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The New Hampshire Adventure Guide also explores the best dining options (usually off the beaten track), including small town bakeries where the steaming hot bread is to die for! Lodging choices are also profiled. 40 detailed maps plus photos throughout. Fully indexed.
The White Mountains
With its snowy peak towering to 6,288 feet above sea level, Mt. Washington is the highest mountain in the Northeast. Craggy, unpredictable underfoot, and beset by dangerously shifting weather that includes the highest land winds measured worldwide, Mt. Washington is the symbol of high adventure for visitors to New Hampshire. Cars bearing the bumper sticker "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" boast about having climbed the winding and precipitous auto road that has brought excursion travelers for more than a century to the windswept summit. Hikers who have climbed the mountain, foot by foot, don�t wear the bumper sticker or any other outward notice, but inwardly they are often marked: The experience of walking above the treeline under fierce skies changes many perspectives.
Around this landmark mountain is the White Mountain National Forest, and around and within the forest are adventures that range from waterfall hikes to snowshoe rambles, from whitewater canoeing to wilderness birdwatching, from steep and twisting mountain-bike trails to scenic road tours. New Hampshire residents have welcomed guests since the first farmhouses opened the back bedrooms to travelers arriving on horseback. Accommodations include the grandeur of the Mt. Washington Hotel and Bretton Woods, the hundreds of cozy bed and breakfast inns, and the spartan hiking and hunting lodges tucked into the folds of the mountain range. Whether you�re asking directions from your host, or questioning a national forest ranger about the avalanche danger or bears, or discovering treasures in an antique shop owned by a family that�s held the same land since it was first settled, you�re likely to find a warm welcome.
Considering the White Mountains region in terms of access to adventure travel means looking at it in terms of river valleys and "notches," those places in the mountain range where the land dips down and forms a V-shaped passage between the peaks as if a giant ax blade had notched the land. To the west is the Connecticut River Valley: Flat to rolling farmland enfolds towns whose history goes back well before the American Revolution. Haverhill, Woodsville, and Bath lie peacefully in this river valley, along with Littleton, Bethlehem, Sugar Hill and Franconia, and Whitefield, busy gateway towns from the Connecticut River to the national forest. This area was home to New England�s best loved poet, Robert Frost; the stone walls winding along the edges of the fields and the leaf-sheltered trails all recall his phrases, and New Hampshire has even adopted its newest tourist slogan from one of his poems: "The Road Less Traveled."
In Franconia Notch is the Old Man of the Mountain, the rock formation that became the state�s symbol of independence; the Flume (one of several in the state, but this one is two miles long!) is also in this notch. Crawford Notch, farther to the east, was opened to settlement before the Revolutionary War and, thanks to Abel Crawford and his son Ethan Allen Crawford, became a cradle of the modern hiking and environmental movement. Pinkham Notch is at the foot of Mt. Washington itself, land of high adventure for hikers, rock climbers, and now mountain bikers, as well as skiers and snowshoe explorers. The Mt. Washington Valley and the wild lands along the Kancamagus Highway make up the eastern and southern borders of the region. And little-known Evans Notch, shared with the state of Maine, has probably the most challenging hiking in New Hampshire.
The White Mountain National Forest
Exploration of the White Mountains was reported in 1643 when Darby Field became the first non-native person to climb Mt. Washington. Farmers were among the first settlers of the region in the late 1700s, and scientists and artists quickly followed. By the 1850s, thousands were visiting the area each year for scenic travel, and grand hotels were built to serve the passengers that the railroad could bring.
But the railroads also brought a way to transport lumber, and a short 50 years later many of the mountains had been ruthlessly stripped of timber and ravaged by fire, as errant sparks from the locomotives touched off the dry mounds of brush left behind by the loggers. Congressman John Wingate Weeks joined a coalition of citizens� groups, most importantly the newly born Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF), to encourage creation of preserves in the region. Passage of the Weeks Act in 1911 allowed the federal government, for the first time, to purchase privately held land. With the SPNHF gathering preservable and vulnerable land areas as quickly as possible, nuclei for the national forest formation arose.
Now the White Mountain National Forest includes nearly 800,000 acres, some in Maine but mostly in New Hampshire. There are over 1,200 miles of trails, along with backcountry shelters, campgrounds, and picnic areas. Some of the most ecologically fragile areas, in wetlands or at the high peaks of mountains, have been further protected as restricted-use areas, where even foot travelers make a difference in species survival by where they place their boots.
Primitive camping is allowed throughout the forest, except in the restricted-use areas, where campers need to stay within designated tenting boundaries. Fires are also banned from restricted areas, and dry weather often raises fire danger enough to advise all hikers and campers to not offer any sparks to the woods around them. But these are really the only restrictions to backcountry use. Hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are welcomed. Snowmobilers and mountain bikers are encouraged to stay with established trails some of them designated for these sports in order to protect plant life and coordinate use with other trail users. There are six alpine ski areas, as well as the world famous Tuckerman Ravine, where well-equipped and trained skiers can enjoy this "extreme" sport and learn to deal with avalanche danger. Rock and ice climbing are possible in most areas of the forest, with Cathedral Ledge in the North Conway area and Eagle Cliffs in Franconia Notch especially well-known.
There are four designated wilderness areas within the New Hampshire section of the White Mountain National Forest: Pemigewasset (45,000 acres), Presidential Range-Dry River (27,380 acres), Sandwich Range (25,000 acres), and the Great Gulf at the north side of Mt. Washington (12,000 acres). No vehicles are allowed in these, in order to protect and preserve the sense of wild natural areas.
Bear, moose, beaver, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, and occasionally a wolf or wildcat may be sighted in the forest. Hawks soar on the thermoclines, warblers call from the trees in lower elevations, and crows and blue jays show off their social skills to campers as well as to each other. Fishing is superb; hunting and fishing are both regulated by state seasons and rules, but may take place throughout the forest.
The White Mountain National Forest is a year-round adventure paradise, full of challenges and scenic rewards. Balancing the hunger for wilderness with the need for trail access and local uses that may include timber harvest is a complex business; voice an opinion or seek one in a local general store and you�ll be in discussion for hours. Yet the richness of the trails and the overwhelming beauty of the area are beyond debate. All travelers who enter the region have the opportunity to help preserve it for their own use and for the future.
A quick look at the major highways will show the complexity of getting around the mountain peaks. Pull out a map to follow along, as the roads form a series of interconnected loops giving access to the best of the mountain and river scenery.
Visitors arriving from the Boston area or from the trim little airport at Manchester are likely to head north on Interstate 93, which passes by the cities to the south, then the Lakes Region, and crosses into the White Mountains Region just as it reaches Campton, a small town best known for being the turnoff to Waterville Valley a busy mountain resort on its own road, Route 49. The White Mountain National Forest boundaries are just beyond Campton. Staying with Interstate 93, the next major town is Woodstock, followed by the paired towns of Lincoln and North Woodstock. Lincoln is a busy summer and winter resort town. Here are the bike and ski shops as well as antique and handicraft galleries, restaurants, and lodging that mark the western center of the region. Roads to the west of Lincoln lead to Mt. Moosilauke, a challenging hiker�s mountain with peak elevation of 4,810 feet, and to the valley of the Wild Ammonoosuc River, a favorite for spring whitewater. To the east is the Kancamagus Highway, a 34½-mile wild stretch of Route 112 where every turn of the road seems to shelter a trailhead for hiking or snowshoeing into the Pemigewasset Wilderness. At the end of this beautiful stretch of road is Conway: the southern town of the ski center formed by Conway, North Conway, and Jackson, traveling north on Route 16. Beyond Jackson is Pinkham Notch, home of the Appalachian Mountain Club�s base camp for treks up Mt. Washington and into famous Tuckerman Ravine, where snow may last until July and hikers check for avalanche conditions before setting out in the morning.
The north end of Pinkham Notch is at the town of Gorham. Here Route 16 meets Route 2, and restaurants and lodging again cluster. To the east of Route 16 is a stretch of the White Mountain National Forest that includes the difficult hiking and climbing of Evans Notch, on the border with the state of Maine. Route 2 west from Gorham traces the upper boundary of the main block of national forest acreage, meeting in Randolph the major trailhead called Appalachia, north of Mt. Washington and its massive neighbors, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Madison.
Eight miles west of Randolph, Route 2 passes through Jefferson Highlands, where Route 115 offers a scenic shortcut back toward Interstate 93. But if you want to explore Crawford Notch instead of taking Route 115 all the way to the interstate, there�s a left turn onto Route 302, where a scenic railway still rises along the craggy cliffs. You can take 302 all the way to North Conway, closing a tight circle around the ski center; or you can return to where you picked up Route 302 just south of Route 115�s intersection with Route 2, and head west instead. Here again are two choices: stay with Route 302 into the old resort town of Bethlehem for a good dinner and maybe go on to Whitefield�s nightlife afterward, or accept the southwestward twists of Route 2 toward Interstate 93. When you reach the interstate, the northbound side heads up to elegant Franconia and its historic and lovely companion town, Sugar Hill, and to Littleton, another good place for supper and entertainment. On the other hand, the southbound side of Interstate 93 turns into the Franconia Notch Parkway. Here is the Old Man of the Mountain, as well as a spectacular gorge called The Flume, and trailheads for dozens more of the mountain paths. The southern end of the narrow Parkway expands again into the familiar interstate lanes of Interstate 93 and returns to Lincoln.
The adventures that follow lead from each of the notches into the high mountains, followed by a ramble along the officially dedicated Scenic Byway of the Kancamagus Highway with its ranger station, varied trails, and wild river valley.
? On Foot
Campton and Waterville Valley
One of the most family-friendly hikes in the White Mountains starts in Waterville Valley and includes two small mountains, Welch and Dickey. Although the peaks are only 2,605 and 2,734 feet high, the views are great and the trails moderate. Even a six-year-old can complete this loop with exhilaration. The loop is 4.4 miles and takes 3½ to 5 hours, depending on kids, birdwatching stops, and how hard you want to push up and down the slopes (surprise, the kids may push faster than you do!). It�s an especially good hike for late summer, say August, when the blueberries are ripe. If you�re short on time, you can just hike up Welch and back down again in an hour.
? CAUTION: Both Welch and Dickey mountains have bare rocky slopes in places, so don�t hike them in wet or icy weather. They get slippery!
From Interstate 93, take Exit 28 and drive through the tourist-welcoming village of Campton (plenty of restaurants and inns) along Route 49. In 4.4 miles turn left onto the Upper Mad River Road, which crosses Six Mile Bridge and goes steeply uphill. Check mileage at the bridge to measure .7 miles to a right turn (onto Orris Road) where a small sign may say Welch Mountain Trail. Parking is another .7 miles down the road. In the woods to the left, opposite where you entered the parking area, the two mountain trails meet. The right-hand one is the Welch Mountain Trail. Views along the way include the Mad River and Sandwich Mountain, and when you reach the summit you can see Mt. Tripyramid to the east, Mt. Moosilauke standing tallest to the west. To the north is Dickey Mountain, half a mile farther on the trail, which leads downward and then back up to the second peak. When you get to the summit of Dickey, be sure to go out onto the eastern rocky area for the great view up into Franconia Notch at the North Outlook. You can spot Mt. Lafayette, Lincoln, and The Flume to the east of the notch and Cannon Mountain at its west. Return to the summit of Dickey and take the "highway" direction that leads across an impressive rock slab and then down through the woods and back to the parking area. The stretch down from Dickey has plenty of wildflowers, and you may find blueberries here in late summer. This is a good place to let the kids pick berries, but also an opportunity for them to learn why not to pick the flowers (so many of them are rare, and especially on bare mountain slopes they struggle to survive).
For a generous listing of many more area hikes, long and short, visit Waterville Valley, 13 miles up Route 49 from Campton. This self-contained resort specializes in hiking and mountain biking in summer, and offers regular guided treks and rides into the surrounding mountains. At the Waterville Valley Base Camp you can find detailed trail maps. Three more short hikes in this area, designed especially for families with children, are found in Robert Buchsbaum�s book Nature Hikes in the White Mountains. Trail information and the map "Hiking Trails of the Waterville Valley" are also found in Waterville Valley at the Jugtown store and at the service station on Tripoli Road across from the Waterville Campground.
For a longer hike especially good in early spring before the higher mountains have lost their snow cover, consider Mt. Tecumseh (summit 4,003 feet). This is a 4.3-mile hike that will take about four hours. Use the AMC White Mountain Guide for this trail and for its neighbor, the Mt. Osceola Trail (summit 4,340 feet the highest in the area, with superb views); both have ends on the Tripoli Road, which cuts to the left from Route 49 about 10 miles from Campton.
Lincoln & The Kancamagus Highway
Return to Interstate 93 from Waterville Valley and head north to Lincoln. Here Route 112 heads east under the name of the Kancamagus Highway, named for an Abenaki chief whose name meant The Fearless One. You don�t have to be fearless to take the many hiking trails that lead from this highway, though. Just cruise through the resort town and head up the flank of Mt. Kancamagus on Route 112 (the road rises to 3,000 feet elevation here). You�ll pass Loon Mountain Recreation Area (in winter a ski slope, in summer a superb mountain-biking area; there�s also space for plenty of performance events) and enter the White Mountain National Forest. Trailheads are scattered on both sides of the narrow two-lane highway, and there�s ample parking. To sort them all out will take some determined study with your AMC White Mountain Guide, so here are three of the best, one long and peaceful, one quite short but with a lovely waterfall, and one challenging hike up the slopes of Mt. Chocorua, which is one of the three mountains most often named for favorite climbs in the national forest.
The sign for the Greeley Ponds Scenic Area is modest, so start keep an eye out to the right of the highway. When you see the turn for East Pond, Greeley is another mile along, at 9½ miles from Lincoln. Parking is off the road. The entire trail is actually five miles long, reaching the Waterville Valley area, but hiking from the Kancamagus to the Greeley Ponds themselves is just about two miles each way. Walking time is about 2½ hours. (There is swimming at the upper pond from sandy beaches if you like a nice interlude on a hot summer day.) You�ll enter a fragile environment of peaceful ponds, beavers, warblers and white-throated sparrows (listen for the end of the call, three notes at the same pitch) singing from the trees, and reflections of the nearby cliffs and of the spruces and pointed firs. To add a little spice to the hike, continue past the ponds up the steep Mt. Osceola Trail for about a half-mile to reach the ledges (rocky, so don�t climb them when they�re wet or icy), where you can take in a quiet view of the lake below.
From the roadside trailhead for Greeley Ponds, drive another 10.3 miles eastward (toward Conway) on the Kancamagus Highway to reach the turn for Sabbaday Falls. Don�t miss this one, even though it�s rarely a private place; even with a summer-afternoon throng of visitors, these falls are worth seeing. It�s a mile from the picnic area to the falls, which include a deep clear pool, a fierce cascade that rushes into a narrow gorge called a "flume," and a cool woodsy walk up well-crafted steps to the top of the falls where you can see how deeply the rushing waters have chiseled the stone.
? CAUTION: If you�re on the walk to Sabbaday Falls with young children, beware of the alluring, climbable railings along the cascade; there�s a rocky dropoff.
From Sabbaday Falls, if you hike southward on the Sabbaday Brook Trail, you�ll enter the Sandwich Range Wilderness. This is a restricted-use area, where no camping or fires are allowed and hikers are expected to help keep the forest looking as untouched by humans as possible. The most interesting landform in this wilderness area is The Bowl, a glacial cirque, best hiked to from Wonalancet, a small town south of the national forest border. See the AMC White Mountain Guide for details.
The approach to Mt. Chocorua is near the eastern end of the Kancamagus Highway. The mountain�s pointed rock pinnacle stands out from a distance, and many hikers approach it from Route 16 near Chocorua village. But the approach from the Kancamagus takes you past Champney Falls and the ledges of the Piper Trail before you reach the challenging rocky slopes of Mt. Chocorua. Daniel Doan, in his book 50 More Hikes in New Hampshire, recommends a loop trail from the Kancamagus that avoids having to retrace your steps, but still puts you back on the highway a hundred feet from where you left it. Consult Doan�s book for more detail if you like, or the AMC Chocorua-Waterville Map (Map 7) that comes with the AMC White Mountain Guide.
Basically, the route is south along the Champney Brook Trail (trailhead 11½ miles from Conway, or roughly 21 miles from Lincoln, on the south side of Route 112), past Champney Falls (reached by a short bypass found 1.25 miles from the start of the trail beware of slippery rocks and don�t try climbing the water chute), and up the steep northeastern side of the mountain. When Middle Sister Trail comes in from the left, Champney Brook Trail wings to the right and you go with it over a ledge marked with yellow blazes, entering a spruce and fir woods. Take another turn to the right onto the Piper Trail, which crosses the Liberty Trail and (with more yellow blazes) takes you into the alpine zone of rare miniature plants and then up a steep 50-yard craggy climb to the summit.
Views include Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range to the north, and to the west the Sandwich Range. The climb is worth it! Legend says these were the last views seen by Chocorua, who lived in the area around 1760 and may have been a chief of the Ossipee Tribe; he is said to have been killed on the summit as part of a blood retribution for other deaths. When you�re done pondering his sad end, and the glorious vista, retrace the trail to the junction of trails at the broken ledge and take the trail on the left, descending. This leads into the Bee Line Trail in about 25 minutes, through scrub spruce and over and open ledge (stick with those yellow blazes). Now there�s a trail junction again, and you head to the right onto Bee Line until you reach the next trail junction, with a right again onto the Bolles Trail so that you�re headed north down Paugus Brook and Twin Brook to the highway; a right turn at the road returns you to where you parked.
? CAUTION: Because this route takes you up and down some steep rocky areas, don�t hike it during rain or when the ground is icy. "Discretion is the better part of valor," they say; Chocorua might have learned the lesson if he�d lived longer himself.
