Your guide to exploring New Hampshire’s natural caves

Your guide to exploring New Hampshire’s natural caves

Photo courtesy of Joshua Sortino via Unsplash.

By Stacy Milbouer

July 1, 2024

Hot summer? There are hundreds of cool caves just waiting to be explored in New Hampshire.

It’s hot out there. Why not head to the hills, specifically to some of New Hampshire’s cool, dark caves?

In addition to a few well-known visitor attractions like Lost River Gorge and the Polar Caves, the state has hundreds of less-known, natural, boulder and glacial caves along the thousands of miles of hiking trails in the state. Here are some just waiting to be spelunked.

Devils’ Den Cave

Inside Pawtuckaway State Park in the Merrimack Valley is Devil’s Den Cave.

The park, which can be found at 128 Mountain Rd. in Nottingham, is home to more than 30 caves. However, Devil’s Den is definitely the granddaddy of them all. It’s situated at the northern point of North Mountain Loop Trail where glacial erratics — large boulders deposited at the end of the Ice Age — are scattered. The cave was formed by a large crack in the rocks.

Raymond Cliff and Cave

Also in the Merrimack Valley is Raymond Cliff and Cave in Weare. The cave can be found on the 0.9-mile (2,000-step) Raymond Cliff Trail near Everett station. 

Raymond Cave is made up of enormous, angular blocks that have fallen from the cliff above, and its opening is large enough for a person to stand up. It’s also “very cold in summer” according to The History of Weare, New Hampshire 1735-1888. It sounds like a nice escape from the sun during a day of summer exploring!

Caves in the White Mountains

The White Mountains are a perfect destination for caving.

Franconia Notch State Park contains the hidden gem called Boise Rock, named after the legendary Thomas Boise, who reportedly traveled through the notch on his horse-driven sled in the early 1800s during a ferocious snowstorm. The story goes that the teamster fought off freezing to death by skinning his horse, wearing its hide, and sheltering under a rocky overhang where he was found alive, underneath the frozen horse blanket the next day.

Another cave in Franconia Notch State Park is Bear’s Den, an impressive rocky fissure cave at the top of Flume Gorge

Cilley’s Cave

Cilley’s Cave, along Cilley’s Cave Spur Trail in Mount Cardigan (in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region), is a natural rock formation in the Littleton schists (course, metamorphic rocks). It’s about one and one-quarter miles north of the mountain summit.

According to New Hampshire spelunkers, the cave can be somewhat tricky to find (but is worth it once you do!).

Mine Ledge Caves

The Monadnock Region contains Mine Ledge Caves, near Madame Sherri Forrest in Chesterfield. This spot on the slope of Wantastiquet (Rattle Snake) Mountain, is a twofer. You not only get to explore the small caves but they’re situated right behind the ruins of this once palatial estate named for its former owner — Madame Antoinette Sherri, a Paris-born theatrical costume designer who threw lavish, Gatsby-like parties here in the 1920s.

Carnonneau Cave

In the Lakes Region, you’ll find Carbonneau Cave on Mount Anna, which is in the Belknap Range along Alton Mountain Rd. Alton is a large fissure in a granite formation at the base of a substantial cliff.

Fellow explorers have noted that if you explore the cave on a rainy day, the pinch point might require some extra work to get through. They also say the cliff is perfect for scrambling!

What else to know

For a listing of more cave hiking trails in the state visit AllTrails.

Cave discovery in New Hampshire doesn’t take fancy equipment. Wear good hiking shoes and pack gear you’d normally take for outdoor adventuring.  Or follow the “National Park Service List of Essentials,” which suggests navigation equipment (a map, compass, GPS device), sun protection, insulation (jacket, hat, gloves), illumination (flashlight, headlamp extra batteries), first-aid kit, a lighter or matches, knife, extra food and water, a tarp or blanket. It might also be wise to throw in some rope.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Your guide to exploring New Hampshire’s natural cavesYour guide to exploring New Hampshire’s natural caves


  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.

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