Newport is a small town in southwest New Hampshire located next to the Sugar River, which has shaped much of its past and present. The river’s water helped Newport become a mill and manufacturing town that made textiles, furniture and other products. Today it continues to be a hardworking town that is proud of its history and its location within an area rich with natural resources that are sure to please outdoors-loving dogs and their families.
The picturesque Sugar River Rail-Trail travels 10 miles from its trailhead at Belknap Ave in Newport to Washington St in Claremont. At Newport, the river arches upward away from downtown, and the trail follows. On its course, you and your leashed pup will pass through two covered bridges over the Sugar River on surfaces that include ballast, cinder and sand. With a dozen or so uncovered bridges, there will always be a view of the river, its tributaries or wetlands to enjoy. In the winter, the trail can be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and in nicer weather, walking and mountain biking. You and your fur-pup will likely encounter the abundant wildlife on this trail, including deer, occasionally moose, wild fowl and small mammals, so be on the lookout for them!
Whatever your reason for being in or near Newport with your faithful furry friend, you will find many activities and pleasures to suit you both. Come on over!
The small town of Newport is home to the Crow’s Nest Campground, a very dog-friendly place to stay for a night or longer. Nestled in the woods in the Lake Sunapee Region, the campground covers 34 acres along the Sugar River and welcomes dogs that must be leashed or tied, but who can run free in a 50x50-foot run on the grounds. Dogs aren’t allowed in the pool or on the pool deck, but can swim with their humans in the river, or in the campground pond if people aren’t using it. Fido is also welcome to join his family for fishing and walking the pawsome grounds, too! With nearly 100 campsites for tents, RVs and campers, there is a perfect spot for you!
The Claremont Junction neighborhood in Claremont contains Moody Park, 325 acres of dog-friendly park that boasts 6 intersecting maintained trails, perfect for a hike or ride with your furry bestie by your side. The trails are also great for cross country skiing and snowshoeing in winter, and there is a pavilion with picnic tables and a grill for a casual outdoor meal. Arf! The trails also feature several picnic tables scattered within a few minutes of the parking area and restrooms. The area is wooded, with some gentle ascents/descents here and there, and some trails are easy loops, while others are out-and-back and a bit more challenging. All in all, this puptastic park is a woofderful trail system to explore with your pooch!
The Mount Sunapee State Park resides in Newbury, and includes Lake Sunapee. This dog-friendly park features a ski resort, and a 4,000-acre lake offering swimming, fishing and lovely beaches with boat launches for those who like to paddle or row with their furry buddies from October 1 to April 30. Best of all, Mount Sunapee offers ample opportunity for hiking via the trails, paved roads and Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway that circle and climb Mount Sunapee. Views of Sunapee Lake, Lake Solitude and the areas south of the mountain can be had from overlooks on the Summit, Solitude and Newbury Trails. Dogs are allowed in the campground as well, and must be leashed always. That won’t stop Fido from having a pawrrific time, though, sniffing the wildlife on the trails and following the flights of the many species of birds who make this their home.
Washington is home to the pup-friendly, 8100-acre Pillsbury State Park, just south of Lake Sunapee. Nestled in thick forest, this park is dotted with small, clear ponds that surround a campground and hiking trails. The tenting campsites are clustered together in several areas around Vickery, Butterfield, May and Mill Ponds. Each site features a pit toilet, and an unpaved road connects them. There are 7 trails perfect for walks with your furry pup, along which large and small wildlife abound, including moose and loons. The North Pond trailis about 1 mile long with an estimated duration about 45 minutes, and takes you from the Park’s picnic area up to North Pond. It’s an easy hike, as it follows a dirt logging road. Sightings of beavers and their dams are commonplace along this trail. Woofderful!
Charlestown borders the Connecticut River, and contains 2 parks of interest to dog-lovers and their fur-babies. The Connecticut River State Forest is a dog-friendly hiker’s paradise. Its trails are located within the park’s 216,000 acres. Check out the Connecticut River State Forest Trail, an out-and-back route of about 1.5 miles with a surface of packed earth. This trail is considered a difficult one owing to the steep incline at the beginning. Sightings of deer, bear and other wildlife are likely, so keep your eyes peeled! The trails and roads of the Spaulding Wildlife Management Area are maintained by the NH Fish and Game Department and are open to hikers, hunters, and pups on leash. If you’re inside the area during hunting season, be sure to outfit yourself and Fido with blaze orange garments. This is basically a semi-wilderness trail with no amenities, but because of that you’ll have it much to yourself, which is an amenity of its own!