A Note on the Pemigewasset Wilderness: The "Pemi" Wilderness lies north of the Kancamagus Highway, toward the west (Lincoln) side of the area. It is still a wilderness in the national forest sense of the term, meaning that no vehicles are allowed in it (that means mountain bikes, too). But some parts of it are unlikely to provide much taste of the lonely wild mountains these days, as it has been "over-discovered" by hikers, especially along the trails leading toward the Flume and Mt. Lafayette, as well as Thoreau Falls and the Wilderness Trail. If you plan a hike into this area and want a taste of the wild, consider Lincoln Brook, Cedar Brook, and Twin Brook areas, where there�s more solitude. And aim for midweek in the spring, late fall, or winter.
WHAT�S A WILDERNESS?
Sure, you already know: A place where there aren�t other people, where there are wild animals, and where you might get lost. New Hampshire�s national forest rangers add a few more ideas: A wilderness preserves the primitive environment. And it requires anyone who exists in it to depend exclusively on his or her own efforts for survival. The four New Hampshire designated wilderness areas provide a taste of this way of life, giving hikers privacy and an illusion of being very far away from populated areas. (If you do get lost, you�ll find out how far that can feel.)
But wilderness areas today are becoming more frequently visited, and increasingly "touched by human hands" after all. You can help preserve wilderness areas by practicing "leave no trace" hiking and camping.
? Carry out everything you carry in. Bury human waste with a small spade, a minimum of 200 feet from water.
? Speak quietly, move softly, and leave radios at home.
? Travel in small groups, and travel light.
? Wear "earth colors" to be less distracting to other hikers; use this notion for your tent and gear, too.
? Avoid hiking in mud season when spring rains soften the trails. And try not to take shortcuts that will create more paths through the trees.
? Luring wild animals to a campsite is generally a mistake. When bears lose their fear of humans and associate food with people, they become dangerous and may have to be relocated or destroyed. Hang food at least 10 feet off the ground, stored in closed containers.
? Rangers suggest that you leave your dog at home. If you do bring a dog, keep it leashed, and remember that a dog not accustomed to climbing and hiking is going to get tired and sore, just like a human who is not used to such activities. The bigger the dog, the more weight you might have to carry out of the woods if your pet can�t handle the trail!
Conway, North Conway, Intervale
It�s worth mentioning Conway as the site of the ranger station at the east end of the Kancamagus Highway, and also the start of horrendous traffic jams on summer afternoons. Try really hard to get through this town in the early morning or the evening. There are dozens of outlet stores lining Route 16 from Conway to North Conway, and then a fascinating village of shops, sightseeing, and good food in North Conway; the traffic drawn by all these has never been properly managed.
Behind the ranger station is Moat Mountain, where rockhounds are welcome to gather smoky quartz and other minerals for personal use (not for sale). Hand tools only, please, and fill any holes, restoring the area�s natural appearance. From the Saco Ranger Station, head over to Route 16 north and at the first traffic light turn left onto West Side Road. After 0.7 mile turn left on Passaconaway Road and go 1.2 miles to High Street (unmarked dirt road) on right. Make the turn and go 1.9 miles (should be mineral collecting site signs) to a parking area at the end of the road. Hike three-fourths of a mile up the marked trail to the mountain site.
There�s also a little-known hiking area in Conway called the Green Hills Preserve (2,822 acres), managed by the Nature Conservancy. From Conway, head north along Route 302 past the malls and toward North Conway village, watching the roads on the right; you want Artist Falls Road, which turns into Thompson Road. There�s parking before the end of the road (the parking at the very end is private); walk to the end and find the kiosk for information and a trail map. The trails range from 1.1 to 2.1 miles in length, and include a unique high-elevation stand of red pine forest, as well as a rare plant community on Peaked Mountain. Obviously, for protection of this vulnerable area, only foot travel is allowed, and no fires or camping are permitted.
North Conway is the home of at least three mountain sports shops, which offer expert assistance and gear for rock climbing. No wonder: Cathedral and White Horse Ledges are just north of town, offering superb climbing, with steep faces drenched in sunlight to counter the deep chill of the rock.
? CAUTION: Rock climbers should take these ledges seriously in spite of their popularity as training slopes; there are many difficult routes up the rock walls.
Stop at Eastern Mountain Sports at the north end of the village (left side of the road in a huge white building that�s a resort hotel), just before the left turn to Echo Lake State Park where the ledges are, and check the latest conditions and routes before climbing. At EMS you can also find Ed Webster�s book Rock Climbs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a must-read for technical (hardware-based) climbs. If you�re looking for a more relaxed hike, try the pleasant trails in this state park and enjoy watching the climbing teams scale the rock faces.
When you leave North Conway on Route 16, headed north toward the other great notches (Pinkham, Crawford), the first village you enter is Intervale. Note the scenic overlook on the left side of the road, with its view of Cathedral Ledge, and pull in for a moment to get oriented. The two roads cross the highway. One is across from the south exit of the scenic rest area, next to the little Intervale post office that�s part of a strip of food stores. This road is the Intervale Cross Road; it leads to an old Abenaki Indian encampment (see Sightseeing). The other road is farther north, just beyond the north exit of the scenic rest area, and is Hurricane Mountain Road. This leads to two good hiking trails and some fine rockhounding, where even a beginner may find smoky quartz and zircons (Black Cap Mountain), as well as arfvedstonite in quartz with feldspar (Hurricane Mountain). Follow Hurricane Mountain Road east 3.7 miles from Route 16 to the two trailheads, across the road from each other. The Hurricane Mountain Trail is the one that leaves the north side of the road and goes half a mile to a wooded summit. The Black Cap Mountain Trail goes south instead, 1.1 miles to a summit with views.
? TIP: For rockhounding, simple tools like a hammer and chisel or prybar will likely be enough. Be kind to those who follow you and close up any holes you make as you explore.
? New England Hiking Holidays has its office in North Conway, and offers a spectacular five-day tour of the White Mountains for hikers who like the relaxation and relative luxury of fine inns each evening. The tour is repeated a number of times each summer and fall, and reservations are needed (New England Hiking Holidays, PO Box 1648, North Conway, NH 03860; 800-869-0949 or 356-9696; e-mail NEHH@ aol.com).
This gracious village is a base for both Black Mountain Ski Area and hikers and skiers headed up to Pinkham Notch. It�s also where the trails to Mt. Doublehead start, headed for the north and south summits. David Doan (50 More Hikes in New Hampshire) tells of a good loop trail that includes the two wooded summits and the views along the way. There�s a sturdy hand-built cabin at the north summit. Doan gives an interesting description of how ski trails were once built. The four-mile loop takes a bit more than three hours if you�re in good shape. If you�d rather relax for a while, stroll around Jackson and enjoy the covered bridge, park, and gentle New England scenery. In winter this is a picture-postcard village; it�s nearly as good in the other seasons too.
BACK-COUNTRY CABIN RENTALS
By pre-arrangement (at least 14 days in advance) with the Saco Ranger Station, you can pick up keys to either of two back-country cabins. One is on the west side of Black Mountain, reached by hiking 1.4 or 2½ miles (depending on route) from the Black Mountain Ski Trail. The other is on the east side of North Doublehead Mountain, where the access hike is 1.8 miles from either of two established larger trails. These are great winter bivouac spots for snowshoeing and Nordic ski hiking. Get details on the cabins from the ranger station at Saco Ranger District, 33 Kancamagus Highway, North Conway, NH 03818 ( 447-5448).
Mt. Washington is not the only massive mountain worth climbing in New Hampshire; its neighbors are nearly as tall, and some of the lesser-known peaks like Diamond and Percy have challenges, as does Evans Notch. But let�s face it, there�s a special appeal to climbing the tallest peak in the state, and the mountain is also known for its capricious and sometimes life-threatening ways. Hikers have died here, victims of drastic weather and slippery rock. But many more hikers have found fresh excitement and delight on these trails. Take precautions, go well prepared, don�t hike Mt. Washington alone (really), and enjoy every bit of it.
Mt. Washington reaches 6,288 feet in elevation at the peak, where there is a summit building with food service, public restrooms, telephone, and a post office. No overnight stays are possible at the summit. There is also a weather observatory for what may be the "worst weather in the world" (winter wind chill has been known to match Antarctica�s!). Even in summer the temperatures at the summit may be in the 40s in the daytime; at night frost or snow can arrive year-round. There are three basic ways to reach the summit: ride on the coal-powered cog railway that ascends the west slope (this has its own excitement, as the slope is steep and the trestles narrow); drive up in your car on the Auto Road (be ready for tight turns, steep grades, and have good brakes for the trip back down); or hike the trails. Variations include purchasing a ride up in a van at Great Glen Trails, mountain biking up the Auto Road and, believe it or not, running there�s a road race on the mountain every summer!
Pinkham Notch is the spot where many Mt. Washington area hikes begin. Appropriately, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has a base camp right by the highway, about nine miles north of Jackson on Route 16. Start your hike with a thorough study of the AMC White Mountain Guide section on these trails, and a visit to the base camp for maps and gear recommendations. It�s called Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and includes a Trading Post with books, maps, and a three-dimensional contour model of the mountain, a lodge with library and meeting rooms, a snack bar, and AMC offices. In the summer there are frequent naturalist-led rambles and lectures. Downstairs are restrooms, showers, and a pack room where backpackers can get reorganized. There�s a hiker shuttle van that connects trailheads if you don�t want to hike a loop; ask at the upstairs desk for the schedule.
? TIP: The ranger station at the north end of Pinkham Notch, just outside Gorham (Androscoggin Ranger Station), has a great display of necessary hiking clothes and tells you why you�ll need them.
If you plan a winter hike, it would also be a good idea to visit the ranger station at the north end of Route 16 (just south of Gorham) and watch the video on Tuckerman Ravine; you�ll be better prepared for what to expect. Take the weather seriously, and pack according to the following tips.
TIPS FOR DAY-CLIMBING
ON MT. WASHINGTON
? Never climb above the treeline in sneakers or other "ordinary" shoes. The rocks will hurt your feet, and the footing is treacherous without sturdy, built-for-mountains soles. Get a good pair of hiking boots. They�ll last for years, and cost less than the deductible on your health insurance. With them you should buy two pairs of socks: polypropylene "liner" socks, which feel great against the skin and help wick moisture away, and wool socks, which cushion and keep your feet warm. The combination of the two pairs means that friction takes place between the socks, rather than between your foot and a sock, so you have much less chance of blisters. Be sure you try your boots with both pairs of socks to get the right size.
? Once you get above treeline (which is somewhere around 4,400 feet; Mt. Washington�s summit is 6,288), the weather can change drastically in as little as 15 minutes. It�s not unusual for a summer noontime hike to include thunderstorms, drenching rain, hail, and thick fog barely half an hour after a clear-sky start. Temperatures drop swiftly, and wind-chill can be deadly. Aim to stay warm and dry no matter what; then, should the worst happen and you find yourself lost or with a broken ankle, you�ll survive until help arrives. More likely, should you simply have the usual challenging weather, you�ll still be able to enjoy your hike.
? So indulge in today�s miracle fabrics: polypropylene long johns (no, cotton is not better, it soaks up moisture and stays wet and cold against you), a synthetic fleece-neck, zippered jacket for warmth, and real rain gear, not just windpants or windbreaker (the wind will blow the rain through these). Other handy layers are a wool sweater, a wool cap (yes, winter version), and mittens or gloves.
? Water is a must: When you hike vigorously, you sweat and breathe hard and lose moisture. A day�s hike means at least two quarts of water carried with you. (Ordinary plastic soft drink bottles with screw tops work well, but the ones with spouts could pop open easily and leak on your clothes.) No, you won�t have to go to the bathroom all the time you�re really using this water, and if you don�t drink it, you�ll get dehydrated, headachy, dizzy, or even sick. Also carry a protein-rich lunch, and several hearty snacks. Chocolate is still a great picker-upper, and granola bars will get you even farther. Dried fruit and nuts are reliable, too.
? Now add the things you�ve always heard of as survival gear: a pocket knife, compass, your guidebook and maps, a few first aid supplies (aspirin, Band-Aids), a small flashlight, and toilet paper. If you do use the toilet paper, follow the guidelines for "notrace" travel: Move off the trail and away from water sources, dig a small hole, and bury the waste thoroughly. Now you see another reason why you want to hike with a buddy: If you have to leave the trail for "the necessary," you have someone standing on it calling you back to the right spot.
? Biting insects won�t be a problem above treeline, but for the part of the trail that�s in the woods, especially in moist lowlands, bring some "bug dope." And if you are diabetic or allergic to bee-stings, carry the antidotes you need and let your hiking partner know where to find them in your pack in case you become disabled.
Although this sounds like a lot to tote along, in today�s backpacks with padded shoulder straps, waist belt, and chest strap, it�s very manageable. Remember, once you�ve eaten lunch and finished the first quart of water, the weight in the pack will be cut down! Winter hikes, or even those in early spring (May), need much more gear for weather protection and emergencies. Best suggestion: Try your first winter hike with an AMC-sponsored group or other experienced guide, so you can build your knowledge and skills without risking your life or the lives of the many volunteer rescuers on the mountain.
Two approaches to Mt. Washington are used most frequently: From the east, starting at the base camp at Pinkham Notch, hikers take the Tuckerman Ravine Trail 4.2 miles to the summit. From the west, the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail leaves the cog railway station and rises 3.1 miles to Lake of the Clouds Hut, where hikers connect with the Crawford Path for the remaining 1.4 miles to the summit. Don�t judge the trip by the number of miles, but by the rise in elevation: 4,000 feet. The round-trip will take at least eight hours for the reasonably fit person in good weather. Don�t take small children, and don�t try to hike this one without building up to it through other hikes.
The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is described here, and the western approach is in the Crawford Notch section later in this region. You�ll find the trailhead behind the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (and do check the weather at the peak by stopping at the center). You need to pay close attention to side trails and signs, because many paths split off from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, especially in the first quarter-mile. After 0.3 mile the trail crosses the Cutler River and begins to climb: the AMC White Mountain Guide calls it a "moderate but relentless" climb, but it�s steep enough that you�ll need hiking boots and you won�t want to be carrying on a conversation. There�s a good view of the Crystal Cascade before the trail cuts to the right (Boott Spur Trail goes left). You see the Huntington Ravine Trail cut to the right at 1.3 miles, while the Tuckerman goes on to cross first a tributary (at 1½ miles) and then the main branch (1.6 miles) of the Cutler River. Two more trails leave to the right: the Huntington ravine Fire Road (1.7 mile) and the Raymond Path (2.1); stay left. There�s a definite crossroads at 2.3 miles, with the Boott Spur Trail heading left, the Lion Head right, and you go straight ahead. You�ll reach the buildings at the floor of Tuckerman Ravine in another 0.1 mile, with great cliffs that you�re not going to climb this time. Instead, stay with your trail on the right (north) of the stream to pass through the upper floor of the ravine and reach the headwall. Be careful not to dislodge rocks underfoot; if you do start one rolling by accident, yell loudly to let other hikers know.
Now the trail simplifies a little, with a left turn at the top of the rock slope and a climb up a series of ledges. The Alpine Garden Trail cuts away to the right at 3.4 miles. You�ll see many of the flowering alpine plants along your own trail too; remember not to step on them if you can avoid it, as a plant just three or four inches tall may have taken 20 years or more to reach that height). Be careful at 3.4 miles to select the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, not the Tuckerman Crossover; your trail should cut sharply right to start up the steep rocks, where you need to watch closely for paint on the ledges and cairns (rock stacks) that mark the trail. Stick with them to the Auto Road a few yards before the parking area, and climb the wooden steps to the summit area.
? CAUTION: Bad weather on Mt. Washington only gets worse; don�t expect it to clear. If fog moves in, and you can see your way back down the trail accurately, go down. Don�t cause a rescue team to risk their lives to find you! You can always get to the summit another day; telling the story of having the weather close in on you will still put you into the group of Mt. Washington survivors, and you will have won a round on the mountain, not lost one.
There are many variations on this approach to the mountain, and many trails heading off to other spots worth visiting, like the Alpine Garden. Use the AMC White Mountain Guide to customize your plans.
Shorter hikes around Mt. Washington range from the 15-minute walk from Pinkham Visitor Center up to the Crystal Cascade (well marked, leaves from behind the visitor center), to the slightly longer trail to Glen Ellis Falls (drive 0.7 miles south of the visitor center on Route 16 and park in the marked area on the west side of the highway, where there are restrooms and a picnic area; walk through the tunnel under Route 16 and hike 0.3 miles to the base of the impressive falls). There�s also a nice ramble through the Alpine Garden high on the slope of Mt. Washington. The AMC offers guided Alpine Garden tours, well worth the effort and fee (about $60) for the expert botanist who�ll introduce you to the plants and their lives above the treeline. If you want to go on your own instead, stop at the visitor center and pick up a book on the plants. If you take the "short cut" by driving to the intersection of the Alpine Garden Trail with the Auto Road, you�ll want good hiking boots to explore the 300 feet of elevation changes on the rocky trail. And you�ll need all those pack items listed earlier, especially the rain gear. (Don�t let the idea of rain spoil your plan; you can still have a great time exploring the garden, if you�re dressed appropriately. Only thunderstorms and heavy fog will make the trip unwise.)
To reach the Alpine Garden Trail by car, stop at the visitor center to check on weather at the summit, then drive north on Route 16 for 2½ miles to the Mt. Washington Auto Road on your left. There�s a fee for use of the road, which is likely to change from year to year; anticipate spending at least $12 for car and driver, plus more per additional passenger. It�s worth it: eight miles of superb views, scary drop-offs but with the road well built and maintained. Look for Milepost 7, and then the Huntington Ravine Trail, which will be on your left; park here and hike the steep Huntington Ravine Trail down the mountain (not up yet!) for 0.3 mile to where it levels out and you turn right onto the Alpine Garden Trail. This is a relatively flat ramble of 1.2 miles across the garden, where you�ll struggle to step on stones rather than on the complex and delicate plants. Real botany is best done at plant level: Don�t hesitate to crouch, crawl, and lie down in order to see the intricacies of delicate flowers, tiny rootlets, and "pillow" growth patterns that have developed to make life possible on this wind-swept and icy region. If you make it the whole 1.2 miles you get to look down into Tuckerman Ravine, always awesome in its size and splendor, before you retrace the trail to the parking area. (If you don�t get that far, you�ll still have great views of the Carter Range to the east.) Mid-June is traditionally the best time to see blossoms in the Alpine Garden. Most common are diapensia, which grow in thick dark-green cushions with white five-petaled blossoms. But you can also spot Labrador tea, mountain avens, and dozens more curiously adapted plants; get that guidebook open and have fun!
