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24 Must-Do Hikes In New Hampshire

If you’re looking to go hiking in New Hampshire, then you’re in luck: there are tons of gorgeous hikes during every season. Because New Hampshire has so much amazing wilderness, we’ve compiled a list of the top hikes for you!

New Hampshire has some of the best hiking in the nation. The Granite State’s environment is diverse, ranging from super cool frozen waterfalls in the winter to postcard-worthy autumn views and gorgeous summer terrain.

The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire has one of the most popular and most challenging portions of the Appalachian Trail. This 800,000-acre region has six wilderness areas and represents almost 13% of the state’s total land area!

New Hampshire has 93 state parks, including beaches, recreation areas, historic sites, and more. With so much to see and do, it’s no surprise New Hampshire is a favorite hiking destination for tourists and locals alike.

We’ve put together a list of the finest treks in New Hampshire for any hiker’s taste, whether you want to take in the autumn foliage on a leisurely stroll or conquer one of the White Mountains’ numerous 4,000 feet peaks.

Here are the best hiking trails in New Hampshire, at least in our opinion!

When to Hike in New Hampshire?

One of our favorite things about New Hampshire is how diverse the weather is. There are so many beautiful times of year in NH that you really can’t go wrong!

Summer hiking in New Hampshire is popular because the forest trees provide shelter and the heat isn’t too bad.

Although melting snow can make trails slippery, spring hiking is exciting to observe nature awaken from its winter hibernation.

Autumn is a great season to hike in New Hampshire, provided you don’t mind covering up since it can get a little chilly!

We definitely don’t recommend hiking in New Hampshire in the winter. The weather gets seriously cold and some of these trails fill up with ice and snow.

The Best Hikes in New Hampshire

Here are the top hikes in New Hampshire right now!

24. Mt. Monadnock

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Mt. Monadnock

This rugged top boasts 360-degree vistas as far as Boston on a clear day, making Monadnock America’s most climbed mountain for a good reason.

You have many types of hiking trails on this mountain. The most popular is the four-hour roundtrip White Cross Trail, which starts at the Monadnock State Park entrance along US 101 in Jaffrey.

The lengthier, more challenging, but more varied Pumpelly Trail climbs the other side of the mountain from Dublin Lake, also off US 101. The Pumpelly Trail is a 6- to 7-hour roundtrip hike through the woods that ends with a climb over rocks and stones across an uneven ridge above the tree line.

Given Mt. Monadnock’s popularity and accessibility from Boston, you shouldn’t anticipate being alone on the peak on a good-weather day. It fills up quickly, so we love going on a weekday if possible.

Because the mountain is so high, it can be windy even on hot days, and the weather can change quickly, so you should definitely pack for all types of weather regardless of what temperature you feel at the base of the mountain.

23. Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail at Mt. Washington

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail

The climb of the Northeast’s highest peak along the Ammonoosuc River has a sequence of waterfalls, cascades, and vistas that exceed any other trek up the mountain.

It’s a nine-mile roundtrip trek from the trailhead directly below the Mt. Washington Cog Railway Base Station. You’ll pass the AMC cabin and Lakes of the Clouds on the way down. The Jewell Trail returns you to the trailhead in significantly less time and with equally stunning surroundings, so we recommend doing the loop.

The weather atop Mt. Washington is so harsh that Arctic gear is tested here, and it’s where the world’s most incredible land wind velocity was recorded. Definitely pack for the cold, regardless of the season!

22. Mt. Chocorua

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Mt. Chocorua

Famous for its iconic summit reflected in Chocorua Lake, Mt. Chocorua is New England’s most filmed mountain. It’s just off route 16, not far from the lake and the spectacular scenery, where you can take the famous Piper Trail.

You can take a more extended but more diverse and fascinating trip from the Kancamagus Highway at route 112. A side route to Champney and Pitcher Falls is about a mile into the ascent.

If the weather is dry, the falls can be disappointing, so you’ll definitely want to take this trip during a rainy month (which varies because NH weather can be so up and down, so check the local water levels before planning).

