adorable and I was happy to go slower so his hiking ability could develop.
Best Easy Hikes in the White Mountains with a Baby and Toddler
My favorite hike in the White Mountains with a baby and toddler is Mount Willard. It is also the furthest from North Conway at a 35 minute drive, but well worth it. Mount Willard is a 5km out and back hike starting from AMC Highland Center at Crawford Notch.
This hike takes on 275 meters of elevation but is worth it for the view. The trail has a couple of split offs to other hikes so pay attention to the sign posts as you go. At the top is a 360 view of the valley below and the Saco River. It’s a great spot to stop for a bit, let the baby and toddler out and fuel up before the trip back down the mountain. Just don’t forget to take a couple photos.
Once done the AMC Highland Center is the perfect spot for lunch. The Center features a kids playground, beautiful scenery and indoor and outdoor eating options. You might end up relaxing for the afternoon as you watch your children play, we sure did!
Black Cap Trail
Another gorgeous hike with a great view from the top is Black Cap. This hike is a 3.2km there and back from the Black Cap Trailhead on Hurricane Mountain Road. Total elevation is 190km with the trail eventually turning into large rocks from a single file dirt track.
Once you reach the rock section the trail is painted with large arrows leading to the lookout.
The top of the hike is on large rocks with some small shrubbery. The 360-degree view showcases the valley in which North Conway is part of and the surrounding area. It is large enough to take off your backpacks and let the kids explore a bit, just make sure that they don’t get too close to the edges and are careful on the rocks.
Easy hikes in the White Mountains with Toddlers
Echo Lake State Park
Echo Lake State Park is less than a 5 minute drive from North Conway. The Lake has a 1.5km hiking trail surrounding the Lake; my toddler was able to complete it on his own easily. The lake is surrounded by unique rock formations that create a dramatic backdrop.
The best thing about Echo Lake is besides a small hike you can also go swimming. A small sand beach is located on the near side to the parking lot and is ideal for picnics and relaxation while your children play in the sand. If you plan for your toddler to swim make sure you bring along their swim vest.
To get a view of Echo Lake from above you can drive up to Cathedral Ledge Lookout. This gorgeous spot allows you to follow a short trail to the lookout that showcases Echo Lake’s beauty. If you want a challenge you can try to hike the trail up from Echo Lake to Cathedral Ledge, but perhaps without carrying kids!
Diana’s Bath a 1km hike on Moat Mountain Trail to the Cascades from the Diana’s Bath Trailhead. It is located only a 5 minute drive from North Conway.
The trail from the parking lot to the casades is well looked after blacktop and the only trail that is feasible to push a stroller along in the area. Past the cascades the trail turns to a dirt trail and leads to North Moat Mountain Peak, 5.5km further along.
The cascades are exciting for both adults and kids, but especially toddlers and babies. The cascades are made up of a dozen or so small waterfalls with pools and mini water slides built into the rock formation. The ideal time to visit is during the summer months so you can get fully emerged in the water.
HIking up the falls is a must. Plan to stay near your toddler exploring on their own and helping them over harder and deeper sections of the falls. I highly suggest hiking sandals that are okay to get wet for the cascades.
Whitaker Woods is within walking distance of North Conway and is comprised of a network of hiking and mountain biking trails. If you start from the John H Fuller Elementary School, the shortest loop is 1.6km on the Bancroft Loop with only 4 meters of elevation.
From the Bancroft Loop there are plenty of opportunities to expand the hike up to 5km without backtracking on the trails. However, it is very easy to get lost in Whitaker Woods, (we did), so you first should familiarize yourself with a map.
Whitaker Woods was a great location for both my 13 month old and 2.5 year old to get out of the backpacks. It’s a great safe spot for older babies and toddlers to explore on their own and pride themselves in doing a whole hike on their own without wearing themselves out.
If you are visiting North Conway with toddlers, then you’re likely going to want other attractions where your toddler can play. Here are other great things to do in North Conway with Toddlers:
Conway Scenic Railroad
Located in the center of North Conway is the Conway Scenic Railroad. Here you can take scenic train rides in the Crawford Notch and Mount Washington area. My 13 month old and 2.5 year old loved our ride.
One thing to beware of is that the train whistles at all road crossings. Babies and Toddlers have sensitive ears and I suggest sitting in the middle or back of the train to minimize the loud whistle.
This public park is in the center of North Conway. The park features a playground as well as a splash pad and benches. It is a great spot within easy walking distance if you are staying in North Conway.
My husband and I stopped at Old Village Bakery to pick up a coffee and a treat to enjoy at the park while our children played. The splash pad was a big hit, as we visited in summer, and it provided a great way to cool off.
A 15 minute drive north of North Conway is Storyland. Storyland is a fairy-tale and nursery rhyme theme park geared towards younger children and babies. If you want a day off of hiking this is a great option.