? CAUTION: Don�t pick the plants here. Seriously, you�re looking at hundred-year struggles for existence. Hikers are the biggest threat these tiny miracles now face.
Another good hike for more ambitious walkers is the Old Jackson Road, which also leaves from behind the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and branches away from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. You�ll climb steadily for 1.9 miles to the trail�s end at the Auto Road, and can then head up the Madison Gulf Trail another 0.2 miles to Lowe�s Bald Spot, a superb place for views of the Great Gulf, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Madison. It�s a challenging hike that will take about four hours round-trip, mostly through woodlands until the final spectacular view.
Between the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and the town of Gorham to the north are more hiking trails, a ski area (Wildcat), and the region�s oldest campground, Dolly Copp. Use Gorham as your "base camp" town for hikes in this region; there are good shops with hiking supplies as well as moose themes (the region�s mascot!). This is also a good place to stock up on lunches or plan your supper and lodging (see Where To Stay and Where To Eat). The fun of the town is the sense of being where the "real hikers" have all visited. Meet Route 2 in Gorham, and turn westward for more adventure in the White Mountain National Forest, or continue north on Route 16 to enter the Great North Woods region.
From Gorham, most hikers will head either south to the trails of Pinkham Notch and Mt. Washington, or west toward Randolph�s busy trailheads and the other hiker havens of Crawford Notch and Franconia Notch. But Evans Notch deserves mention. Least known of all the New Hampshire notches, it lies on the border of Maine, south of Gorham, and is reached by taking Route 2 east and crossing the Maine border, going two miles into the state of Maine, and turning right (south) onto Route 113, which sways back into New Hampshire in a few more miles and eventually connects with Route 302 east of Center Conway. The mountains here are in the Mahoosuc Range (mahoosuc is Abenaki for "abode of hungry animals").
There�s an Appalachian Mountain Club access point called Cold River Camp on Route 113, and from here the trails in New Hampshire lead to the Baldface Mountains: 3.6 miles to South Baldface, 4.7 miles to North Baldface. These slopes were swept by fire in 1903, burning all the way to Jackson. Because of the destructive week-long burn, there are incredible views from these peaks. However, harsh weather is common, and there are no tested and reliable water sources, so this territory is for experienced hikers willing to take some additional risks as well as additional baggage. Consult the AMC Guide to the White Mountains; the Forest Service also offers a leaflet on the Baldface Circle and Bicknell Ridge Trail, which can be picked up at the ranger station in Gorham.
From Gorham, Route 2 takes you west along the edge of the main block of the White Mountain National Forest. Route 2 enters the town of Randolph almost immediately, and reaches the Appalachia trailhead for the forest at about six miles from Route 16. The trailhead is on your left, with one of the largest parking areas in the North Country! (That goes to show how important hiking is here.) Although Appalachia is also the name of a small town, most hikers think of this area as part of Randolph in part because the Randolph Mountain Club does such yeoman work in maintaining and mapping the trails here. (The name has nothing to do with the Appalachian Mountain title; it comes from 19th-century trail builder William Peek, who found some small boys there who�d eaten too many green apples from the orchard and were in pain hence, "apple-achia.") Pick up the group�s trail guide, Randolph Paths, at a local shop or at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center (south on Route 16; see page 85).
Although Mt. Washington beckons as the high peak for the region, Appalachia and Randolph are the true center of hiking trails for the northern White Mountains. South of Route 2 are the so-called Northern Peaks of the Presidential Range: Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson. North of Route 2 is the Crescent Range. The earliest hikers� trail was blazed in the 1850s by Gorham mountain guide James Gordon at the urging of Thomas Starr King, the mountain-loving writer who inspired thousands to travel to these peaks. More than 100 miles of trails were laid by a small group of dedicated climbers during the 1880s and 1890s, but the logging of the forests accelerated in 1903-1904, destroying many of the trails. With the establishment of the White Mountain National Forest, countless volunteers and dozens of professional trail crews blazed and built hundreds more miles of trails. Mt. Adams, second highest of the White Mountains (5,799 feet), is a striking sight from a distance and a peak well worth climbing. Mt. Jefferson (5,716 feet) is reached by some of the more challenging hiking trails: the Caps Ridge Trail from Jefferson Notch, the Castle Trail, and the Gulfside Trail and Mt. Jefferson Loop. Although Mt. Madison is the shortest of this group, its 5,366-foot summit offers grand views and more good trails.
These are the peaks now reached from Appalachia, which is only one of six major trailheads listed by the Randolph Mountain Club. To get oriented, check your map and find the secondary road that cuts from Route 16 to Route 2, slicing off a triangle with Gorham at the tip. This secondary road is called both the Dolly Copp Road and the Pinkham B Road (signs may say either or both names). On the Route 16 side, it is the approach road to Dolly Copp Campground, but continues past the campground into deep woods (beware of logging trucks, a sign of the mixed community uses of the forest). It is a more or less level road, and there are designated parking areas along it. The major trailheads start here. From east to west they are:
? The "height of land" (highest point) on the Pinkham B (Dolly Copp) Road.
? Randolph East, at the Route 2 end of Pinkham B (Dolly Copp) Road, less than a quarter-mile from the highway.
? Appalachia, already mentioned, on the south side of Route 2 about a half-mile west of where the Pinkham B (Dolly Copp) Road meets Route 2.
? Lowe�s Store on Route 2 (north side, about two miles west of the Appalachia parking area). This store is the heart of hiker country, and Randolph Mountain Club activities are listed here. Pick up trail guides and maps as well as supplies. The store, founded by Vernon B. Lowe in 1960, has always welcomed hikers. There are cabins behind it, and plenty of parking (fee charged for overnight).
? Bowman, about one mile west of Lowe�s Store, also on Route 2 (south side).
? Jefferson Notch, reached by taking the Jefferson Notch Road south from the Valley Road in Jefferson (see Crawford Notch).
Randolph Mountain Club trails also start from two former sites of mountain lodges: the Mt. Crescent House site on Randolph Hill Road (which is well marked on Route 2), and the Ravine House Site on old Route 2, now called Durand Road. You can find hundreds of trails and routes listed in Randolph Paths, and with these you�ll be able to hike not only into the Presidentials, but also north into the less-visited Crescent Range.
To narrow the options for a first-time visit, here are a few favorite hikes of varied length and challenge.
? Coldbrook Fall: This hike starts from Appalachia on the Air Line Trail, which you leave 0.1 mile later and turn right onto the Amphibrach (a trail name derived from its original triple blazing in 1883). The trail runs along the edge of a power-line clearing until 0.6 mile, when it bears left onto a logging road. Two other trails cut off to the left, but stick with the Amphibrach to Memorial Bridge at 0.7 miles; this bridge is a memorial to the original path-builders of these woods. You can see the waterfall from the bridge, and walk up the spur trail to get close to it. Round-trip distance for the hike is 1½ miles (you can vary the return by taking Sylvan Way to Air Line, for the same mileage); expect to hike for about 1½ hours.
? Snyder Brook: Would you like to see ancient hemlocks, part of the old-growth forest that escaped the logging ax? This is another short hike, just 1½ miles (about an hour) for the round trip, but there are cascades, rapids, and pools on Snyder Brook and the trees are quietly impressive. From the east end of the parking lot at Appalachia take the trail called Fallsway, which runs east a short distance, then turns to cross the railroad bed and enters the woods to run along Snyder Brook. It passes the Gordon Falls (and a related trail loop), then the Lower and Upper Salroc Falls, and finally reaches the head of Tama Falls; for more views on the way back, switch trails to Brookbank, which is a somewhat rough trail that returns you to Fallsway.
? Dome Rock: Here�s a romantic hike to schedule for a supper picnic. The Randolph Paths authors recommend it for a sunset view, followed by a quick descent. The round-trip is 3.2 miles (two hours and 15 minutes) by this set of trails. From Appalachia follow the Valley Way and Brookside to the first crossing of Snyder Brook. Then turn left and climb on Inlook Trail, traversing open ledges with low trees and good views, to Dome Rock. It�s worth going another 0.1 mile past Dome Rock on Inlook Trail to see another view, this time from the Upper Inlook. If you�re wondering about the name "Inlook," consider that the views here are "in" towards the Northern Peaks, and "out" to the west and north.
? Mt. Adams: The Randolph Mountain Club maintains four places to spend the night on the northwest slopes of this mountain. Two are enclosed lodges: Gray Knob, open year-round, and Crag Camp, where there�s a summer caretaker. In addition, there�s the Perch (lean-to and some tent platforms) and the Log Cabin (Adirondack-style shelter with one open side). Modest fees are charged for these shelters (even with inflation, figure on $10 or less per night at the enclosed ones and $4-5 at the more primitive versions); you must bring your own sleeping and cooking gear, including camp stove.
? But you don�t have to stay overnight. Mt. Adams can also be hiked as a challenging day hike of nine miles, or about 7½ hours, provided that the weather is kind, as the trail has some very steep and exposed sections. Start from Appalachia and follow the Air Line Trail into the woods. Trails heading out or across your path include the Link, Amphibrach, Sylvan Way, Beechwood Way, Short Line, and Randolph Path all in the first mile! Stay with Air Line, which begins to rise steeply to Durand Ridge. This ridge in turn becomes the Knife-edge, where you climb past an overlook of the King Ravine. The ravine is full of huge boulders and ice caves, and its history includes perhaps being the hiding place for Rogers� Rangers as they retreated from Canada during the French and Indian War. At 3.2 miles the Chemin des Dames ("Ladies� Road," once considered the gentlest path here) rises out of the ravine to meet you. At 3½ miles the Air Line Cutoff heads over to the Madison Spring AMC hut (also just called Madison Hut). But stay with the regular trail another half-mile to a striking view of Mt. Madison, before turning right to coincide with the Gulfside Trail. Go 70 yards and turn left to take a rough rocky route to the summit. You�ll pass a minor summit on the way, named John Quincy Adams for the sixth U.S. president, before you reach the main peak. Here you lookout over the Great Gulf and realize why this area was set aside as one of the forest�s designated wilderness areas. It is vast and magnificent but find your own words for it, if you can.
? For variety on the return trip, take the cutoff to Madison Hut and pick up Valley Way Trail there, descending quickly along the Snyder Brook and offering some shelter from inclement weather/ Valley Way will take you all the way back to a right turn Air Line as you get close to Appalachia.
When you�ve had enough of running into the many hikers who head to the White Mountains in summer and during the fall foliage season, try the Randolph Mountain Club paths north of Route 2 instead. One of the favorite trails in this area is the one to Ice Gulch, a wild and beautiful place with giant boulders and very challenging climbing over and among them. Don�t miss Lookout Ledge, either, although it�s a short hike.
? SUGGESTED READING: For all the hikes north of Route 2, do get the book Randolph Paths and the Randolph Mountain Club�s map, both available at Lowe�s Store on Route 2, at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, and at Ragged Mountain Equipment on Route 16 in Intervale.
West of Randolph, Route 2 enters Jefferson Highlands and then Jefferson. Taking the left turn onto Route 115 will lead you toward Crawford Notch, one of the most compact but interesting hiking regions of the forest. Along Route 115 are also two hiking trailheads, for the Owl�s Head and Cherry Mountain Trails; see the AMC White Mountain Guide.
From Route 2, the most direct way to reach Crawford Notch is the left turn onto Route 115 just before arriving at the tourist attractions of Jefferson (east of the town). Route 115 ends at Route 3, where a left turn again brings you to Route 302. At the junction with 302, in the town of Twin Mountain, Route 3 goes south toward Franconia Notch; save that for another day and go left one more time, onto Route 302 as it heads nominally west (actually south) toward Bretton Woods and the Mt. Washington Hotel. Before you reach these landmarks though, you�ll see the parking area for Zealand on the right.
Zealand isn�t actually quite part of the geology of Crawford Notch, as it sits on the higher land above the sharp cut between the mountains. But it is close by, and is one of the most pleasant hiking areas of the White Mountain National Forest. It�s especially well liked as a family hiking region, because the elevation changes are gradual and there�s plenty to see. The region suffered both logging and two disastrous forest fires, and traces of the earlier settlers can still be found. The Zealand Trail includes wooden bridges and an elevated boardwalk, a beaver area, and waterfalls. It takes you to an AMC hut, better described as a mountain lodge, where you can find basic refreshments like lemonade and even (by pre-arrangement) spend the night in the large bunkrooms. The front porch of the lodge offers an exquisite view, and the nearby falls make for good exploring.
The Zealand trailhead is reached from Zealand Road, which begins two miles from where Route 3 cuts across Route 302 (or if you come from the North Conway area, it�s six miles past the AMC�s Crawford Hostel at the top of Crawford Notch). Follow the Zealand Road past the campground and on for about 3½ miles to a parking area at the end of the road; the trail is straight past the gate. (Note that the Zealand Road closes for the winter, mid-November to mid-May.) The trail is blazed with blue paint and is well traveled, easy to follow. The round-trip mileage will be 5.6 miles, and you�ll spend three hours hiking it (that reflects the ascent involved); if you travel with kids, add another hour. The first part of the hike is a gentle uphill ramble, often along the bed of the old logging railroad. At 0.8 miles the trail arrives at the Zealand River, which it crosses at 1½ miles, then heads across a beaver swamp before re-entering the forest. A major trail, the A-Z Trail, comes in on the left at 2.3 miles, and the trail then wraps along the edge of Zealand Pond until it meets the Ethan Pond and Twinway Trails. A right turn on Twinway takes you to the Zealand Falls Hut in just 0.3 miles, although the last 0.1 mile is very steep (there are steps to help out). When you�re ready to visit Zealand Falls, go back to the base of this steep part and take the side trail. This hike can also be extended to include the Ethan Pond Trail through Zealand Notch to Thoreau Falls, another 2.6 miles farther with a 400-foot drop in elevation. If you do opt for the extension, keep in mind that you�ll have to climb back up that distance before reaching the "easy" part of your return.
Crawford Depot & AMC Hostel
The history of Crawford Notch includes landslides, railroads, timber barons, grand hotels, and love stories. Today these have mostly vanished, although the railroad is used for scenic train trips several times a week, and romances certainly take place, although not as famous as the ones that the Crawford Notch geographic features are named for. Signs of the busy earlier era can be found, and photos in places like the Crawford Depot building give views of the past hundred years.
But today Crawford Notch is dedicated to hikers, year-round, and the Crawford Depot and adjoining AMC Hostel make up the northern trailhead. The old railroad building, on the right as you enter the notch on Route 302 from the north, is now owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club and has a small museum of photos and artifacts, as well as restrooms and basic hiking supplies. Maps and the route and lodging suggestions of experienced hikers can also be found at the counter here. Trails begin behind the depot, just across the railroad tracks (beware of excursion trains, especially during fall foliage season!). You can also see the modest buildings of the AMC Hostel, where hikers can get a bed for the night (plus free showers and use of a self-service kitchen) for less than $20; reservations are encouraged (see Where To Stay).
For a good view of the notch itself, a short hike up Mt. Willard will stretch your leg s and get you started in the White Mountains. The Mt. Willard Trail is 1.6 miles long but climbs 900 feet, so very small children won�t be too happy with it; age five or six is a good time to start. Allow about four hours for the trip, which would take only about 2½ hours for the adult who doesn�t stop long at the summit. Kids or not, the view is worth the trouble, as the rocky overlook at 2,815 feet gives a grand vista directly down the notch so that the road and mountain railway unroll before you as narrow lines through the trees and surrounding mountain peaks. Hiking boots are a good idea because the steep parts are alternately rocky and muddy. Have the kids watch for Centennial Pool on the way up, and then start looking for the old culverts still running under the path, possibly dating back to when this was a carriage road for elegant guests more than a century ago. There are no views before the top, just thick woods and plenty of birdsong; June is the best time to see wildflowers like lily of the valley and trillium along the trail. On clear vacation days the trail does collect a lot of hikers, so if solitude is your preference, go early in the morning on a weekday. Rock climbers sometimes head down the sheer cliffs at the top to investigate the small cave a hundred feet down from the summit; there�s no other way to reach it, but local tradition has named it Devil�s Den and says there were once bones found there! (A later state expedition found nothing of the sort.)
Ripley Falls & Arethusa Falls
Another pleasant hike near Crawford Depot is the one to Ripley Falls, a 100-foot-high waterfall on Avalanche Brook. Continue on Route 302 past the Crawford Depot and the road drops down sharply, passing two waterfalls on the left (there�s a parking pulloff on the right if you want to stop a few minutes and admire them). At the "base" of the notch, when the road flattens out again, is the Willey House on your right, which includes a snack bar and small museum as part of the state park. Another half-mile on the right brings you to the turn for Ripley Falls, well marked, and you drive up a short paved road to the trailhead. At first the trail is called the Ethan Pond Trail and is marked with white blazes because the Appalachian Trail is also following this section. At 0.2 miles the Ethan Pond Trail goes steeply on ahead, but you make the left onto the Ripley Falls Trail and climb far more gradually, with a short drop to the waterfall and the end of the climb; you�re going up only 350 feet in all over the half-mile trail, so it�s not going to wear you out.
A similar but steeper version is the trail to Arethusa Falls, twice as high (200-foot falls) and about twice the effort to reach. The usual trail to Arethusa Falls is at the south end of the state park here; on Route 302, again go past the Crawford Depot and take the road down through the notch. Pass the Willey House and Ripley Falls turnoffs, driving on the highway until you see the Dry River Campground on the left, and measure 0.5 miles farther down Route 302 to a parking lot on the right. There�s a short paved road going up the hill to where the trail begins, 1.3 miles one-way, climbing some 900 feet in elevation.
