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A Locals Guide to the Best Sunrise Spots in New Hampshire

With its rich history, towering mountains, beautiful vistas, and serene waters, the Granite State of New Hampshire is simply magical. Whether you’re into adventure, sports, family outings, history, or wildlife spotting, New Hampshire has something for everyone. It’s perfect for the romantic, too—enjoy a sunrise adventure at one or all of NH’s beautiful spots for a life-changing experience. Presenting our list of the top five sunrise spots you absolutely must visit the next time you’re in the state.

Chocorua Lake, Tamworth

Sunrise over Chocorua Lake with a view of Mt. Chocorua in Tamworth
Steeped in a mystery that is as heart-wrenching as it is awe-inspiring, Lake Chocorua gets its name from the Native American Chief Chocorua. From the lakeshore, you’ll get a stunning view of Mount Chocorua, where the Chief’s life ended.

Lake Chocorua is the perfect spot to start your day amid mist-covered mountains and surprisingly calm waters. While the area along the lakes’ sides is exclusive to residents, the bridge’s parking area is open to tourists and visitors. You can also access the lake from the CLC’s (Chocorua Lake Conservancy) properties, also known as the Grove and the Island. 

The lake is a mile-long but covers over 200 acres; the lake is the ideal destination for sunrise adventures, canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. A trip around the lake is the best way to capture its true magnificence and essence. On a good day, one might spot bald eagles flying low or loons swimming across the lake.

The water is relatively shallow, but the rocks tend to get slippery, so wearing or carrying appropriate footwear is advisable. A smaller pond located further from the mountain has some great places worth exploring, but the main lake itself is perfect for a morning dip!

Mount Major, Alton

Sunrise from the top of Mt. Major in Alton New Hampshire
With magnificent, breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesauke, Mount Major has become a popular tourism destination. Elevated at over 1750′, a hike to the top of this rocky summit is a great way to start a morning with friends and family alike. Mount Major is accessible by the Boulder Loop trail, which includes a choice between three trails: blue, orange, and yellow.
You can pick a trail according to your fitness level and whether younger family members accompany you. Not too exhausting, you can be at the top in 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the route. The blue trail is the most challenging as it is the steepest, while the yellow is relatively easier.
This hike has a little something for everyone:
  • You can stroll through the woods
  • Indulge in some basic amateur rock climbing
  • Meander over rocks in the middle of thick blueberry bushes
It is also pet-friendly!
The unmatched views of Lake Winnipesaukee and surrounding areas from the top make the effort well worth it. All you need is a good pair of shoes, a bottle of water, and a flashlight to help guide you. Not to mention a sweater in case you get cold!

Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach in Hampton New Hampshire
Not a mountain person? NH has you covered with its almost-white sand at Hampton Beach. With a long, sandy shore, this sun-filled getaway is a great spot to let your hair down! The silhouette of the sun rising over the waves and the surfers on the horizon make for a spectacular view. Plant your chair in the sand, set up your umbrella, and slap on some sunscreen for a day of relaxation and refreshment.
A shaded boardwalk across the street filled with arcades, bars, restaurants, and stores helps pass the time. Out of these, The Hampton Beach Casino, The Hampton Beach Ballroom, and Hampton Beach’s iconic Blink’s Frydoe Restaurant are worth visiting.
The beach hosts a Master Sand Sculpting Classic over Labor Day weekend, which is an experience in itself. In recent years, the Go Topless Day Gatherings have attracted hordes of people to the beach. Nightly outdoor concerts held at the SeaShell Stage are also a great way to experience the local music culture.
The sunrise and sunset at Hampton beach are very scenic and make for an ideal end to a day of sand and sun.

Mt. Cardigan, Orange/Alexandria

`Mount Cardigan Sunrise in the towns of Orange and Alexandria

Photo by James Dillon

Adventure seeker? Come to Mount Cardigan. It lies within Cardigan Mountain State Park, which offers a range of activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, biking, OHRVing, and more.
Mount Cardigan’s treeless summit affords outstanding views of New Hampshire, with a 360-degree panoramic view, including glimpses of Mount Monadnock, the White Mountains, Pleasant Mountain in Maine, and Camel’s Hump in Vermont.
A granite-topped mountain with a sprinkling of green, Mount Cardigan offers several hiking trails. Some of these are ranked moderate and are a steady uphill climb–perfect for family outings. Of these, the Mount Cardigan Loop Trail is three miles long and begins near Orange. Parking is limited but accessible, and the hike starts from there itself. Starting up the West Ridge Trail, it crosses with the Skyland Trail and the Ranger-Cabin Trail. If you’re up for something more challenging, you’ll find a Class 3 trail (Holt Trail) as well.
As Mount Cardigan is a bare-rock summit, the views from the very top are unparalleled during the day and stunning at sunrise.
Mornings at Mount Cardigan are particularly busy, so there’s always plenty of company. Don’t forget to bring a cardigan to this bare summit with constant wind.

Squam Lake, Lakes Region NH

Squam Lake in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire

Photo by Jason Heid

Covering more than 6700 acres, Squam is the second-largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire after Lake Winnipesaukee. It was initially named Keeseenunknipee, which meant “the goose lake in the highlands.” Holderness is the largest town in the center of the lake. Yes, the lake is so huge that it has as many as 67 islands.
The Squam Lakes Association rents out powerboats and sailboats to tourists who want to catch the sunrise and explore the little islands around. Given its rocky channels, canoeing and kayaking are encouraged. The water is so blissfully warm that you can swim in it without fear of turning blue. So don’t be afraid to dive right in.
A pontoon boat cruise around the lake is a great way to explore 61 miles of shoreline. Want more? Try a driver-accompanied cruise that will guarantee an exciting history lesson served alongside peaceful and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The movie “On Golden Pond” was filmed on this very lake.
This hauntingly beautiful lake also serves as a nesting ground for various loons, Great Blue Herons, and Bald eagles. The sunrise experience here is unlike any other.
The lake has many great restaurants worth checking out. When planning a visit here, book a cabin in the woods or camp out to truly connect with nature!
Even if you’re not a regular morning person, the spectacular sight of the sunrise at these spots will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone. Rest assured that they are all well worth the effort taken and sleep sacrificed. We will see you out there!

NH Rocks

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Helping you find things to do in New Hampshire while working to make life easier and more fun!

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