Mt. Chocorua has a rocky ledge at the summit where this route meets the Piper Trail. The longer route back follows the Bee Line and Bolles trails, but just be warned that it is about ten miles round-trip and involves a climb via a tricky pass that few people know about.

Before attempting this trip, make sure you have a hiking map and the AMC White Mountains Guide. The rocky peak of Chocorua is dangerous when wet, ice, or overcast. This is definitely one of the harder hikes in New Hampshire but the views are incredible!

21. Appalachian Trail near Presidential Range

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Appalachian Trail near Presidential Range

The Presidential Range traversing over Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the Northeast, is one of the most picturesque parts of the Appalachian Trail. AMC huts provide bunks and food, and a hiker ferry allows you to skip slopes if you aren’t much of a climber.

This is one of the most well-loved hikes in NH because it’s super accessible for everyone and the views are truly incredible.

A multi-day trip from US 2 in Randolph to US 302 in Crawford Notch includes 13.5 to 18 miles and is a moderate to challenging NH hike.

The route from Randolph to Madison Springs Hut (through the Valley Way Trail) comprises a climb to the Appalachian Trail. The view from here is among the nicest in the White Mountains. The Appalachian Trail traverses the ridgeline to Adams, Clay, Jefferson, and Mt. Washington. This airline route’s features include Madison Springs and Lakes of the Clouds Hut.

20. Mt. Willard

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Mt. Willard

Below the timberline, this little peak blocks the entrance to Crawford Notch and compensates climbers with one of the White Mountains’ most fabulous viewpoints, once they make it to the top. The walk is a little over three miles roundtrip and rises through chilly woodlands to the cliffs.

Enjoy this panoramic view of Crawford Notch (and wild blueberries in mid-summer). There’s no better spot to see how glaciers cut and scraped New Hampshire’s Notch.

Make sure that you plan for the high cliffs and the quick plunge if you’re hiking with youngsters. There are two other short treks from the parking area beside Little Saco Lake, one around the lake and up to Elephant Head, and one to Beecher Falls. These are both a little less challenging.

Notchland Inn offers luxurious accommodations and cottages near Mount Willard, as well as a superb restaurant. The inn welcomes pets and has a gift store and complimentary breakfast. It’s a great place to stay if you really want to take your time and absorb these incredible views!

19. Franconia Notch Ridge Trail

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Franconia Notch Ridge Trail

The eight-mile climb over the crest of the Franconia Ridge provides a gorgeous multi-peak experience, but with the added excitement of a knife-edge route with mountainsides falling precipitously on either side.

You can accomplish this eight-hour trek in one day or break it up with an overnight stay at the Greenleaf Hut.

Along with the stunning vistas of Franconia Notch, the Falling Waters Trail offers three mountain summits and a succession of waterfalls.

The last climb from Cloudland Falls to Lafayette Campground, where the loop starts and concludes, is an excellent family trek and is a bit easier. On warmer days, take a swim in one or more pools.

This is definitely one of the best hikes in New Hampshire if you want incredible views! There are a few different options depending on your skill level, so plan ahead and decide where you want to end up.

18. Basin-Cascades Trail

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Basin-Cascades Trail

You can seldom find fantastic family-friendly attractions near the start of a hiking trail. The Basin is a vast pot-hole created by a glacier cascade, making it a truly gorgeous spot even for inexperienced hikers.

Even if you don’t climb the route that starts here, it’s worth a trip to learn about its creation and enjoy the Basin.

One of the state’s most accessible waterfalls is only a few yards away, a long moderate flow over ledges that entice climbing or resting to enjoy the vista. The walk alongside the falls leads to a succession of falls and cascades over flat ridges, perfect for picnics. There’s no shortage of beautiful spots along this NH hike!

Kinsman Falls and Rocky Glen Falls are a half-mile above the first cascades. You can cross a hardwood bridge and ascend to Lonesome Lake, though the terrain becomes rougher as you go.

To reach the trailhead, park at the Basin exit and walk through the highway tunnel. A few miles south of The Basin lies the family-friendly Indian Head Resort, including a pool for post-hike relaxation.

