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
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
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!
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
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
Photo by Jason Heid