You can combine the two waterfalls into an all-day hike that will give you a thorough workout and take you down a cliff trail you won�t need ropes and such, but you will want good hiking shoes, and a hiking stick or staff might be helpful. To put this hike together, climb to Ripley Falls from Crawford Depot as just described, then follow the 2½-mile Ripley-Arethusa Trail across the height of the land, doing a fair amount of up and down travel on a good trail. (You might see the mounds of golden-brown marble-sized pellets that are droppings from moose, but the large animals are not likely to be close enough for you to see any in the thick woods.) Savor the spectacle of Arethusa and give yourself a bit more of a challenge by taking the 0.1-mile footpath to the top of the falls.
? CAUTION: Lives have been lost here by falling on the wet rocks and ledges at the top of the falls. It�s amazing how much less traction a perfectly good hiking boot has once it gets wet, and a wet surface underneath makes the problem worse. Don�t trust these surfaces; stay safe!
Climb down the spur and go back along the Arethusa-Ripley Falls Trail, climbing 1.3 miles toward Ripley but stopping at the junction with the Frankenstein Cliffs Trail. Head down (to your right) on this trail for a short ways to its first overlook (probably of a snow-capped mountain peak!) and break for lunch, lightening your load for the very steep descent. At 1.3 miles there�s an even better overlook of the southern part of Crawford Notch. The Frankenstein Cliffs Trail (named after the local railroad builder, not the monster) takes 2.1 miles to reach the base of the Arethusa Falls Trail, but you can cut this short by about 0.3 miles as you spot the highway through the trees below the railroad trestle. Walk up Route 302 (to your left) the remaining 2.3 miles to the base of the Ripley Falls Trail, stopping to enjoy the Saco River along the way. The total for this double-waterfall-plus-cliffs hike and return to the car is over eight miles, some of it fairly strenuous; make sure you take plenty of water with you.
Here�s a glorious trail for long-distance hikers, one that will take you up to or close to the summits of four peaks in the Presidential Range and let you retrace the pathway first built by Abel and Ethan Allen Crawford in 1819. It was a very rough trail then, and wasn�t improved much until 1840, when it was converted to a bridle path that Abel, then 74, traveled for the first horseback ride to Mt. Washington, the highest of the White Mountain peaks. The Appalachian Mountain Club began maintenance of the trail in the late 1800s, and the first part of the trail is now a National Recreation Trail. To reach Mt. Washington is an 8.2-mile hike along this trail, taking a good 6½ hours if you�re in shape for it. Obviously, most hikers will use this as part of a backpacking trip that takes more than just a day.
? TIP: For this kind of trip, plan carefully using the AMC White Mountain Guide, and study weather patterns to try for a safe and relatively dry trip. Best tip: Travel it the first time with someone who has already made this kind of hike and knows how to prepare for it and carry it out.
But you can hike a great section of the Crawford Path to the summit of Mt. Pierce, also known as Mt. Clinton, and enjoy a six-mile round trip that climbs 2,400 feet of elevation, if you�re in pretty good shape and used to the effort needed for steep and rocky trails. The approach to the Crawford Path has traditionally been across the road from Crawford Depot, but there is a new parking lot that makes it simpler. You�ll need to locate the Mt. Clinton Road, by heading a short distance back up Route 302 toward the top of the notch and looking for the modest sign on your right, just after Saco Lake.
Turn onto the Mt. Clinton Road; the parking lot for the Crawford Path is on your right. From the trailhead the new "Crawford Connector" joins the Crawford Path in 0.2 miles, where a side trail also leads off to Crawford Cliff; save that one for another day, as you have "miles to go before you sleep" (loosely adapted from New Hampshire�s noted poet, Robert Frost). Stay with the main trail along Gibbs Brook, passing another side trail (to Gibbs Falls) at 0.4 miles. There�s an information sign for the Gibbs Brook Scenic Area, which includes a 900-acre stand of virgin timber, mostly red spruce and balsam fir. This was a priceless save from the timber companies in the early 20th century! Savor it.
The trail from the AMC�s hut at Mizpah Springs enters at 1.75 miles, and you climb back and forth across the face of the Mt. Clinton until you emerge above treeline at 2.75 miles, close to the summit (4,310 feet peak). At 2.9 miles leave the Crawford Path to step aside onto the Webster Cliff Trail to reach the very top of Clinton/Pierce (4,310 feet). You can now loop back via the Webster Cliff Trail and Mizpah Cut-Off.
If you want to extend the hike (to 8.6 miles round trip, and another peak), keep going on the Crawford Path through scrub and low woods with plenty of views from rocky slabs along the way, along the crest of the broad ridge that joins Clinton and Eisenhower (political wisecracks certainly allowed, although Mt. Clinton was named long before Bill Clinton led the United States). At 3.6 miles the trail crosses a small brook and begins to climb again, reaching the Mt. Eisenhower Loop at 4.1 miles. Take the left turn to the summit, another 0.2 miles (and 300 feet of climbing) ahead of you. The peak is 4,761 feet in elevation and has fine views. Now you�ve been to the top of two 4,000-footers in a single day, and may be in danger of catching the syndrome known as "peak bagging," where you make long lists of high peaks and try to climb them all!
There are two small lakes in Crawford Notch: Saco, across from the Crawford Depot, and Ammonoosuc, behind the AMC Hostel. Each has short, interesting trails that can be covered in an hour or two of pleasant walking.
? SUGGESTED READING: Robert Buchsbaum�s book Nature Hikes in the White Mountains offers tips for family hikes on these trails, complete with guidance about what to get the kids looking for. But you can just head out onto the trails and discover them for yourself, too.
This small town south of Crawford Notch is strongly linked with the Mt. Washington valley towns of Jackson, Glen, North Conway, and Intervale. There�s a traditional hike here that New Hampshire kids have taken for decades or longer: the hike up Cave Mountain, better known for its cave than its climb (the mountain is only 1,335 feet at peak). When you reach the center of Bartlett on Route 302, turn left onto River Street and at the next intersection go straight ahead onto the rough dirt road. The climb to the mountain is a well-worn trail at the end of the road.
You can approach Franconia Notch from the north, connecting from Route 2 via Route 3 to the Franconia Notch Parkway, or from the south, arriving from Lincoln. Most travelers are likely to come from the south on their first visit, so landmarks and trails are listed from the southern end of the notch here. Like Crawford Notch, Franconia Notch includes a large state park established through the same local urge for preservation that created the White Mountain National Forest. The state park lines both sides of Route 93 here, and the highway itself narrows to become the scenic two-lane Franconia Notch Parkway for eight miles before again expanding north of Cannon Mountain; don�t let the change of road name confuse you. The road passes between the high peaks of the Kinsman and Franconia ranges (the Franconia Range is the second highest in the state, after the Presidentials), and travels within easy sight of the Old Man of the Mountain, the famous rock formation that Daniel Webster and Nathaniel Hawthorne immortalized as a symbol of New Hampshire and the independence of the state�s residents. The Appalachian Trail cuts through the notch, and the cliffs here include many traditional rock-climbing routes. The ski area at Cannon Mountain does not offer its ski trails for summer use, but does provide tram rides to the summit (small fee), linking hikers to the trails that head south along the ridgeline.
Trails west of the notch tend to be less steep and rocky than those on the east side, where the bare-rock top of Mt. Lafayette (5,259 feet) and the ridge connecting it with Mt. Lincoln, Little Haystack Mountain, and Mt. Liberty are exposed and dangerous in wet weather. There are trails for every experience and exertion level here, starting with the beautifully laid out handicap-accessible trail to the Basin and extending to the strenuous hike up the Falling Waters Trail to the Franconia Ridge, over the ridge of Mt. Lafayette, and down the Greenleaf Trail and Old Bridle Path. As you can tell from the place and trail names, this notch is full of stories about heroes and explorers; one of the tenderest stories features the actress Bette Davis (see page 111) and the Coppermine Trail, which leads toward Bridal Veil Falls.
Although Route 3 and Interstate 93 both head north from the Lincoln area into the notch, they merge into the Franconia Notch Parkway under the benign gaze of the Indian Head rock formation on Mt. Pemigewasset to the left. The first parkway exit, Exit 1, is for The Flume. Visitors to New Hampshire have stopped here for generations, and it�s still worth a visit, although on hot summer days it�s pretty crowded. The promise of a cool two-mile stroll draws extra company! The parkway exit takes you to a series of parking lots and a visitor center with travel information, restrooms, and snack bar. Pick up a map of the Flume so you�ll be prepared for the Boulder Cabin, Table Rock, and Avalanche Falls, as well as the Ridge Path that takes you downhill to Liberty Gorge and Cascades. The Flume itself is an 800-foot natural gorge at the base of Mt. Liberty, with a boardwalk along it that brings you close to flowers, ferns, and mosses. Older hikers take courage: Although there�s some rocky and uphill walking here, the Flume was actually discovered by 93-year-old "Aunt" Jess Guernsey in 1808 follow her example!
Some of the trails from the Pemigewasset Wilderness (described with the Kancamagus Highway earlier) end at the old Whitehouse Bridge, and this trailhead is next along the parkway. A sign for the Basin points you to the next exit; the Basin is part of the Pemigewasset River, where there�s a small waterfall and at its foot a granite pothole 20 feet in diameter, looking like a bathing spot for wood nymphs and dryads. This elegant little White Mountain sight is easily reached by a rolling path, and even the "modern outhouse" restrooms are wheelchair accessible.
Beyond the Basin a significant hiking trail heads up the slope: the Cascade-Basin Trail, which eventually connects with the Cascade Brook Trail to approach the spectacular mountain lake a thousand feet higher up, Lonesome Lake. There�s an Appalachian Mountain Club "hut" (snack bar and associated bunkhouses) here, where naturalists offer programs nearly every summer afternoon and evening, and the bunkrooms are small enough (four bunks each) to be used for families to have some privacy. You bring your own sheets, but blankets, plus supper and breakfast, are included. The most recent fee to stay there in the summer was about $60 per adult and about half that for children; off-peak in late May there are no meals served and the price is lower.
The hike to Lonesome Lake is amply described by the AMC White Mountain Guide and most other hiking guide books to the region; you can even do this one without a map by just following the signs, but the books are reassuring when the stretches of rocky climbing seem endless. The distance to Lonesome Lake from the Basin is about six miles round trip, but the rise in elevation means it will take about two hours. Wear hiking boots as the rocks are plentiful. Along the way there are cascades and thick woods, and at the summit there are incredible vistas. This trip is worth the effort.
You might also notice the Pemi Trail beyond the Basin; it runs along the Pemigewasset River through the notch, a mostly level and comfortable way to hike from one end to the other. Don�t hike on the bike trail, though!
Lafayette Place is the next Parkway exit north. There�s a campground here, as well as a lodge and visitor center, with displays on the natural and human history of the notch. A shorter, somewhat steeper path, the Lonesome Lake Trail, leads from the campground to the AMC hut. It also connects with the Hi-Cannon Trail that climbs Cannon Mountain, a rugged hike of several hours with options on which parts of the peaks to clamber over (including the Cannon Balls at the ridgeline).
On the northbound side of the parkway, two major trails start up toward Mt. Lafayette and the Franconia Ridge: the Falling Waters Trail and the Old Bridle Path. These are trails for serious hikers, and should be studied in the AMC White Mountain Guide in advance (and you�ll need dry weather for both safe footing and good views). The Old Bridle Path was literally a pony trail from one of the old resort inns here, and today leads past the AMC Greenleaf Hut (similar arrangements to those of Lonesome Lake Hut) before reaching the crags of Mt. Lafayette�s summit.
Few people stop to see Boise Rock, next on the right up the parkway, but the story of the rock is provocative: Thomas Boise was driving his horse past here when he and the animal were caught in a blizzard in the early 1800s. To save his own life, Boise eventually killed his horse and wrapped himself in the hide and sheltered under the rock. Rescuers had to cut away the frozen hide the next day to release the surviving Boise! Nearby there�s a spring and picnic tables.
There�s a view spot on the northbound parkway to look at the rock formation called the Old Man of the Mountain, but take the next exit instead and park by the snack bar in the "Old Man parking" area. Walk past the snack bar and down the short (one-third mile) trail to Profile Lake, which offers the best view; you�ll also be able to see the Eagle Cliffs on the way, a good spot for beginning rock climbers to tackle. The Old Man of the Mountain (also called the Great Stone Face or the Profile) is made of five separate granite ledges slabbed on top of each other, and was formed geologically in a process that started about 200 million years ago. You can�t climb it it�s downright dangerous and the ledges have been reinforced to keep the noted profile in place. North of the Profile (up the notch) is the peak rock formation that resembles the barrel of a cannon and gives the mountain its name.
The Kinsman Ridge Trail, which takes a summit trek 16.9 miles to the Lincoln area and Kinsman Notch, has its northern trailhead at the Old Man parking area. You can also take the Pemi Trail from here south through the notch, reaching the Flume five miles later after an invigorating riverside tramp.
Also at this exit is the paved road to the Cannon Mountain aerial tramway. Hikers sometimes use the five-minute ride up the tramway as a launch to the hiking trails at the top of the mountain (4,060 feet), and this is one way to get small children up to the trails with a little less effort. At the foot of the tramway is a snack bar and a ski museum (see Sightseeing).
There�s a marked road here that leads to Echo Lake, the more northern of the two lakes at the foot of Cannon, although you can also reach Echo from the next (and final) parkway exit. The beach here draws a good summer crowd; rock climbers start for Artist�s Bluff and Bald Mountain here, as do hikers. The trail is just 1½ miles long and after a steep start is a mostly steady climb that gives some great views of the cliffs and the notch. One of the easier ways to take the trail is by starting at the Peabody Slope (ski area) parking lot and going first to the spur to the summit of Bald Mountain, then down to the trail junction again and heading left to Artist�s Bluff. The steep descent is improved with rock steps and takes you to Echo Lake, from which you stroll along Route 18 to where you parked at Peabody.
Coppermine Trail climbs the west side of Cannon Mountain. There�s no established trail connection to the notch, so drive around to Franconia (Exit 38 from Interstate 93, just above the north end of the notch) and take Route 116 south from the traffic light at the center of the village for 3.4 miles to park at the foot of Coppermine Road. Walk about 0.4 mile to the trailhead on the left. In another 2.2 miles you�ll be at Bridal Veil Falls, a lovely series of cascades. But only a quarter-mile up the trail is the rock with a plaque memorializing a tender interlude in the life of actress Bette Davis. Robert N. Buchsbaum tells the story in Nature Hikes in the White Mountains.
Legend has it that in 1939, the actress, while relaxing in nearby Sugar Hill, fell in love with both the White Mountains and a young Vermonter, Arthur Farnsworth, who was employed at Pecketts, the resort where she was staying. She strayed from a hiking group on the Coppermine Trail, sure that Farnsworth would be the one sent to find her later on. Apparently her ploy succeeded, and she was happily married to the local man until his tragic death three years later when he fell down the stairs in their home. Watch for the plaque to see what the actress said about her beloved. And if you�d like another bit of her history, stop in later at the Sugar Hill Historical Society Museum (see Sightseeing).
For many New Englanders, a hike up Mt. Moosilauke is an autumn ritual. The mountain peak reaches 4,810 feet, but the challenge is making your way through miles of thick woods before reaching the summit.
? HOW TO SAY IT: Mt. Moosilauke? You can choose whether to pronounce the name with an "ee" at the end or not; you�ll hear both versions. The Indian name means "a bald place," referring to the summit, but another local spelling was once Moose-hillock, a very understandable corruption!
The summit is at 4,802 feet, the most western of the great peaks in New Hampshire, and the view to the east over the White Mountains is superb. The land south and east of the summit belongs to Dartmouth College, which allows no camping or fires there. There was once a stone hotel, Prospect House, at the summit, and remains of a carriage road are still used for trails.
There are several approaches to climbing Mt. Moosilauke, but the most common is to take Raven Lodge Road from Route 118 between Warren and Woodstock (5.8 miles from Route 25 in Warren, or 7.2 miles from Route 112). This access road goes 1.6 miles to the trailhead. Both the Gorge Brook Trail and the Snapper Trail, which will lead into the old Carriage Road, meet at Raven Brook Lodge (the lodge is not open to the public). You can use these to create a six-mile hiking loop that includes both Mt. Moosilauke�s summit and the nearby South Peak. Pick a warm, clear day to go, and be prepared for colder weather and wind; this isn�t as challenging in terms of weather as Mt. Washington, but the mountain ridge can be cold and icy year-round. Hiking boots and extra layers are a must. Plan on about 4½ hours for the loop not counting the time you spend gazing at vistas!
Make the Gorge Brook Trail your uphill choice, as there are a lot of paths diverging from it, but they�re not as confusing going up as coming down. The trail first follows a logging road to the Baker River and crosses it on a footbridge, then turns left (0.2 miles; a trail leaves right) for 0.1 mile to a right turn (a trail leaves straight), and another trail, this time the Snapper where you�ll later descend, goes left 0.1 mile later. Now you follow Gorge Brook with fewer distractions, crossing the brook twice and at 1.6 miles reaching a plaque for the Ross McKenney Forest. Here the trail has been recently revamped and swings to the right of a former route. When it turns left onto an old logging road at 2.1 miles, you�ll have a chance to catch your breath as the grade gets a bit easier, winding up the slope with plenty of outlooks. At 3.3 miles you�ll see the summit, and at 3.7 miles the trail joins the Beaver Brook Trail for the last 50 yards. The last segment, over the rocks, is marked by cairns.
After you feast on the view (and whatever you toted in your backpack), find the Carriage Road heading south along the ridge. (If weather turns foggy or threatening, though, go back the way you came up.) After 0.9 mile the Glencliff Trail enters from the right; look for the spur just after the Glencliff to take a short side trip to the south peak for a fresh view. Return to the Carriage Road for another mile, to two miles from the summit, where you pick up the Snapper Trail back to the lower part of the Gorge Brook Trail.