We recommend The Basin as one of the best introductory hikes in New Hampshire because it can be tailored to fit any skill level without sacrificing the incredible views and experiences!

17. Kinsman Falls

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Kinsman Falls

One of the numerous waterfalls in Franconia Notch State Park is Kinsman Falls. The Kinsman Falls is a 20-foot-high narrow waterfall. Unlike the other waterfalls on the stream, this one plunges steeply into a deep pool, offering the opportunity to swim during the warmer months.

Most hikers begin at The Basin Trailhead along I-93. The trailhead has distance markers to Kinsman Falls and the Lonesome Lake AMC Hut. Walk down the Upper Pemigewasset’s paved and crushed-gravel trail to the waterfall, then proceed up the more-rocky Basin Cascade Trail.

A wooden sign fastened to a tree marks Kinsman Falls, or at least the area where you’ll want to veer off the Basin Cascade Trail and hike up to these falls.

You will witness the most fantastic views of the falls and access to the swimming hole along the river’s edge. Swim with caution; the current may be strong, particularly after heavy rains.

If you’re already heading up the Basin Cascade Trail then it’s definitely worth it to take a small detail and check out the Kinsman Falls. Hiking in New Hampshire isn’t complete without seeing a stunning waterfall and this one fits the bill!

16. Thoreau Falls and Zealand Falls

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Thoreau Falls and Zealand Falls

Thoreau Falls, a 4.8-mile journey from Zealand Falls, is one of New Hampshire’s lesser-known waterfalls. Get a refreshing drink and enjoy the view of Zealand Notch from the veranda of the AMC Zealand Falls Hut! No roadways lead to this undiscovered Notch, so hikers can only glimpse it.

Hike up Zealand Road, between Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods, from Route 302. The track winds through coniferous forests and an old logging train line for two kilometers before circling a pond. The Zealand Trail terminates at the Ethan Pond or Twinway Trail confluence. You can reach AMC Hut and the vistas of the steep U-shaped Zealand Notch by Twinway (to the right).

To reach Thoreau Falls, use the forested Ethan Pond Trail below Zealand Falls. The Thoreau Falls Trail leads to the ledges at the top of the falls. A 20-foot straight plunge follows a sequence of cascades, pools, and channels. Hiking around the falls’ base offers new perspectives.

15. Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge is a National Natural Landmark with 6,405 acres of swamp and woodland. It is ideal for novices and bird enthusiasts alike.

Embark on a trail adventure, and you will encounter a deer, moose, bear, beaver, or over 200 bird species. It is an excellent spot for individuals of all ages and abilities since most tracks are flat and simple.

Observe birds and enjoy the surroundings at Mud, Little, or Cherry Ponds. The Shore Path offers unbeatable views of the Presidential Range, including Mount Washington. Cherry Pond was previously a glacial lake and you can still see glacial erratics throughout trails.

Take the kids on a picturesque bicycle ride through the Pondicherry Rail Trail and Presidential Range Recreation Trail to observe wildflowers and Moorhen and Cedar Marsh. Or continue an 8-mile round via Owls Head Highway and Hazen Road.

14. Mt. Kearsarge Rollins Trail

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Mt. Kearsarge Rollins Trail

Mt. Kearsarge is 2,937 feet high and is accessible from two state parks. On the Winslow State Parkside, it’s a mild-moderate trek. Return along the Barlow Trail underneath the peak, creating a circle back to the parking area. The Barlow Trail is 1.7 kilometers long and has ledges and vistas.

The fire tower is approximately a mile up the mountain from the end of the road in Rollins State Park. You may follow the Lincoln Trail from the same parking lot for a more difficult but still brief climb.

Rangers typically welcome visitors throughout summer and autumn when the tower is operated. Its elevation of 3,000 feet allows it to have 360-degree views of the White Mountains and Vermont and many lakes.

Alternatively, you can hike the Lincoln Trail from the same parking lot for a more difficult but still brief ascent.

