4 Best Autumn Hiking Trails in Belknap County for You and Your Dog

Autumn is the perfect season to take your dog on a nice long hike through the backcountry trails of New Hampshire. With the rolling hills and vibrant leaves in their reds, oranges and yellows, autumn is truly a special time in Belknap County, and for many people, it’s the season they wait for all year. 

CiCi on Piper Mountain Trail in Gilford

CiCi on Piper Mountain Trail in Gilford

Anyone who’s been to New Hampshire knows that there’s nothing quite like Fall in the Granite State, and there’s no better time of year to take your dog on a fun-filled adventure. The autumn air is cool and bugless, turning the trails of Belknap County into a serene place to spend an afternoon. You and your dog will love listening to the wind sweeping through the colorful branches and watching all the wildlife scurrying across the forest floor, foraging for food to last the winter. 

Fall is truly when the Lake Winnipesaukee Region is most striking, and exploring the region during this wonderful time of year is something neither you nor your dog should miss. But with so many trails to choose from, selecting one can be an overwhelming task. So to make your autumn a little easier, here is a list of four of the best hiking trails near Belknap County for you and your dog to conquer this season. 

Belknap Fire Tower Trail - Gilford, NH

View from Belknap Fire Tower

View from Belknap Fire Tower

If you’re looking for a hike with a spectacular view, look no further than the Belknap Fire Tower Trail. This 2-mile loop brings you to the top of a 711-foot elevation in Belknap Mountain State Forest, giving you a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and their radiant Fall colors. 

The trail is steep but very dog-friendly, your pup will love the climb, and you’ll love the easy to navigate circuit. The trail is clearly marked, and there are plenty of places to stop for a breather and take in the beautiful vista. 

Also if you’re up for a scavenger hunt, there is an old abandoned plane hidden in the nearby forest, somewhere just off the main trail. 

Having Fun on Lockes Hill in Gilford

Having Fun on Lockes Hill in Gilford

Lockes Hill Trail - Gilford, NH

This is an easy trail with views that will leave you breathless! If you’re a first-time hiker or you have a dog that can’t do long walks, Lockes Hill Trail is the trail for you! 

The short 1.8 mile circuit loops through the beautiful forests near Lake Winnipesaukee. Compared to the surrounding mountains this trail doesn’t require a lot of uphill climbing as it has a modest peak. But it’s just high enough that at the top you can see over all the foliage and take in the stunning view of Lake Winnipesaukee, crowned with the radiant colors of autumn. 

Piper Mountain Trail - Gilford, NH

If you and your dog are looking for a good workout, then you’ll be quite happy on Piper Mountain. With a nearly constant incline, Piper Mountain Trail will take you and your dog up through a beautifully groomed trail with lots of challenging rocky terrain. 

At its highest point, the trail brings you to an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet, but once at the top you’ll be pleased to find an unhindered view of the surrounding mountains. The peak is almost solid rock, and there isn’t much soil for trees or brush to cling their roots too, meaning you get a stunning panoramic view of Belknap County. 

It’s a challenging hike, but it’s frequented by dogs of all breeds so it shouldn’t be too much for your pooch, even smaller less athletic breeds should be fine. 

Client dog, Barco, enjoying the boardwalk on the Waukewan Highlands Trail

Client dog, Barco, enjoying the boardwalk on the Waukewan Highlands Trail

Waukewan Highlands Trail - Meredith, NH

This trail is for anyone who wants to spend a relaxing afternoon with their dog in the woodlands of New Hampshire. You won’t face any challenging terrain or have high peaks to climb to, instead you and your pup will get a pleasant stroll through a well-kept trail. 

By mid-fall the Waukewan Highlands Trail is covered in bright crunchy leaves for your dog to play and roll around in. You’ll also find some really neat wooden boardwalks that cover up parts of the trail that would otherwise be impassable. 

This is a terrific trail to spend a lighthearted autumn afternoon and its combination of natural beauty and ease of access will have you visiting again and again. 

With so many beautiful trails to choose from, there’s no reason to spend autumn indoors. Grab your leash and your water bottle and take your dog on an adventure this season. You’ll be happy you did.