? CAUTION: The first part of the Carriage Road often suffers erosion. Here�s where your hiking boots are especially helpful, but do watch your footing on the rocks.
There�s some modest hiking to be done at Lost River, off Route 112 east of Lincoln. But since it�s really a geological discovery park (complete with waterfalls and caves), see Sightseeing for details.
? It�s hard to pin down Profile Mountaineering to one location. Its office is on Main Street in North Woodstock, the mailing address is PO Box 607, Lincoln, NH 03251, and phone is 745-3106, but the rock climbing, snow and ice climbing, and wilderness treks offered range from Franconia Notch to the Pemigewasset Wilderness to a winter ascent of Mt. Washington. Here�s a good way to get support and training for some really challenging adventures. Prices start at about $100 per person for a day, and drop as the groups get larger.
? On Wheels
Road touring on bicycles through the White Mountains is surprisingly accessible. Roads were built through valleys and along rivers and streams, and they are still the easiest ways through the mountains, with less severe ups and downs than hikers face. The New Hampshire section of the East Coast Bicycle Trail enters the White Mountains at Conway, travels up West Side Road parallel to Route 16 toward Glen, and heads up through Crawford Notch on the wide smooth shoulders of Route 302. The rocky heights of the mountains are well forested, and you pedal through a green wildness, refreshed by the Saco River alongside the roadway. There�s a steep grade through the notch, but you can take your time, and it�s worth the effort. When Route 302 reaches the highly traveled Route 3, the bike trail goes north a short ways on Route 3, then takes the attractive right turn onto Route 115 for terrific views of the Northern Peaks of the White Mountains. The uphill section on Route 115 is mercifully brief, and the downhill swoop is exhilarating; do pause at the scenic overlook on the left. Just past the overlook you need to take the left turn onto Route 115A, crossing the Israel River, and enjoying a low-traffic segment before making a left onto Route 2 itself for a frantic half-mile of dodging high-speed vehicles. Relief arrives quickly with the right turn onto North Road. After about two miles North Road bends to the left and you stay with it another three miles to the right turn onto the Lost Nation Road, sometimes marked at Grange Road at this southern end. The Lost Nation Road lives up to its name: You enter a peaceful rural world set apart from all else, and have 12 miles of the best backroad biking until you reach the paper-mill town of Groveton, entering the Great North Woods region. The best snacking along this trail is in Twin Mountain on the short stretch of Route 3, where general stores cater to hikers and bikers with delights like ice cream, barbecued ribs, and homemade fudge.
Looking for a shorter route, more of a day tour? There�s a 37-mile loop described in 30 Bicycle Tours in New Hampshire that starts in North Conway at the Eastern Slopes Inn, heads west across the Saco River to West Side Road (take a right, heading north), then uses Route 302 west for 4.1 miles to reach Bartlett (food break here!), where the Bear Notch Road begins. This summer-only route heads south (left) through 9.1 miles of barely tamed wilderness and takes you all the way to the Kancamagus Highway (alias Route 112; caution: narrow shoulders and fast traffic), which you follow for six miles, probably stopping at some of the river scenic areas. There�s a left turn at Blueberry Crossing that takes you through a covered bridge onto the Dugway Road, a narrow and rough road with limited visibility but less traffic and lots of forest appeal; in 6.1 miles it reaches Allen Siding, where a left and 0.2 miles takes you to a railroad crossing and another left. Just 0.4 miles later you�re back on West Side Road, which in 4.6 miles connects with your right turn onto River Road and brings you back to the start at the inn.
Another day loop uses Route 142, which connects Route 302 in Bethlehem with Franconia through a relatively undiscovered forested region. Use Route 116/18 to connect with Route 302 to the west of Bethlehem and cycle back through the town, which includes some pleasant eateries as well as the sights of an early resort town, complete with old inns whose wide porches often shelter visiting Hassidic Jews from more urban regions. Bethlehem is visitor-friendly and includes antique shops and a terrific little theater.
It�s also worth noting that the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) offers 34 miles of uninterrupted scenic wilderness to bike; drawbacks are the narrowness of the shoulders in many areas, and the heavy summer and fall foliage traffic. You�ll need a mind that�s both relaxed and very alert to make this ride enjoyable, but the numerous side trips along the route are a lot of fun. Don�t miss Sabbaday Falls! And catch a swim at Rocky Gorge.
A short and smooth tour can be found in Franconia Notch on the paved bike path that runs south from Skookumchuck Brook all the way to the Flume; it�s 8.8 miles long and has plenty of attractions, although there are also plenty of people around them, especially in midsummer. The northern terminus is at Route 3 and Skookumchuck Brook, and the southern one is at the Flume exit from the Franconia Notch Parkway. There are only two brief "bike walk" areas in the high-pedestrian sections. Bike rentals are available at nearby Cannon Mountain ( 823-5563) and in Franconia at the Franconia Sports Shop (open seven days a week, 823-5241; in-line skate rentals, too).
Mountain bikers have some great challenges in the White Mountains. The nine-mile-long bike trail through Jefferson Notch is rough and steep at times, but offers quality views, thick forest, and has been blessed by the White Mountain National Forest authorities specifically for wheels. It is now part of a 25-mile loop recommended for mountain biking and offers three waterfalls and great views. Start at the trailhead three miles east of Twin Mountain on Route 302 in the parking area 200 yards beyond the entrance to Zealand Campground (elevation 1,506 feet). Leave from the east side of the trailhead using Lower Falls Hiking Trail. After one mile go left onto the Cherry Mountain Road (unpaved); if you want to add a 3½-mile side trip to the summit of Mt. Martha, take the Cherry Mountain Hiking Trail when it splits to the left at the "height of the land." Otherwise, keep going past several private cabins and turn right onto the gravel road, Mill Brook Road, marked FR93. After one mile more, find the gated Mt. Mitten Road on the left, where foot and bike travel are welcome. This road goes through remote country for several miles and reaches Jefferson Notch Road, where you turn right (uphill) and may meet cars. Don�t try the Caps Ridge Hiking Trail, it doesn�t work for bikes; stay with the Jefferson Notch Road past Bretton Woods Cascades and finally meet the paved base Station Road, where you go right (west) for five miles to find Route 302. A right on Route 302 brings you back to the trailhead.
Two lesser-known trails, the Tunnel Brook Trail and the aptly named Mountain Bike Trail, run north-south between Warren and Route 116, offering a pleasant stop at Long Pond and plenty of stream crossings as you slip between the mountain peaks to either side. A White Mountain National Forest map helps to find and pursue these trails; you can get one at any of the ranger stations (Laconia, Gorham, Conway, and the National Forest Information Station at Campton, which is Exit 28 from Interstate 93), or by writing to the Forest Supervisor at 719 Main Street, Laconia, NH 03246; call ahead ( 528-8721) and check this year�s fee for the very comprehensive trail map, which should be $5 or less.
Meet fellow bikers at the annual Mt. Washington Valley Fat Tire Festival at Bear Notch Ski Touring Center in Bartlett, usually the third weekend of September (confirm at 374-2277).
There�s a map specialized for wheels: the Mountain Bike Map of the Mount Washington Valley, put out by Mountain Cycle Guide Services and available for about $6 at the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center as well as many bike shops in the region. The map includes a number of expert and remote trails, like the Livermore Trail from the Kancamagus Highway at Lily Pond along Flume Mountain, and the trail over Cranmore Mountain to Black Cap Mountain from North Conway (see On Foot). The map also details trails like the Lower Nanamocomuck Ski Trail, which starts from the Bear Notch Road, and the Hales Location Trails off West Side Road outside North Conway.
And the village of Jackson offers its own recreation map and guide, describing five mountain bike rides on town roads and approved trails, plus road biking loops that range from 5½ to 45 miles. Call the Jackson Resort Association to purchase a copy ( 383-9456 or 800-866-3334).
For a breathtaking downhill adventure, the ski areas in the region will hoist you and your wheels to the top of the peak and send you flying down: Attitash Bear Peak ( 800-223-7669), Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Loon Mountain, and Waterville Valley. Waterville Valley (base camp, 236-4666), in fact, offers a tremendous range of mountain-biking trails and guided rides, as well as a top-notch bike shop, and has unusually low family prices that include bike, in-line skate, and canoe use with the lodging; see Where to Stay.
You can blend bike touring with elegant evening lodging and dining through Bike the Whites (Box 37, Intervale, NH 03845; 800-448-3534), which sets up self-guided tours that travel inn to inn, about 20 miles a day. Your luggage is transported for you each day, your bicycle gets stored under cover at night, there�s emergency assistance, and bike rentals are available too. Participating inns are The Forest (Intervale), Snowvillage Inn (Snowville), and the Tamworth Inn (Tamworth). Now that�s a vacation! Visit their Web site at www.bikethewhites.com.
? WARNING: Designated wilderness areas are off-limits to bikes, for the sake of often fragile plants. This includes the Great Gulf, Pemigewasset, Presidential Range/Dry River, and Sandwich Range Wildernesses. The good news is that each of these regions is surrounded by miles of open cycling terrain. And the White Mountain National Forest ranger stations will help with route planning, too.
Bike Shops & Outfitters
Almost all the region�s bike shops are open seven days a week, year-round, and provide rentals and repairs.
? Boarder Town Bikes, in North Conway (Route 16) and in Glen (Route 302), 888-860-3561.
? Joe Jones Ski and Sports, in North Conway (Main Street in the village center), 356-9411.
? The Bike Shop, in North Conway at Mt. Valley Mall Blvd., 356-6089.
? Ragged Mountain, three miles north of North Conway on Route 16/302, 356-3042.
? Sports Outlet, on Main Street in North Conway, 356-3133.
? Red Jersey Cyclery, in Glen at the junction of Routes 16 and 302, 383-4660.
? Ragged Mountain Equipment (Route 16/302, Intervale, 356-3042) offers a free leaflet with three local mountain bike rides.
? Moriah Sports at 101 Main Street in Gorham ( 466-2317) is an experienced bike shop. Mike Micucci, who wrote Mountain Biking in the Northern White Mountains, operates a guide service here. The shop, open year-round, has expertise in both mountain and road bikes, and provides route planning especially for mountain bikers on the hundreds of miles of nearby logging roads and mountain trails.
? Loon offers the Loon Mountain Bike Center in Lincoln from Memorial Day to late October ( 745-8111), with cross-country trails along the Pemigewasset River.
? At Bretton Woods ( 800-232-2972; www. Brettonwoods.com) there�s a "summer park" with a lift-serviced and cross-country trail network and rentals of front and full suspension bikes.
? Cranmore in North Conway ( 356-5543; sports center, 356-6301) also has a full-service rental shop.
? Another specialized biking resort is Great Glen Trails on Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, north of Gorham, 466-2333. This is also the center to contact about road races on Mt. Washington. Shuttles are available; trail fees and bike passes run under $10 per day per adult, and season passes are a great deal.
? If you prefer a guided adventure on wheels, hitch up with Northern Extremes Bike Tours & Water Sports ( 383-8117 in Glen, next to Patch�s Market on Route 302).
? On & In The Water
Canoe touring or whitewater? Take your pick. Or kayaks! Saco Bound Downeast has been providing rentals, route planning, and guided trips and tours for years. Its headquarters is on Route 302 in Center Conway, 447-2177 (www.neoutdoors.com/sacobound). At Great Glen Trails on Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, north of Gorham, Mad River Canoe ( 466-2333) is establishing a demonstration site, so count on Great Glen for more support and rentals.
? CAUTION: If you�re going out on the rivers alone, study the Appalachian Mountain Club River Guide first, then walk or (second best) drive the route to check on recent blowdowns and especially on changes in old dams and other water-related structures. Whitewater in the North Country takes expertise; if you�re new to the sport, join a guided group first or paddle with someone who has already run the river this season.
The rivers most interesting to run in this region are the Pemigewasset (starts in Franconia Notch as a stream and builds quickly south, until it gets interesting around Waterville Valley); the Mad River (runs through Waterville Valley and Campton, with miles of continuous rapids); the Ammonoosuc (famous for whitewater; runs from Bretton Woods/Twin Mountain area all the way to Woodsville to the southwest); the Gale (Franconia to the Ammonoosuc); the Swift (incredible whitewater along the Kancamagus Highway); the Saco (exciting whitewater for expert paddlers; rafters love this one too); and the Ossipee, which meets the Saco. For all of these, the most dramatic thrills are during spring runoff, but it�s not a time for beginners to test the water. There are sections of the Gale, the Mad, the Pemigewasset, the Swift, and the Saco that rate Class IV difficulty on the whitewater runs, and for several, covered boats are necessary. Go for it but go prepared.
For a whitewater run of more moderate difficulty, try the Saco from Bartlett to North Conway. The put-in is at the iron bridge in Bartlett, where there�s parking and access. The first stretch of eight miles has a swift current with frequent rapids, and suffers from fallen trees in the stream at the outside of many turns. The river changes to quickwater rather than rapids at Humphrey�s Ledge, just beyond the eight mile point. There�s a possible takeout 3½ miles later at the North Conway bridge, but if you have time, keep going for another eight miles to the covered bridge at Conway, with some excitement just before the end as the Swift River comes in and the rapids start. Another finish is 2.75 miles farther at yet another covered bridge, in Center Conway.
For a relaxed summer paddle, head for the Waterville Valley Resort ( 236-4666), where you can paddle comfortably on Corcoran�s Pond (rentals available). If that�s too gentle, check out Ski Fanatics in Campton just down the road on Route 49 ( 726-4327) for a "funyak" rental (a sort of modified kayak) and head for the Pemigewasset River. Ski Fanatics also has a rental shop for the Saco River, located next to Eastern Slope Campground on Route 16 in Conway ( 447-5571); they rent canoes there and have river shuttles to get you back to where you started.
You can have a family-friendly lake paddle in Franconia Notch at Echo Lake, where canoes and paddleboats are rented ( 823-5563) and there�s a nice swimming beach.
Canoe & Kayak Outfitters
There are plenty of places to rent canoes and kayaks around the Saco River. Here are a few:
? Northern Extremes Bike Tours and Water Sports, Route 302, Glen, 383-8117 (also rents river tubes and inflatable boats).
? Saco Valley Canoe at the State Line Store, Route 302, Center Conway, 447-2444 or 800-447-2460.
? Saco Bound Canoe & Kayak, Center Conway, 447-3801.
? Saco River Canoe Rental Company, Conway, 447-2737.
? Canoe King of New England, North Conway, 356-5280.
? Rubber raft rentals: Joe Jones North Shop, Route 16/302, Intervale, 356-6848.
Fishing has always been one of the big draws of the White Mountains; trout still abound and make for challenges of mind against instinct. There�s good lake fishing in the Waterville Valley area at Russell Pond on Tripoli Road and at Campton Pond at the lights; the nearby Mad River is stocked with trout. To enhance your success at fly-fishing, take a course at the Waterville Valley Base Camp ( 236-4666). Waterville Valley�s town recreation department on Noon Peak Road rents fishing poles (don�t forget your state license). Call ahead to the Rec. Department at 236-4695 and find out about fishing programs for learners as well.
Another trout-stocked water body is Profile Lake, where you can quietly angle under the gaze of the Old Man of the Mountain; no motors allowed. Farther north, around Lincoln and North Woodstock, take to the streams at the East Branch of the Pemigewasset. And when you reach the Conway region, there�s Conway Lake, Crystal Lake, and targeting trout and salmon on the Swift and Saco Rivers.
The Connecticut River offers trout fishing and more: Check out the lakes at Comerford and Moore Dams outside Littleton for big-fish angling. These are also good for ice fishing, and large enough for sailboats to enjoy, too.
Lake Tarleton in Warren was about to become part of the White Mountain National Forest as this book went to press; ask at the ranger stations for information on boating there. It will be the largest lake in the national forest. The lake is a wonderful trout fishing spot.
For a truly luxurious fishing vacation, consider the 65-acre estate at Nestlenook Farm Resort in Jackson ( 383-0845), where Emerald Lake is privately stocked with trout, and gear can be rented.
? On Route 16 north of North Conway village, North Country Angler ( 356-6000) offers equipment as well as fly-tying school and fly-fishing instruction at Nereledge Inn (see Where to Stay).
Swimming is possible in every stream and river. At Echo Lake State Park in North Conway, reached by heading north of the village and turning left on the River Road (look for the state park signs); you can watch the climbers on White Horse and Cathedral Ledges between plunges into the water. Rocky Gorge on the Kancamagus Highway doesn�t really allow swimming but will give you a midsummer treat with cool river water to wade in and plenty of hot sunny rocks for sitting and sunbathing. At Franconia Notch there�s a lovely swimming beach at the smaller Echo Lake, accessed by exits 2 and 3 from the Franconia Notch Parkway. And there�s nothing to stop you from having a relaxing dip at the Moore Dam picnic area at Exit 44 from Interstate 93. Riverside campgrounds offer good places for swimming too; in Gorham, Moose Brook State Park even includes a warming pool and a swimming pool as it taps into the Perkins and Moose Brooks (see Where to Stay). And the Jefferson Inn on Route 2 in Jefferson promises the "world�s best swimming pond" across the road, stream fed and clean with a sandy beach and floating dock; call ahead for reservations ( 586-7998).
For a really different dip, duck into the cascades and pools at Jackson Falls in the village of Jackson next to Route 16B just above the Jackson Community Church. Or slip down to the Saco River in Glen: From the junction of Routes 16 and 302, take 302 south for 2.2 miles and turn left onto West Side Road, measuring another 2.4 miles to where the river comes close to the road if you park on the right you can scramble down the bank and cross the river to the gravel beach on the other side, a spot called Humphrey�s Ledge.
? With Llamas & On Horseback
Many of the early trails in the White Mountains were first traveled on horseback. The grand inns offered carriage rides to the summits of the peaks, too.
Today most horseback travel is based at the inns, with a few stables scattered around the North Country. If you love to watch fine horseflesh perform, you�ll be deeply satisfied with the Equine Festival on the third weekend of August at the Fields of Attitash in Bartlett; a $50,000 prize on the last of the five days of the festival is an additional draw.