13. Arethusa Falls

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Arethusa Falls

The Arethusa Falls path in Crawford Notch State Park is a 3-mile roundtrip family-friendly climb to one of New Hampshire’s most spectacular waterfalls.

After seeing the falls’ impressive 140′ cascade over the granite rock wall, continue downstream to two lesser waterfalls and a swimming hole.

Hikers can utilize the Bemis Brook or Arethusa Falls trails. In terms of duration and difficulty, they’re almost identical. If you like rivers, the Bemis Brook route is worth a look.

Arethusa Falls is 2,150 feet high and the trailhead is 1,350 feet. It leads to an 800-foot elevation rise.

Keep in mind that this trek is a little steep for small children. We rank it as moderate-intermediate.

12. Mt. Pemigewasset

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Mt. Pemigewasset

The 2,557 feet Mt. Pemigewasset (also referred to as Indian Head) peak offers breathtaking views of the surrounding slopes.

Mt. Pemigewasset offers scenic views at Franconia Notch State Park. The Mount Pemigewasset Trail starts at the Flume Visitor Center’s parking lot’s north end. On the climb to the top, the trail crosses beneath Highway 93.

The roundtrip journey from the trailhead to the peak is 3.4 miles. The walk has bridges and stone steps but is primarily a pleasant stroll with nothing too strenuous.

Meanwhile, the Mount Pemi Trail is relatively strenuous, but you can hike it as a family adventure with a little additional time if you’re at all athletically inclined.

You will enjoy the late spring wildflowers and the woodland canopy as you gradually rise to the summit.

To get back to your vehicle, take the Mount Pemigewasset Trail back. The peak has cliffs and stunning views to the southwest. An alternative approach to the mountain is the Indian Head Trail, which starts farther south on Highway 93.

11. Mount Major

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Mount Major

In Alton Bay, New Hampshire, the Mount Major via Brook and Main Trail Circle is a 6.0 km moderately trafficked loop trail. It is ideally suited from April to November for hiking and snowshoeing. This route is dog-friendly as well.

The 3.6 miles Mount Major and Brook Loop Trail are ideal for a family outing or a romantic fall stroll. The vistas of Mount Washington and the Ossipee Range are worth the trip.

This intermediate-day stroll up Mount Major includes the Brook and Main Trails and is suitable for all ages! The trail is wooded till the peak, rugged and full of erratic glacial boulders. It becomes steeper halfway and up to the height, but you can choose the easy route (which is a bit longer but an easier climb) or an intermediate route that gets progressively steeper as you go.

The trail offers spectacular views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains. On the top are the ruins of Mr. Phippen’s Hut and the sight of the Major Mountain Range. It is an excellent place to stop for a picnic before going back down.

The trail is open all year, but anticipate that you will have muddy terrain in the springtime and snow/ice in the wintertime.

10. Wapack Trail at Temple Mountain Reservation

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Wapack Trail at Temple Mountain Reservation

The Wapack Trail is a 21.5-mile hiking trail that connects Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, through North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, New Hampshire. From ponds to marshes, dark forests to blueberry fields, stone walls, and cellar holes, it weaves through scenic beauty, with views of Boston and Vermont hills.

The Wapack Trail, marked in yellow, leads to Temple Mountain’s wooded summits. The mountain’s slopes are remnants of the historic Temple Mountain Ski Area.

It connects the northern entrance of Temple Mountain Reservation to the Wapack Trail. The 0.8-mile trek to the mountain’s peak is a steady but not strenuous hike up the access road.

To return to the parking lot, hike down the eastern slopes of Temple Mountain via the newly-blazed Beebe Trail, which connects to the Wapack Trail at the summit. The Beebe Trail is more wooded and offers a good amount of shade.

Several spots along the trail provide vistas to the north, including Currier Outlook, which overlooks South Pack Monadnock Mountain.

9. Lincoln Woods

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Lincoln Woods

The Lincoln Woods Trail follows the Pemigewasset River for 2.6 miles. The trail connects to the Black Pond Trail and the Franconia Brook Trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about Northeast of Lincoln. The treks provide spectacular mountain scenery, a waterfall, and a gorgeous forested experience.

