Open seasonally from mid-May until mid-October, the Boulder Loop Trail in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest offers a challenging hike for your fur family. Your pups can scramble up rock formations and sniff out wildlife while you admire the view from scenic overlooks. Bring a camera: Fido and Fifi will look fabulous against these mountain vistas!
The Boulder Loop Trail includes some steep climbs. It's nothing fit doggos can't handle but isn't recommended for people or pups with mobility limitations. If your pack is ready for the challenge, the views of Mount Chocorua and the Swift River Valley from the trail's high points will make the trek well worth your effort.
Parking is available across from the trailhead, and the nearest facilities (vault toilets and a water pump) are just up the road at the Covered Bridge Campground. The trail has had some recent improvements, including stone steps built from local rock. The area suffered a devastating wildfire in 2016, which lead to some permanent changes in the route to protect fragile flora as it regrew. You might encounter some expected twists and turns, so follow the yellow blazes.
The trail's 15 educational stops along the path will probably interest you more than your fur-babies, but hey, they love it when you're happy. To get the full scoop, download the interpretive trail guide from the Forestry Service website. Moving clockwise around the loop, your first stop is the boulder field quarried in the 1850s to build supports for the nearby Albany Covered Bridge. Continue up the trail to spot bedrock exposed by ancient glaciers and see signs of grus, a geological term for the disintegrating granite sometimes called "rotten rock."
Soon you'll reach the first overlook with a view of Passaconaway Valley. You'll see plenty of white birch trees here, New Hampshire's state tree (so encourage Fido to avoid an unpatriotic pit stop and aim for a different tree). Hemlock, red oak, and plenty of conifers also line your trail to the next scenic overlook, this time facing south. After a return through the boulder field created more than 17,000 years ago by glaciers, you'll be back at the trailhead and on to your next adventure.