Starting from the south end of the region, there�s Waterville Valley Riding Stables ( 236-4811) with guided trail rides during summer and winter, as well as pony rides for children, and hayrides. Loon Mountain ( 745-8111) in Lincoln also offers trail rides at varied paces, and self-designed rides for experts. Attitash Bear Peak ( 800-223-7669) in Bartlett on Route 302 has daily horseback riding. In Franconia both the Franconia Inn and the Mittersill Resort provide horses to ride; see Where to Stay.
An impressive stable at the Mount Washington Hotel ( 278-1000) on Route 302 in Bretton Woods lets experienced riders head out on the trails for scenic rambles. Or head for the Franconia Inn in Franconia, where experienced guides take you trail riding through the Easton Valley (reserve rides by calling 823-5542; the inn is two miles south on Route 116 from the center of Franconia, reached from Exit 38 of Interstate 93).
For a twist, consider riding in a carriage or wagon or even buggy. These abound in the Conway area: Horse n� Around ( 356-6033), Farm by the River ( 356-2694), Nestlenook Farm ( 383-0845 in Jackson, Victorian carriage), and Madison Carriage House ( 367-4605 in Madison, south of Conway).
Finally, walking with a llama is perhaps the ultimate relaxation. The llama gentle, strong and slow-paced carries the food and comforts and slows you down enough to really appreciate the mountains around you. Snowvillage Inn ( 447-2818 or 800-447-4345) in Snowville, south of Conway, puts together occasional llama hikes; call ahead for scheduling.
Open Door Bed and Breakfasts, a consortium of Mt. Washington Valley inns, sometimes offers llama trekking; write to them at PO Box 1178, North Conway, NH 03860 ( 800-300-4799).
? On Snow & Ice
The splendor of autumn in the White Mountains comes from the glorious fall foliage, red and gold across the slopes and along the rivers, and also from the crisp clear air that promises snowflakes a few weeks away. For ski, snowshoe, and winter hike lovers, that autumn air raises the adrenaline and the expectations: Excitement is a mere turn of the season away.
Figure on winter arriving by the end of October in the mountains, and early November in the valleys. It definitely lasts through March and, in the higher elevations, often into May. Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington starts its ski season in March and may continue into July!
Being well prepared for the cold and wind makes winter a lot more enjoyable. The other key to winter fun is to get outside and do things; that way your time snuggling next to the fireplace is a well-earned reward and a perfect contrast to the day�s events. You can start by choosing and even cutting your own Christmas tree at a tree farm like The Rocks in Bethlehem, taking a moonlight snow walk on the trails around a country inn, or shopping in the festive evening atmosphere of ski resort towns like North Conway and Waterville Valley. Sleigh rides abound all winter.
Or you can get more active: Every country inn, and nearly every bed and breakfast inn, is close to or even includes trails for cross-country skiing. The entire White Mountain National Forest is open to skiers and snowshoers. There are downhill ski slopes with thousands of feet in elevation to explore. And there�s the formidable challenge of extreme skiing, especially in Tuckerman Ravine but also on other mountain slopes. Snowboarders will find a variety of slopes available too, whether sharing with the skiers or on special halfpipes and other boarding specialties.
So, what are you going to try first?
Waterville Valley Resort Area
The numbers speak for themselves: 255 acres, 2,020 feet vertical drop, 96% snowmaking coverage, 4,004 feet elevation, 49 trails, and 12 lifts, including a high-speed detachable quad. In addition to the ski shop and snowboard shop, Waterville offers a base camp that it calls "nature�s own theme park," where cross-country skis and snowshoes take you out onto trails around the White Mountains. Waterville Valley was built exactly for this, the dream child of one of the first and foremost ski developers in New England. The beautifully designed resort enhances the valley. There�s also an ice skating arena and athletic club. The resort passport provides access to all of these, plus lodging, a shuttlebus, and entertainment such as fireworks, magic shows, bonfires, and rides on the trail-grooming "cats." For kids, there are age-specialized ski programs, and two lifts are dedicated to little beginners and novices.
A number of prestigious snow races take place at Waterville each year. There�s also a course for recreational racing. And the resort offers an adaptive ski program that gets mentally and physically challenged children out onto the slopes, free from wheelchairs or braces. Check out their Web site at www. waterville.com or call 800-468-2553 for information and reservations.
The White Mountain National Forest also provides cross-country skiing near Waterville Valley Resort. If you take Exit 28 from Interstate 93, head east on Route 49 for 5½ miles and look for the parking area. Another access is at the 8.1-mile point, also providing parking. Both lead to the Smarts Brook ski trails, which vary from 0.5 to four miles long and are designated for intermediate and advanced (not beginning) skiers. Some are designated for one-way travel. Difficulty ratings are posted at each trail junction. A map of the trails is available from the National Forest Information Station at Exit 28, as well as at most of the other White Mountain National Forest ranger stations. From the first access point at 5½ miles from Interstate 93 there�s a choice of four trails; the second access point, farther away from the highway, is to the Old Waterville Road Trail, which you�ll have to ski for about two miles before you reach the other loops of trails.
There�s another national forest ski trail that�s even closer to the Waterville Valley resort: Livermore Road ski trail. Note that the resort charges a fee for its trails (which are groomed), so if you ski over into that area, be ready to pay up. To reach this trail, from I-93 take Exit 28 to Route 49. When you reach the start of Tripoli Road on your left, follow Tripoli Road 1.3 miles to the access road for Mt. Tecumseh ski area, where you bear right and go 0.5 mile. Turn right and cross the bridge, bearing left to the parking area. When you take the right-hand fork you are on the Livermore Road ski trail, which heads northwest toward the Kancamagus Highway; when you take the left fork instead, you�re headed for the Greeley Ponds Cross-Country Trails and will reach the lower pond in three miles. Use caution on the last 0.3 mile to the pond, which can be a slippery descent.
It�s hard to choose between Loon and Waterville Valley on the basis of ski facilities: Loon has a 2,100-foot vertical drop, peak elevation of 3,050 feet, 43 trails on 250 acres, and 97% snowmaking coverage. The Children�s Center has lots of space. Skiers can glide all the way down into town on two recently built trails. Snowboarders appreciate the 100 x 300-foot half-pipe and the snowboard park.
Choose instead on the surroundings. Where Waterville Valley is a self-sufficient resort enclosed by mountains, Loon is more open, and close to town. Condominiums nestle on the hillsides along Route 112 (a.k.a. the Kancamagus Highway), and there�s the Mill at Loon Mountain, an event grandstand and shopping extravaganza par excellence. By the way, Loon offers special three-day clinics for "women at play," as well as weekly "Flying 50s" programs for mature skiers. Other pluses: a wildlife theatre, a children�s theatre, and night tubing on a beginner trail with lights. There�s also a cross-country center with skis and snowshoes available, as well as a skating arena. Children especially remember the storytelling by the Mountain Man and Friends, a long-time area tradition.
The resort specializes in lift-and-lodging packages; call ahead at 745-8111, ext. 5400, to reserve tickets and services. For snow conditions, 745-8100; for cross-country information, 745-8112.
Nordic skiers will exult in the great cross-country access along the Kancamagus. The Greeley Ponds Cross-Country Trails can be accessed here, 9.3 miles east of Interstate 93 (Exit 32); look for the marked parking area, and the trailhead is 0.2 mile farther east.
About six miles farther away from the Lincoln end of the Kancamagus, or 18 miles west of Conway, is Lily Pond, where there�s a small parking area on the north side of the highway. The Upper Nanamocomuck starts to the east of the pond at an elevation of 2,070 feet, and includes a steep downgrade plus a narrow bridge at the end of the "run," making the trail challenging for even advanced skiers. (This difficult stretch is only a mile long, so you can take it slowly if you like.) The entire trail is 9.6 miles long and comes out at Bear Notch Road, the scenic connector between the Kancamagus and Route 302. There�s a plowed turn-around and roadside parking on Bear Notch Road, about 0.75 mile north of the Kancamagus. You will have descended to 1,340 feet, a respectable drop! Occasionally there may be some logging in the winter woods; you�ll know it�s a tree-harvesting year if part of the route is actually plowed for trucks, in which case it�s up to you to keep an ear out for the heavily laden vehicles (although they are rare). Otherwise, listen for chickadees, blue jays, and red squirrels, and you may even see a moose near the ponds.
? WARNING: Don�t try to cross the Swift River at places that aren�t marked as crossings; the water doesn�t freeze, despite an occasional glaze of ice, and the current is swift and cold.
A third cross-country section is closer to Conway, just 12½ miles west of the Saco Ranger Station. There�s a 10-car parking lot by the skier symbol on the south side of the Kancamagus Highway, and the East Loop (two miles) of the Oliverian/Downes Brook ski trail starts here. Novices may prefer the West Loop (1.35 miles), which has its own trailhead and parking area another 1½ miles west on the Kancamagus. There�s a connector (0.5 mile) between the two loops.
? CAUTION: Note that these back-country ski trails are not patrolled; take someone skiing with you, and be sure to leave your route and planned return time with someone at home in case of trouble. After all, if you want a wilderness adventure, you�re going to have some risks that a groomed trail wouldn�t have.
Snowmobile travel doesn�t suit everyone, but local residents will assure you there�s no quicker way of getting out to the winter woods or going cross-country to the jamborees that local clubs put together. If you want to look into the sport, stop in East Conway on Route 113 to visit the Town & Country Polaris Snowmobile Rental Center ( 939-2698). To get there, you�ll take Route 16 to where it meets 113 and actually leave New Hampshire briefly as Route 113 enters Fryeburg, Maine then heads to the left (north alongside the Fryeburg Post Office) and goes 1½ miles to the snowmobile center. In addition to rentals, there are guided snowmobile tours take an hour to a week; call ahead for guide availability.
North Conway & Intervale
Cranmore ( 356-5543, 800-786-6754; www.cranmore.com) calls itself New England�s hottest family resort, set in the heart of New England�s oldest and favorite ski town. The resort is located off Route 16, north of the town. It can justly claim to be a birthplace of American skiing under the leadership of Hannes Schneider. Although the vertical drop is a modest 1,200 feet, the 36 trails include sunny southwest exposure, there�s 100% snowmaking coverage, the six lifts include a high-speed detachable quad, and there�s night skiing on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, as well as holidays. A snowboard half-pipe and snowboard park add to the fun. Count on great views of the White Mountains and lots of attention for kids and other beginners. Slopeside lodging is available ( 800-SUN N SKI).
Cross-country skiers in the North Conway area can take advantage of a 65-km trail network put together by Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring. This is basically an inn-to-inn set of loops, with two centers: one on Route 16 in Intervale at Joe Jones North, a ski and sports shop with instructors; and the other on Route 16A, parallel to 16 but just to the east, where there�s an official ski touring warming hut and waxing room and the New England Inn. Full moon ski tours, a chocolate festival, and a free ski week are set season-to-season, so call for dates ( 356-9920). Day passes for the trail network cost about $10 or less; season passes are a great buy.
Attitash Bear Peak has 45 ski trails to swoop down 1,750 feet of vertical drop at Attitash and 1,450 feet at Bear Peak, with 10 lifts to get you back to the two peaks. Snowmaking covers 98% of the trails. There�s also a brand-new slopeside hotel, the Grand Summit, picking up on the area tradition of luxurious mountain lodging. Snowboarding hits are scattered among the trails. There are two base lodges, and plenty of ski and snowboard programs, including versions that guarantee you�ll swooping the slopes in just one day (age seven and up). Both information and reservations are at 374-2368 or 800-223-SNOW; www.attitash.com. The resort is on Route 302. Recent additions include a new triple chairlift and 52 more acres of expanded ski areas that should give the resort the most skiable terrain in New Hampshire, according to its managing director.
Black Mountain ( 383-4490 or 800-475-4669; e-mail ski@ blackmt.com) is a small ski resort on Route 16B north of Jackson village, and its family-friendly atmosphere and low lift prices make it especially attractive for novices and family vacations. The Jackson Academy of Skiing, a base lodge with cafeteria and day care, and children�s programs are added to a variety of ski-and-stay programs using local inns, hotels, and condominiums. There�s even a special slope reserved for snow tubing, where you must rent your tube, and you get a snow tube lift ticket. The vertical drop is a respectable 1,100 feet, with four lifts serving 30 trails, and nearly complete snowmaking coverage. Look for the gentle learning slopes and the more traditional winding trails with scenic views.
Winter is a romantic time at Nestlenook Farm Resort ( 383-9443 or 800-659-9443) in Jackson, on Dinsmore Road. Horse-drawn Austrian sleigh rides take you through the Emerald Forest. There�s also ice skating on Emerald Lake, and snowshoeing over the 65-acre estate. Rentals are available by the hour or day; the resort recommends the trail to Widdlesworth Overlook, for a view of Mt. Washington.
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation on Route 16A provides more than 150 km of groomed trails that interlace the village and lead to mountain vistas and through river valleys (up to 154 km total). Daily use is about $10 per adult, with children nine and under free; there�s a good annual membership rate if you�re staying a while. Call for reservations and lodging information ( 383-9355; for snow conditions, 800-927-6697; www.xcski.org/jacksonxc). Stay-and-ski packages connect with local inns. There are new extended trails that take in changes of elevation to challenge more experienced skiers, too. And a special three km of trails near Nestlenook Farm have been reserved exclusively for snowshoers, including hills that give views of the Ellis River Valley up to the summit of Mt. Washington (call Nestlenook for information specific to snowshoe trails: 383-0845). Keep in mind that Jackson has a winter carnival week, usually in mid-January, when things will be even more festive (and maybe a tad crowded; confirm the dates at 383-9356 or 800-866-3334).
Love the drama of a great drop? Wildcat�s 2,100 vertical feet and fierce double-diamond trails are a must for adventurous skiers. The resort boasts "glorious glades" and a choice of groomed or untouched powder, with 174" of snowfall each year. Six lifts serve 40 trails, and snowmaking gives complete trail coverage. Best of all, you look across Pinkham Notch at Mt. Washington itself from the peak of Wildcat. Call ahead for snow information and lodging (snow and weather, 888-SKI-WILD; lodging and reservations, 888-4-WILDCAT; information 800-255-6439; www.skiwildcat.com).
If you can give up the ease of lifts and tows in exchange for wilderness skiing, the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center is your base camp. Always check in here to find out about avalanche a nd snow conditions in Tuckerman Ravine and other changeable parts of Mt. Washington before you start out. There�s also a logbook to sign if you want to leave a record of when you headed out and where you planned to be, although it�s not checked by staff unless there�s an emergency reported. Spring skiing at Tuckerman is New England�s most intense adventure, and needs careful preparation and the right gear weather on this mountain is unpredictable and often life-threatening, and if you get lost or need rescue, you�ll probably have to pay some part of the bill for rescue services. So start with a buddy who�s already experienced with winter ski touring or ravine skiing, take appropriate precautions, and consider signing up for an AMC guided introduction to the winter wilderness before it�s just you and the mountain vying for control.
Get in touch with the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center & Lodge, Box 298, Gorham, NH 03581 ( 466-2727) or take a planning visit to both the visitor center (on Route 16) and the Forest Service Androscoggin Ranger Station ( 466-2713; will give avalanche bulletins and weather conditions) at the north end of Pinkham Notch, where there�s a video to help prepare you. And remember, this isn�t the only direction for ascending Mt. Washington: for spring skiing especially, when the Tuckerman Ravine crowd makes the Pinkham Notch center seem overloaded, consider heading up the west side of the mountain to the cog railway base and skiing from there.
MORE ABOUT TUCKERMAN RAVINE
The Forest Service Androscoggin Ranger Station (300 Gen Road, Gorham, NH 03851) has a brochure on Tuckerman Ravine that answers some of the basics: Tuckerman spring skiing begins in late March, there are no lifts, and you�re carrying all your gear from Pinkham Notch. There are limited shelters at Hermit Lake, with reservations advised. This is the only camping area in the ravine. The mouth of the ravine is at 3,800 feet elevation at Hermit Lake, 2.4 miles up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from the base camp. Another half-mile of trail takes you to the floor of the bowl, which rises from 4,300 to 5,100 feet. Expect to hike an average of three hours to get to the beginning of a ski run! And you may still have to wait for others to get out of the way on narrow sections of trails, as this is a crowded time. If all you want to do is watch, head for the jumble of boulders at the north side of the ravine called the Lunch Rocks. Pay attention to avalanche and falling ice warnings posted along the way.
? CAUTION: Tuckerman�s avalanches, falling ice, and boulders with great holes in the snow mean it�s a hazardous place to ski. Most avalanches occur right after a snowstorm or during it; check warnings and, if in doubt, don�t go. Expert skills, proper equipment, and good judgment are needed to ski it safely. Best recommendation: Always hike up the way you�re going down, so you can see this day�s obstacles and dangers. And ski out before the afternoon gets late enough to cast shadows that create treacherous ice.
Randolph & The Northern Presidentials
For a taste of wilderness skiing that�s a tad more moderate than Mt. Washington�s version, Randolph offers superb lower altitude back-country skiing, cross-country, and snowshoeing on many of the trails described in the book Randolph Paths. Snowcover is reliable. Refer to On Foot for a description of some of the trails that lead from Appalachia and the other Randolph-area trailheads. South of Route 2 there are sparkling vistas of winter woods and frozen waterfalls on trails like the Valley Way, Amphibrach, Link and the Sylvan Way. North of Route 2 there are loop trails in the vicinity of Randolph Hill, as well as a lumber road that runs from east to west about a half-mile north of Randolph Hill Road; connect to it with the Carlton Notch, Mount Crescent, and Ice Gulch Trails and the Cook Path.
Another plus of skiing the Randolph side of the Presidentials is that the Randolph Mountain Club keeps its Gray Knob lodge open year-round, on Nowell Ridge on Mt. Adams. All three of the adjacent mountains, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson, develop excellent snowfields for expert skiers (but you also need to be able to assess avalanche danger).