With a 10-mile out-and-back trail, you can cut your journey to the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It follows the Pemigewasset River over generally level ground. You could even capture the Franconia Falls in an ice-free fall if you visit during the right time of year!

Bondcliffs and Thirteen Falls Campsite are popular wilderness spots, but tourists flock to Franconia Falls in the summer for good reason. This is definitely one of our favorite hikes in NH during the summer months.

The Eastside and Lincoln Woods trails connect with numerous others, including Osseo, Bondcliff, Wilderness, and Cedar Brook.

8. Sugarloaf

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Sugarloaf

A hiker’s paradise, Sugarloaf is one of four 4,000-foot summits in the Carrabassett Valley, with lots of moderate trails into the foothills.

You will enjoy a 360-degree vista from the 3,600′ Burnt Mountain peak, including the snowfields of Sugarloaf on its eastern side and the Carrabassett River Valley communities.

From Mountainside Road, take Bigelow Mountain Road to the trailhead. The 3-mile track traverses a streambed and includes one fairly steep segment before reaching the wide top covered in lush alpine grass.

The Middle and North Sugarloaf Trails provide spectacular views of the White Mountains with an intermediate level of effort. This 6.6-mile moderate trek offers breathtaking sights of the White Mountains and the Presidential Range on a bright day.

7. Welch and Dickey

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Welch and Dickey

The Welch-Dickey trail is famous for its quick access to beautiful vistas. Through shady hardwood forests, the track eventually opens up to expansive views.

In the summer, you can pick wild berries on the way up. This hike requires some rock scrambling, so wear your suitable footwear. Yellow markers highlight the trail – the upper course has rock scrambles and ledges.

The Welch and Dickey Loop is a little more complicated but shorter than other hikes in NH. This challenging 4-mile loop offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains as you climb up both Welch and Dickey Mountains.

6. Ripley Falls

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Ripley Falls

Ripley Falls is a 100-foot waterfall with a smooth granite face. Because the rock wall is at a 60-degree angle, the flowing water makes contact most of the way down.

The falls are in Crawford Notch State Park, and you can reach it through the trailhead off of Highway 302. The trailhead parking is well indicated from the roadway. The trail is 1.2 miles round way, making it great short trek during the summer.

Hiking to Ripley Falls takes only 10-20 minutes one way and 20-40 minutes roundtrip.

Despite its shortness, this path is more suitable for adults and older children due to its problematic footing and steepness. The steep 100ft trail of water cascading over the rocks is worth the short journey and is really gorgeous!

5. West Rattlesnake Mountain

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: West Rattlesnake Mountain

West Rattlesnake Mountain and the trails are kept up by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and managed by the Squam Lakes Conservation Society.

To park, follow signage, and only park in designated areas – parking can be pretty strict.

A combination of flat and gentle slopes takes you to the summit along the Old Bridle Path. The 2-mile round trip hike to West Rattlesnake Mountain’s rock outcrops is great for novices, families, and anyone searching for a short walk with a spectacular view.

The rocks provide lots of room to stretch out and enjoy a spectacular view of Squam Lake and its surroundings. The red pine, red oak, and staghorn sumac trees dominate the forested vegetation now. Douglas’ knotweed, a rare plant found only in a few places in New Hampshire, grows near the viewpoint.

Those who choose to trek farther might continue over the crest to East Rattlesnake Mountain or descend to Five Finger Point.

4. Pitcher Mountain

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Pitcher Mountain

Pitcher Mountain offers a short trek with a spectacular view for all ages. Choose from a 0.7-mile loop or an out-and-back hike to the 2,153 feet summit.

On the white trail, there is a broad sandy and gravel road. It is a relatively easy route, and it is good in the winter, even with snow and ice. The blue path is shorter but steeper and more rugged.

Pitcher Mountain’s peak provides New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts views. You can view adjacent fields, Mount Monadnock, the Green Mountains, and the White Mountains in clear weather. You can also see and learn from the 1915 fire tower, which is still maintained.

