A toddler friendly trail allows families to get some fresh air, have a positive sensory experience, and see natural beauty. The Seacoast of New Hampshire and Southern Maine provide some awesome hiking opportunities that even our smallest family members can tackle. Here are five Seacoast trails perfect for toddlers as well as what to pack for your time in nature.
What to Pack
As someone who has spent endless hours on the trail with my toddlers, I quickly learned that the unprepared trips can turn into nightmares. Here’s what I pack for a toddler hike:
- Water: For 1-2 hours, I pack at least a liter a person
- Extra set of clothes: This is helpful if clothing gets soiled or wet
- Snacks: Keep everyone’s energy up
- Small toy or stuffed animal: A comfort item helps toddlers navigate new experiences
- Surprise treat: Candy, sweets, or a special treat works well as a reward or bribe
- Carrier: I only use this if necessary. For 1-2 year olds I used an Ergo soft carrier, and for 3-4 year olds I used a Trail Magik carrier or Osprey Poco Plus.
- Diaper/wipes – Accidents happen
- First aid kit – Purchase a first aid kit or pack your own from home in a Ziploc.
On some short hikes, I didn’t need won’t use any of these items. However, others I used them all. If you plan to hike longer distances – pack the 10 essentials of hiking to ensure safety and comfort.
5 Seacoast Trails Perfect For Toddlers
Great Bay Discovery Center Boardwalk- Greenland, NH
A short, stroller friendly loop will ignite your little one’s imagination and keep their attention. Just a half mile, this loop hike goes through forest and on a boardwalk over marsh. Kids will love the “attractions” of the little milk truck in the parking lot, nature scape playground, climbable boat replicas, and animal tracks painted onto the boardwalk. The center itself is free to enter but only offered seasonally for access to bathrooms and exhibits. Bring a snack to enjoy at the covered picnic area. Lastly, if your child likes water, head down the kayak boat launch to wade in the bay! This hike is located at 89 Depot Road in Greenland, New Hampshire and is free to park.
Dominicus Hanson Pines Park – Rochester, NH
This loop hike is less than a mile with even shorter options within. An easy, flat path loops next to Spaulding High School, through the pine forest to the Cocheco River. A beautiful pedestrian bridge is a fun attraction half way through the loop. The trail curves back to the parking lot and ends at a new playground perfect for toddler age kids. The loop total is 0.7 miles but if you want a shorter jaunt, simply take the paved trail 0.1 mile to the walking bridge on the river. This trail also has picnic areas and free parking. It is located on Yeagley Way adjacent to Spaulding High School. The trail entrance is next to Hanson Pines outdoor pool.
Little River Park – Lee, NH
Little River Park has one of my favorite playgrounds for toddlers. In addition to the amazing sand box and small slides, there’s a trail system in the outskirts. For toddlers, take the Forest Trail Loop the 0.5 miles to see trees, find pine cones, and maybe a squirrel or two. This park has covered picnic areas, basketball courts, and usually a porta-potty. Little River Park hikes are located at 39 North River Road in Lee, New Hampshire. Parking is free.
Wells Reserve at Laundolm – Wells, Maine
The Barrier Beach Trail at Wells Reserve is a wide, mowed grass trail perfect for little legs and also stroller-friendly. The path wanders past fields, forest, and marsh to the sandy Barrier Beach. Pack some sand toys and enjoy the beach without the crowds. The Reserve charges $6 per adult and $1 per child in the summer and fall seasons. When the center is open, visitors have access to restrooms and a visitor center. There are also outdoor picnic areas. This trail is located at 342 Laundolm Farm Rd in Wells, Maine.
Beach Plum Farm Preserve – Ogunquit, Maine
Beach Plum Farm Preserve has a half mile loop trail with views of salt marsh, stream, forest, and gardens. Home to the headquarters of Great Works Regional Land Trust, this trail has a picnic area, visitor center, and bathrooms. Families can check out “discovery backpacks” for free to explore with binoculars, activities, and more. Learn more about this program in my previous post. The trailhead is free and accessed on 610 Main St in Ogunquit, Maine.
More Seacoast Trails For Toddlers
Looking for more? Check out some of my other hiking and trail posts. For example, you can explore trails with water, waterfall hikes, or Portsmouth hikes. In addition, get a copy of my ebook Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks – Volume 1 where you can get trail descriptions, driving directions, and advice for ten family friendly hikes.
New Hampshire and Maine are wonderful places to explore nature with your little. There are so many Seacoast trails perfect for toddlers.