? CAUTION: If you ski above the treeline, your skis should be made for back-country use, which means sturdy fiberglass; skins (a rougher surface added to the ski bottoms) help with the uphill climb, although red wax or Klister can also be used. Skills required for the downhill slide are sustained snowplowing, quick jump turns, or telemark step turns you�ve got to get safely around those trees!
By the way, ice climbers head for Randolph to reach King Ravine and Great Gully; these are gorgeous climbs with deep solitude, and require expert skills and preparation.
For a slower but just as picturesque winter tramp on the mountain trails, get those showshoes on. Remember to bring ski poles, as you�re in deep snow. Also recall that winter activity can easily dehydrate hikers. Drink at least two quarts of water per day, which you need to bring warm, in insulated containers, so it won�t be ice by the time you need it.
Downhill or Nordic? Bretton Woods offers ample facilities for both sports. Alpine skiers take advantage of the Bretton Woods Mountain Resort ( 278-5000) on Route 302, about four miles east of its Twin Mountain junction with Route 3. Bretton Woods downhill features a vertical drop of 1,500 feet (peak elevation 3,100 feet), 32 trails, 98% snowmaking coverage, and five high-capacity lifts. There are two special treats: the view, and the restaurant at the top of the quad chair lift offers mountaintop dining for lunches and Saturday dinners. On Fridays and Saturdays in December through February the resort has night skiing, too, as well as entertainment in its slopeside lounge. This is skiing, resort style!
Across Route 302, based at the elegant Mt. Washington Hotel less than a mile east of Bretton Woods downhill slopes, is the Bretton Woods Cross Country Ski Area ( 278-5181 or 800-232-2972). This is a 100-km network that circles the hotel, climbs into the national forest, and even includes (for expert skiers) a mountain cabin where you can stay overnight by prior reservation! For a nifty twist on the usual trails, you can take the quad lift at the downhill resort and work your way down a cross-country trail that requires intermediate-level skills. The cross-country center offers rentals and a cafeteria, and you can lodge practically on the trails ( 278-1000 or 800-258-0330).
When you�re at Bretton Woods you�re at the north end of Crawford Notch, where there�s plenty of winter wilderness experience waiting for you. The Appalachian Mountain Club offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing workshops that start at the Crawford Notch Hostel (AMC workshop information: 466-2727, Monday through Saturday). Ice climbers also head for Crawford Notch, with the most popular routes ascending the east face of Mt. Willey, the south face of Mt. Willard, and the Frankenstein Cliffs in the southern part of the notch. Arethusa Falls, a 200-foot waterfall a little farther south, is also an ice climber�s challenge.
This might as well be a sister town to Bretton Woods, just four miles northwest on Route 302 where Route 3 intersects. Twin Mountain calls itself the snowmobile capital of the east, and offers 100 miles of groomed trails in the heart of the White Mountains. Write for a trail map: Twin Mountain Snowmobile Club, Dept. M, Box 179, Twin Mountain, NH 03595. Trail and parking area use are free, and many lodging and service establishments offer midweek specials to encourage snowmobilers to come then. Trail conditions can be checked by phone ( 846-2273 or 800-258-3609). Garneau�s Garage ( 846-5790 or 800-750-5790) is the local spot for snowmobile sales and service, as well as trailer parts and hitches; it�s located on Route 302 just west of the junction with Route 3. Also helpful is Foster�s Crossroads next door, where there is snowmobile clothing along with some parts and accessories. Both businesses issue snowmobile registrations, which you�ll need to run your rig in New Hampshire. Snowmobile Rental of New England is based at the Seven Dwarfs Motel on Little River Road, off Route 3 south of the intersection with Route 302 ( 846-5535).
Beaver Brook Ski Trails
Between Twin Mountain and Franconia Notch on Route 3 is a state wayside area called Beaver Brook. It�s four miles from Twin Mountain (eight miles from Franconia) on the south side of the road. Here is the access point for a challenging set of trail loops through hardwoods and spruce-fir forest. The three trails are flagged with blue diamonds to distinguish them from old logging roads and open spaces in the woods. At the wayside parking area three trails meet. The one furthest to the right is the only one that�s headed out (the other two are one-way toward you), so start there for the 2.3-km Beaver Loop, easiest of the three; at 0.8 km take the left fork, which will return you to the parking area. The right fork will put you on the Badger Loop, more of a challenge at 3.1 km long, returning to the parking area as the central trail. To connect to the Moose Watch Trail you go from Beaver to Badger and then, at 1.5 km from the parking lot, bear right; there are views of Garfield Ridge, Mt. Hale, North Twin Mountain, Haystack Mountain, and the Sugarloaf Mountains, with a high point 615 feet above the parking lot.
? MOOSE ALERT: Watch for evidence of moose browsing on the twigs and bark of woody plants, especially near the clear cuts in the woods. If you see one of the animals, don�t get too close, as they are unpredictable and powerful.
Cannon Mountain & Franconia Notch
Cannon Mountain ( 823-5563; snow conditions, 800-552-1234; www.nhparks.state.nh.us/cannon_mt) is the downhill slope for Franconia Notch, accessed from Exit 3 of the Franconia Notch Parkway (the sign says "Peabody Lodge"). For such a little-known resort, the vertical drop is astounding: 2,146 feet. The summit is 4,180 feet. This is no-frills, rapid, flat-out skiing, swooping down direct trails that don�t waste time winding around the woods. There are six lifts, including an aerial tramway that has a separate base area (don�t miss the nearby ski museum; see Sightseeing). The base lodge is friendly and rugged; there�s a ski shop and a practical ski and snowboard school, as well as basic day care and cafeteria.
Nordic skiers can find a lot of cross-country trails and centers nearby. There�s free access to the Franconia Notch Recreation Trail from Cannon Mountain to start with. Then there�s the Franconia Village X-C Ski Center ( 823-5542), based at the Franconia Inn on Route 116S at Exit 38 of Interstate 93. It offers 65 km of groomed trails that loop among the local inns and lodges. Staying at Lovett�s Inn or the Mittersill Resort (see Where to Stay) will put you on this trail network, as will the Pinestead Lodge, Cannon Mountain House, and the Horse & Hound.
Above the village of Franconia is Sugar Hill, where 30 km of cross-country ski trails, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowshoeing, and tobogganing add up to unforgettable winter adventures at Sunset Hill House, an elegant inn and resort with incredible views. Treat yourself by staying there ( 823-5522 or 800-SUN HILL; see Where to Stay), or just stop by and register at the inn or warming hut before you use the historic trail network. Dinner at the inn could be a glorious finale; you�ll want to dress up for the occasion.
Between Cannon Mountain and Franconia village are the Lafayette Ski Trails, a network provided by the White Mountain National Forest, unpatrolled and with a few good challenges. The main trail is the 2.1-mile Notchway, which is on an easy grade but gains 441 feet in elevation. Some shorter side-trails like the Scarface and Bickford trails are more difficult. To find the trails, from Interstate 93 take Exit 36 onto Route 141 and go east about 100 yards. There�s a metal sign on the south side of the road, along with parking. The other end of the network is accessed from Echo Lake parking lot at Cannon Mountain.
There are no established facilities for winter activities at Mt. Moosilauke, and the steep slopes and icy weather make it a risky place to hike if you�re not already experienced in snow survival. But it�s worth mentioning as a wilderness goal for hardy adventurers; check each year for possible Appalachian Mountain Club guided winter hikes there as training, or connect with a local guide firm like Profile Mountaineering (Lincoln; see On Foot) for support and suggestions. The Dartmouth Outing Guide also gives suggestions for winter hikes here, with cautions on which trails are toughest.
Along the Connecticut River Valley
An unusual guided tour service for snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers is given by Northern Land Services of Bethlehem ( 869-2634), where vacations can be customized by connecting with local guides and establishments. Bethlehem is also the site of two Christmas tree farms: the Rocks ( 444-6228), and Finnegan�s Fine Firs ( 444-6275).
? In The Air
Soar near the summit of Mt. Washington in a three-seat Schweizer glider when you take off from Mt. Washington Sky Adventures in Gorham ( 466-5822 or 800-353-2873; home, 466-3650). This unique air operation also includes a 1942 Stearman biplane and a six-passenger twin-engine Piper Aztec. The airport is on Route 16 as it bends through the town and intersects with Route 2.
Franconia Airport offers warm-weather airtime at Franconia Soaring Center, 823-8881, specializing in glider rides but also offering a scenic and exciting ride in an authentic 1939 Waco UPF-7 biplane. There�s a picnic area at the airport where your friends or family can relax as you take to the air.
Both airfields use federally licensed pilots and have incredibly reasonable prices for an adventure that most people will never have the equipment to try out on their own. Call ahead for reservations and options, which may vary according to weather conditions.
There�s a one-man air operation at Whitefield, working from the Mt. Washington Regional Airport, a small strip southeast of town; take Route 3 south 1½ miles to Colby Road, where you turn left and go another 1½ miles to Airport Road. George Graber offers 15-minute scenic flights over Mt. Prospect and the Weeks Estate ( 802-892-6109).
Heading north into the White Mountains on Interstate 93, Exit 28 provides both a state information center and a national forest one. It�s a great stop, even if you�re not planning to take Route 49 on into Waterville Valley, where a large and lovely valley resort provides access to hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and year-round trails in the White Mountain National Forest.
North Woodstock & Lost River
Exit 33 from the interstate takes you into North Woodstock, home of Clark�s Trading Post (one mile south on Route 3; 745-8913). This vacation attraction (open mid-May to mid-October) dates to 1928 and is a summer playground of steam railroad, bumper boats, and a Main Street of early Americana along with a "mystical mansion." There�s a family of native black bears, trained to entertain and clearly enjoying themselves. And there�s the largest gift shop in the mountains. You get a chance to dip candles or be photographed in frontier-style clothes, all enlivened by music from restored nickelodeons. It�s a light-hearted New Hampshire vacation tradition.
Take Route 112 west from Exit 33 for six miles to reach Lost River, 745-8031, where you�ll climb through caves and around waterfalls, and have a chance to explore the geology of a stunning natural gorge where the river plays hide-and-seek with the rocks. The self-guided tour takes about an hour. Do wear clothes that can handle a trail of ups and downs (picture boardwalks and stairs) and optional cave crawling, plus there�s a nature garden, ecology trail, and historical display. The gift shop is next to the cafeteria. This unusual attraction is actually owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which is why the natural history displays are so well developed. Open mid-May to mid-October.
By the way, in North Woodstock village there�s an indoor climbing wall for extra practice before you head to the slopes; it�s at the Pemi Valley Rock Gym on Main Street at the Alpine Village ( 745-9800, summers). This is a good rainy-day diversion, and outdoor instruction is also available in rock climbing (basic and intermediate) from Profile Mountaineering ( 745-3106).
There�s a great water park for the hottest days of summer in North Lincoln, also reached from Exit 33: the Whale�s Tale ( 745-8810) is a half-mile north on Route 3 and is open from mid-June to the first weekend of September. Tubes, slides, wave pools all kinds of ways to be wet and wild!
It�s easy to flow from North Woodstock to Lincoln, as the two are closely connected. If you�re arriving directly from Interstate 93, though, take Exit 32 and turn east onto Route 112, the Kancamagus Highway. There�s a White Mountains Attractions visitor center immediately on the right, and when you head east into town you�ll find a series of craft shops and art galleries on the left. Immediately after those shops is the left turn onto Connector Road that takes you to the Hobo Railroad ( 745-2135, information year-round), a turn-of-the-century-style station where you can catch a scenic ride though the woods along the Pemigewasset River. There are also special dinner trains, fall foliage excursions, a July 4 party train, and trips where gold panning is taught! Although the railroad is mostly a summer and fall excursion, it often has "Santa trains" from the end of November until Christmas.
The next opportunity for sightseeing from Route 112 is on the right: The Mill at Loon Mountain ( 745-6261), which is both a cluster of lodging options for the nearby ski resort and a mall full of shops. Also at the Mill are the Papermill Theatre of North Country Center for the Arts (summers only; 745-6032 or 745-2141), and East Branch Outfitters ( 745-4806), where you can rent kayaks and canoes and ride a shuttle to the Pemigewasset River. The Mill at Loon Mountain hosts the Royal Lippizaner Stallions each September. Across the highway from the Mill is the Upper Pemigewasset Historical Museum, open Sunday and Wednesdays from 2 to 4 pm from mid-June to mid-September. Here you can bone up on early resort hotels, pulp and paper manufacturing, and founding families of the town.
Route 112 starts to ascend into the mountains, and Loon Mountain ski resort ( 745-8111; snow phone, 745-8100; www.loonmtn.com) is on your right. Held here each September are the New Hampshire Highland Games (for specific dates and tickets, call 800-358-SCOT). Even if you�re not up for skiing or hiking, the gondola at Loon Mountain will give you a spectacular view of the region. The resort also showcases music year-round, ranging from jazz to rock to impressive concerts. Call for information and dates.
This scenic highway, also known as Route 112, stretches 38½ miles from Lincoln to Conway, from the Pemigewasset River, along the Swift River, to the Saco River. It climbs to nearly 3,000 feet near Lincoln as it passes over Mt. Kancamagus. Weather permitting, it�s open year-round; there are no gas stations on most of the route, so it�s wise to fill up the car�s tank before you start up the road.
Kancamagus (can-kuh-MAG-us; "the Fearless One") was a Native American chief, grandson of Passaconaway and nephew of Wonalancet. He lived around 1684 and was the third and final Sagamon of the Penacook Confederacy. He was unable to keep peace between Native Americans and pioneers, and after much bloodshed the confederacy tribes scattered, with Kancamagus and his followers going north to upper New Hampshire or Canada. Many of the mountains in this region are named for significant Native Americans.
Driving Route 112 from Lincoln takes you past the Loon Mountain Recreation Area (ski resort that in summer is a hiking and biking haven) and past scenic overlooks and trailheads for hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers into the White Mountain National Forest. To the north are Big Coolidge Mountain and Mt. Hitchcock and Mt. Huntington; to the south are the noted peaks of Osceola (named for the great chief of the Seminoles), Kancamagus, and Tripyramid. Sabbaday Falls is a scenic treasure not to be missed, about halfway along the highway on the left side of the road; park and take the short hike (see On Foot) for one of the region�s lovely treasures.
After Sabbaday Falls comes the Passaconaway Historic Site, where you can explore the Russell Colbath House, built in the early 1800s. The poignant story of Ruth Russell Colbath�s 39-year nightly vigil of lighting a lamp for her missing husband is best appreciated when you see the very isolated and simple surroundings in which she lived.
For a little-traveled and deeply forested scenic drive, look for the left turn onto Bear Notch Road; it will take you to Bartlett, beyond North Conway, and you�ll have seen deep woods not usually accessible by car.
If you stay on the Kancamagus Highway, the next point of interest is Rocky Gorge, a scenic area on the left. This is especially striking in spring when the high turbulent water makes the river swell and roar; in the summer it�s often crowded as people enjoy sitting on the rocks in the cool stream.
As the wild part of the Kancamagus Highway ends, on the right there�s a brightly painted totem pole followed by Baldy�s Store ( 447-5287). Owner Treffle Bolduc is a snowshoe maker; he is now in his eighties and has wonderful stories to tell of the Huron Indians in Canada who taught him his art. In the back of the store is a two-room Indian museum, jammed with treasures he has collected, including wonderful snowshoes and a birchbark canoe. The store and museum are open daily through the summer and fall, although hours may change as needed to keep up with the snowshoe trade.
The final stop is on your left, the Saco Ranger Station, where there�s a huge relief map that puts the scenic road into perspective, and Forest Service rangers will help with route and adventure planning.
To the south of the last part of the Kancamagus is Mt. Chocorua (shuh-COR-oo-uh), although its rocky, pointed peak isn�t visible from this angle. There are many legends about the Sokosis chief for whom this peak was named. The best-known version declares that he left his son to stay with a family of settlers named Campbell. When the chief�s son died, possibly from poison used for foxes, the chief took revenge by murdering most of the Campbell household; the settlers then chased him to the top of the mountain that bears his name, and he jumped to his death from the highest ridge. Hiking Mt. Chocorua is a New England summer and early autumn tradition; see On Foot.
North Conway & Intervale
There�s nothing as frustrating as a classic North Conway traffic jam, which can extend miles north and south when shopping at the outlets lining the road south of the village is at its peak (many summer days and early fall). After all, who can resist a visit to the outlet for L.L. Bean ( 800-4-TANGER), long a leader in outdoor clothing and gear? And there are dozens more clothing, household goods, and gift outlets and shops to investigate. Try to miss the midsummer crunch.
On the other hand, there�s a lot of fun to be had in wandering the village of North Conway at any season. Visit sports shops and restaurants, prowl antique shops, and rub shoulders with other adventure travelers in the cream of New Hampshire�s mountain climbing centers: Eastern Mountain Sports ( 356-5433) at the north end of the village in the Eastern Slopes Inn, and International Mountain Equipment & International Mountain Climbing Store ( 356-7013) on the other side of Main Street. Anglers take note: The North Country Angler ( 356-6000) provides a great fly-fishing shop (farther north on the left side of Main Street just past the hospital turn).
In the middle of the village on Main Street is the Mt. Washington Valley visitors center, a good place to examine restaurant menus and also to check the weather conditions at the top of Mt. Washington. Across the road, on the other side of the park, is the Conway Scenic Railroad ( 356-5251 or 800-232-5251), where you can ride a train to Conway or Bartlett and back. Be sure to check the dining car schedule if you want to have lunch or dinner on board. The valley train runs on weekends as early in the year as April, and becomes daily from mid-June to mid-October. There�s also a notch train to Crawford Notch, daily during fall foliage season and five days a week earlier in the summer. Reservations are a good idea. Access to the cars is easy, and there�s boarding assistance for passengers needing special help. Special Christmas-season evening trains include memorable storytelling.