The top ridge is also covered with blueberry and raspberry patches, which are lovely when ripe. While most of the berry-growing land is private, the public can pick berries on the mountain for a small fee.

3. Red Hill

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: Red Hill

Red Hill is a popular family trek with a great view. Native American hunting grounds cleared meadows and agriculture, and a forested slope with a leisure trail are all part of this mountain.

The Red Hill Trail enters the woods for about 0.3 miles before meeting up with the Cabin Trail. Although this intersection is now forested, the sign suggests it was initially cleared as part of the Horne family farm. Take one trail to the peak and return via the other to complete a nice little circle.

This is a lovely NH hiking spot in the fall because the leaves are truly beautiful, plus it’s a mild little trail, great for families.

2. The Carters

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: The Carters

The Carter Range, located in northeastern New Hampshire, is not as well-known as Mount Washington, but it offers a unique vista of the Presidential Range. Peakbaggers will cross three 4,000-footers off their lists in New England and New Hampshire on this hike.

For a short while, Nineteen Mile Brook Trail follows the brook as it ascends from its trailhead on NH-16. There are lots of places to fill up on water or cool down during the summer.

The stream is strong, and there are rapids and minor falls. You will need snowshoes for this trek during the colder months; microspikes may be sufficient if there is little snow on the track, but snowshoes are better suited to fresh or thick snow.

The first crossroad is at 2,300 feet. The Nineteen Mile Brook Trail goes to the Carter Lakes and Carter Notch, while the Carter Dome Trail leads directly to the Carter Ridge. Both are viable possibilities. The climb from Carter Notch Hut to Carter Dome is more challenging and slippery in the winter; you may need a 10-point crampons.

Take the Appalachian Trail north over Carter Dome from the hut. You’ll reach Zeta Pass if you follow the crest. This journey will need another 900 feet of elevation gain to Carter Dome, then a return trip via Mount Hight.

Carter Dome, at 4,832 feet, is the range’s highest point and New England’s tenth-highest mountain. In addition to the summit, numerous short herd paths connect to ledges or clearings with great views, notably toward the Presidential Range in the west. You can also find fantastic views to the south into Carter Notch and the Wildcat Mountains, the Carter Range’s southern part.

The Carter Range’s additional peaks are north of Zeta Pass. The Carter Dome path descends directly to the pass, whereas the Appalachian Trail passes Mount Hight (4,675 feet). It’s one of New Hampshire’s highest points, but it’s too near to Carter Dome to count on its own. However, it has the finest views of the mountain, so don’t miss it.

1. The Signal Ridge and Mount Carrigain

Must-do and best hikes in New Hampshire: The Signal Ridge and Mount Carrigain

Signal Ridge and Mount Carrigain provide spectacular views of the White Mountains without the crowds. Mount Carrigain, at 4,700 feet, is the state’s 13th-highest 4,000-footer, so trust me: these views are incredible!

The trailhead is across a seasonal dirt road from a vast parking lot. While it meanders along and over Carrigain Brook, the Signal Ridge Trail is relatively simple.

Bear left at the trail intersection with the Carrigain Notch Trail to avoid beavers and moose in the flat, swampy stretch soon after the crossing. After this intersection, the climb gradually gains most of the height.

The view from the crest of Mount Lowell, Mount Washington, and other White Mountain summits is worth the effort. The observation tower atop Mount Carrigain offers a 360-degree panorama of the Presidential Range, the Franconia Ridge, Mount Chocorua, and more.

The ancient fire warden’s cottage is gone, but an old well is visible as you rise. A road ascended to the top of the cabin and observation tower and many of the paths in the region are former logging roads.

You definitely want to plan your New Hampshire hiking itinerary before you set off. Many state parks provide online parking reservations, otherwise, you’ll need to figure out where to park. Some parks do not accept dogs while others don’t, so plan accordingly.

This list of New Hampshire’s top hikes can help you plan your journey. With almost enough trails to fill a whole year, these are just some of our favorite ones to get you started.

Bring your camera, dress for the weather, and enjoy Mother Nature at her best!

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