If you�re not planning to rock climb, it�s still fun to watch the climbing teams tackle Cathedral Ledge just west of town at Echo Lake State Park. Look for the state park sign and turn left on River Road at the north end of the village, and the park and ledges are less than a mile ahead. Climbing equipment may be purchased at Wild Things, back on the highway heading north. And at 1½ miles north of North Conway village is one of the area�s most popular antique shops, the Antiques & Collectibles Barn ( 356-7118).
ANTIQUING IN THE
MT. WASHINGTON VALLEY
From Conway to Intervale, antique shops line Routes 16 and 302. Just a few are listed here.
? Ellis River Antiques, Route 16, Jackson ( 383-4307), has unique furniture and antiques for the home, from rustic to primitive to Victorian.
? Intervale Farm Antiques, Route 16A, Intervale ( 356-5134), offers ephemera, vintage postcards, sheet music, and shop tools.
? Antiques & Collectibles Barn, 1½ miles north of North Conway ( 356-7118), and Main Street Antiques, North Conway ( 356-3342) are multi-dealer establishments.
? Sedler�s Antiques, North Conway ( 356-6008 or call the main shop in Georgetown, Mass., 508-352-8282), has dolls, jewelry, tools, and furniture.
? Sleigh Mill Antiques, Snowville ( 447-6791), specializes in 19th-century lighting.
When you leave North Conway on Route 16/302 north, you come to Intervale, where there�s a scenic vista overlooking Cathedral Ledge on the left. Across from the vista parking lot is a small cluster of shops, and at the south end of the cluster by the post office is Intervale Cross Road. Up this small side road is a partially preserved Native American encampment where an Abenaki scholar, Stephen Laurent, had a small shop; the shop may no longer be open, but the encampment, with its authentic birchbark tepee, is worth a thoughtful visit.
A handful of summer attractions cluster along Route 16 next: Ragged Mountain outdoor equipment and clothing, a miniature golf park, and on the left, Hartmann Model Railroad and Toy Museum ( 356-9922 or 356-9933), where there are American and world railroads laid out for fun and collecting.
New Year�s Eve is a special time for North Conway, as well as for nearby Conway, Bartlett, and Jackson, with a family-centered First Night celebration from noon to midnight. Expect to buy an admission button and then participate in song, dance, games, art, history, and outdoor events. There�s bus service between the participating towns.
When Routes 16 and 302 separate north of Intervale, it�s just another quarter-mile to a pair of theme amusement parks: Story Land and Heritage New Hampshire. Story Land ( 383-4186) is a family park featuring nursery rhyme and classic bedtime stories, ideal for small children ages four and under enter free (strollers available free), and ages up to 10 will have fun with the rides and shows. Heritage New Hampshire ( 338-9776) takes you into the state�s history, where you can meet settlers and revolutionaries, explore their homes and businesses, have a photo taken with a Civil War balloonist, and play with steam engines and trains. The park is wheelchair accessible. Both parks are summer and foliage season attractions, not winter; call ahead for prices.
In the summer, Attitash Bear Peak turns into a wild vacation spot with waterslides, the White Mountain Observation Tower, scenic chairlifts, and guided horseback rides along the Saco River. There are also big events like an early June soccer tournament, and in August a blueberry festival, a high-excitement equine festival, a rodeo, and at the end of the summer the White Mountain Jazz & Blues Festival. Call to confirm dates, which may change from year to year ( 374-2368).
One of the nicest parts about Jackson in the summer is that it�s not flashy: just a simple, lovely village enjoying the sunshine on the hills, fields, and rivers. Walking through the covered bridges and around the park is a peaceful luxury.
Glen Ellis Falls are about 9½ miles from Jackson Village. The falls are so close to the road that it�s not fair to call them a hike! They�re most impressive in spring or right after a rain storm, but lovely any time. Park in the Glen Ellis Falls parking area on the left, then go through the tunnel under Route 16 and down the stone walkway and stairs (you are on work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s) note that there are more than 150 steps to go down. There are several overlooks before the falls, only a third of a mile from the road; the falls drop 66 feet.
Next on the left is the Appalachian Mountain Club Pinkham Notch Visitor Center ( 466-2727). This is the base camp for hikers and skiers headed up Mt. Washington from this side of the mountain, and is also a fascinating spot to stop and visit. The Trading Post sells trail guides, maps, and identification guides for plants and animals, especially the hard to find alpine plant guides. Sit on the porch and watch the wide variety of hikers go in and out; across the path is the Joe Dodge Lodge, where mountain visitors can spend the night for a small fee (see Where to Stay). If you�d like to go up the mountain but not on your own feet, head a little farther up Route 16.
Wildcat Mountain ( 466-3326), on the right as you go north up Route 16, turns pussycat with summer weather: The ski area 11 miles north of Jackson on Route 16 offers a 12-minute gondola ride to the summit, with nature trails at the top, and invites guests to run back down the 2,100-foot climb if they choose! This is also a good foliage stop, with a view of Mt. Washington.
Great Glen is on the left about 1½ miles past the entrance to Wildcat. Great Glen is the location of both a trail network and the privately owned auto road up Mt. Washington. Most recently, fees were $15 for a passenger car and driver (including an audio tour on cassette) plus $6 for each adult passenger and $4 for each child aged five to 12. Or you can ride in a van with a tour guide for $20 (children five to 12, $10). Children under five ride free. Hikers can also register at the stage office for a ride back down the mountain! This is a breathtaking ride, with narrow roadway, grades averaging 12%, and remarkable views, especially above the treeline. The summit house at the top of the mountain has restrooms, a snack bar, and a post office. You won�t be able to go into the weather observatory at the peak, but you�ll be able to see some of the records. Auto road questions can be answered at 466-3988; the season is mid-May to late October, opening at 7:30 am each day. Van tours take about 1½ hours round trip, including 30 minutes on the summit.
Great Glen Trails ( 466-2333; www.mt-washington.com), next door to the auto road, is an all-season recreational trail park. Designed for hikers, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers, the trails range from beginner level to challenging. All equipment can be rented at the base lodge. Summer programs include archery, a concert series, moonlight events, and nature tours. Winter ones add guided wildlife tours, races, and a Sno-Cat shuttle for sightseers, Nordic skiers, and snowshoers that takes you halfway up Mt. Washington and lets you stride and slide back down. There�s a ski school, trail patrol, child care, and dining.
At the north end of Pinkham Notch, just before reaching Gorham, is a left turn for Dolly Copp Campground. The road is called both Dolly Copp Road and Pinkham B. It cuts across through the forest and emerges on Route 2 in Randolph, without ever going through the bustling town of Gorham. It�s a pleasant shortcut, and a scenic drive.
This little town (population only 3,100) hosts tourists with enthusiasm, offering at last count over 600 motel rooms and 16 restaurants. About the only time it�s quiet is during "mud season" (early spring, April to mid-May), and even then there are expert skiers passing through town to get to Tuckerman Ravine.
Gorham offers visitors the Northern Forest Moose Tours, which leave the town information booth at the park on Route 16 daily from mid-June to mid-October (reservations advised, 752-6060 or 800-992-7480). These tours take no more than 24 passengers at a time in an air-conditioned van, traveling through the town�s northern neighbor Berlin and up the bank of the Androscoggin River as dusk falls, generally finding from two to 20 moose per trip (97% success rate in the past season). The van stops for passengers to climb out and take pictures of the large wild animals; if the moose are not close enough to see well from the roadside, the tour guide focuses a telephoto-lens video camera on the amazing creatures so passengers can see them "close up" on a video screen inside the van. This is also a great way for those not comfortable hiking the river banks to see active moose. The guide is knowledgeable about moose, and even more so about local history; when it gets too dark to see animals, the van turns back toward Gorham, stops briefly at Pontook Dam for restrooms and a stretch, then makes the return trip with a video on paper company and logging history shown in the van. The latest fee was $10 per person; the tour starts at 7 pm (check in at the booth by 6:30), and lasts 2½ hours.
Gorham carries the moose theme through two moose gift shops and a miniature golf course with a giant moose statue in front. Just one June or July drive up along the Androscoggin River will convince you that the town really is a moose capital.
? MOOSE ALERT: Remember to slow down at dusk and after dark; moose are hard to spot because the bulk of their bodies is higher than car headlights hit. And a moose-car collision usually totals both.
Vyron D. Lowe was a Randolph guide and founded Lowe�s Service Station and Store, located on Route 2 about two miles west of the Appalachia trailhead. The general store is still a family business and includes a service station, garage, and overnight cabins. Stop here to check on announcements of events by the Randolph Mountain Club, and to step into White Mountain tradition yourself. If you park at the store to go hiking, there�s a fee. Nearby is the start of Lowe�s Path to Mt. Adams, as well as the Vyron D. Lowe Trail to Lookout Ledge and Randolph Hill.
If you�re headed to the hiking trails of the notches, you might not even go through the center of Jefferson. There are two theme parks here that kids have explored for years: Six Gun City is a Wild West and frontier show full of animals and deputies, plus rides on a pony, a burro, a log boat, or a bumper boat. It�s open from mid-June to Labor Day and weekends to mid-October. It�s a family business; the Brady family will even help plan your visit ( 586-4592).
Santa�s Village ( 586-4445; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.santasvillage.com) starts its season at Father�s Day weekend. It�s always Christmas here, with Santa to talk to, elves to visit, and rides on the Skyway Sleigh and the Yule Log Flume. Petting the reindeer is a favorite activity. Both parks are best suited to children under 10 and their families. Call ahead for this season�s admission prices.
When you take Route 115 south from Route 2 in Jefferson Highlands toward Twin Mountain, Route 115 forms a "T" with Route 3. To reach this busy outdoor-adventurer support town you take a left. To stop first at the Twin Mountain Fish Hatchery, turn right and go north on Route 3 about a half-mile. The public part of the hatchery is to your right; park and walk along the raceways to the visitor center with its classroom and restrooms. This hatchery uses the springs that form Carroll Stream as a source of oxygen-rich water to nurture brook trout, as well as rainbow and brown trout. You�ll see the trays of fertilized eggs, and the brood fish that become part of the state stocking program after they reach three years of age. The fish and wildlife center is open daily from May to October (9 am to 4:30 pm); for guided tours you need an appointment ( 846-5108; Hatchery Superintendent, Twin Mountain, RFD1, Whitefield, NH 03598).
When you take the turn south on Route 3 you arrive at Twin Mountain�s major intersection, the traffic light crossing of Routes 3 and 302. There are plenty of restaurants and lodging here. The town recreational field recently started hosting a Native American Cultural Weekend each July; to check dates, 800-245-TWIN. This festival features dance, drumming, storytelling, and historic lectures, and costs a token fee for adults, with children admitted free.
The showpiece of Bretton Woods is the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort, a grand hotel surrounded by New England�s highest peaks. The hotel carries on a tradition of luxurious lodging in Crawford Notch, and is the last of the grand hotels to survive the years of fire and loss. Its opening on August 1, 1902, was attended by Abel Crawford himself, trailblazer of the notch. Built to the directions of railway tycoon Joseph Stickney, the hotel�s elegance came partly from the efforts of Italian master craftsmen skilled in masonry and woodworking. The hotel was later owned by Stickney�s widow, whose second marriage made her the Princess Clarigny de Lucinge; two owners later, in 1944, the hotel was the scene of an international gathering of financiers from 44 countries to reestablish world monetary exchanges following World War II. The Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference set the gold standard at $35 an ounce, gave the postwar world a badly needed currency stability, and put the hotel into history books.
Today the hotel�s Victorian elegance is protected as a National Historic Landmark and by a group of New Hampshire businessmen who now own it. It is still a vacation residence of poets, presidents, and princes, and can be visited more casually during special events like the Independence Day fireworks celebration; call for events open to the public. The Mount Washington Hotel & Resort, Route 302, Bretton Woods, NH 03575; 278-1000 or 800-258-0330.
An unforgettable way to visit the mountain peak that rises behind the grand hotel is to ride the cog railway to the summit of Mt. Washington. The railway station is not far from the hotel: Head west on Route 302 toward Twin Mountain and you�ll find a well-marked right turn that leads to the Base Station in about five miles. There are trains daily from early May through October, although they run less frequently in cooler weather; call ahead for the day�s schedule and to make reservations (strongly recommended; 846-5404 ext. 6, or 800-922-8825 ext. 6). Check on current fares, too; adult fares were recently about $40 per person, with discounts for seniors and children. The round trip lasts three hours, including a 20-minute stop at the summit. Dress warmly for the chill winds and occasional fog at the peak! Expect the train trip to be dramatic and a little bit scary: The coal-fired engines puff their way over a narrow track, suspended in places on trestles. One trestle, called Jacob�s Ladder, climbs a 37% grade, which you may never have experienced in a moving vehicle. Don�t forget your camera.
One day in 1771, Timothy Nash was tracking a moose on Cherry Mountain. When he climbed a tree to see his location better (and maybe the moose), he noticed a break, or notch, in the mountains ahead of him. He walked through the cleft in the mountains where the Saco River flowed, and made his way to Portsmouth to tell the Royal Governor, Benning Wentworth (for whom many New Hampshire places are named), about his discovery. According to Matt Dickerman�s version of the story in A Guide to Crawford Notch, the skeptical governor insisted that Nash prove the passage by bringing a horse all the way through from home. This task required the help of Nash�s friend Benjamin Sawyer, in order to hoist the horse and lower it on ropes when the rocks were too precipitous in places, but horse and men survived the trip. As a result, the two men received a land grant in Crawford Notch, named Nash and Sawyer�s location, and began work on a road and encouraging a settlement.
Look at the later period of the notch, when grand hotels lined it, in the photographs displayed at the old railroad station now owned by the Appalachian Mountain Club on Route 302 at the head (north end) of the notch. Wander on the short and scenic paths by Saco Lake and Elephant�s Head Rock across the road from the AMC Crawford Hostel, then drive down the steady descent of Route 302. Two waterfalls come down to the left side of the road; there�s parking on the right. Farther down is the Crawford Depot, headquarters of the state park here, with a museum and picnic site as well as seasonal gift shop. There�s also a nature trail here. All around you are hikers huffing and puffing up the peaks and along the ridges; if you�re not in the mood to climb up there yourself, you can enjoy a lot of Crawford Notch from the road and its adjacent scenic areas.
Franconia & Sugar Hill
These two communities at the north end of Franconia Notch make up a lovely and poetic site for a day trip, weekend, or relaxed week of exploring. The center of Franconia is at the intersection of Routes 18 and 116. If you arrive from Exit 38 of Interstate 93, Route 116 is straight in front of you. Take it for another mile to find the right-hand turn to a farmhouse where poet Robert Frost lived and wrote. Soak up the scenery, and if you dare to discover the more discouraging parts of the poet�s personal life, pay the modest museum fee and browse among stories of his hard times. Check in advance on schedules for poetry readings at The Frost Place, which in late July hosts a conference of some of America�s finest practitioners of the writing art. For information, contact Director, The Frost Place, Ridge Road, Franconia, NH 03580, 823-5510. Open weekends from Memorial Day to the end of June, then all week except Tuesdays, 1 to 5 pm through Columbus Day weekend.
When you return to Route 116 by the loop road that the museum signs point to, you won�t be far at all from Franconia�s small but active airfield (offering summer glider flights) and the delights of the Franconia Inn; turn right for both, or left to return to Franconia village.
From the same intersection in the village, Route 18 winds southeast along the Gale River, passes a well-stocked information booth, then leaves the village and begins to climb toward Cannon Mountain. Stop to explore the Mittersill Resort on your right, a recreation of Austrian chalets in a small village with stupendous mountain vistas.
If your village choice is the other direction of Route 18, past the small grocery store on the right and the bicycle shop on the left, you find Garnet Hill on your right in half a mile. This is the famous mail-order natural fiber clothing manufacturer whose catalogs you may have seen; the business is not open to the public, but in late July each year it offers a weekend tent sale at Loon Mountain in nearby Lincoln, where seconds, returns, and no longer current items are sold for prices that draw an astounding crowd. Immediately past Garnet Hill on the left is the last standing stone iron blast furnace in New Hampshire, dating to the mid-1800s when the desperate need for iron for national expansion and for the Civil War drove the local industries of iron mining and smelting, with sits companion, charcoal manufacture. There�s a brief roadside explanation of the furnace and its history; for more details, check the Sugar Hill Historic Museum (see next page).
To reach Sugar Hill, drive past the iron furnace and take the left onto Route 117, which climbs steadily uphill. If you�re here in June and early July you can see the fields of lupines blooming in pink and purple along the roadsides; these adjoining towns hold a two-week lupine festival in mid-June with events like tea parties and garden tours. Advance tickets and information, 823-5661 or 800-237-9007. On your right watch for the Sugar Hill Inn, then make a steep climb up the mountain. On the right you�ll find Polly�s Pancake Parlor (see Where To Eat), which offers a good view across the road from the parking lot. On the left is the startlingly narrow church of St. Matthew with its bright yellow door. At the crest of the hill there�s a noticeable business on the left called Sugar Hill Sampler ( 823-8478), a historic inn with a large gift shop, well worth a visit. The same left turn will take you to Sunset Hill House (see page 169), an elegant inn with walking trails and exceptional golf course; visit even if you don�t plan to dine or lodge or use the trails, just to see the magnificent panorama of both the Presidential and Kinsman Ranges.
Route 117 then descends into Sugar Hill proper, where the library and museum are on the left. On the right is Harman�s Cheese & Country Store ( 823-8000), which has possibly the state�s best cheddar, aged at least two full years. The Sugar Hill Historic Museum is open from July 1 to mid-October, usually afternoons ( 823-8142 or 823-5336) and features changing exhibits that recently included weddings from five generations of one of the town�s families; the iron industry; and the great hotel era of the 1800s. One room of the museum is a replica of a 19th-century tavern with original furnishings. In the sleigh barn you can find the elegant sleigh owned by actress Bette Davis, who vacationed here for years (find her story under On Foot, page 111).
The attractions of Franconia Notch have been described in On Foot: Cannon Mountain�s tramway to the summit, the short trail to Profile Lake to view the famous rock formation called the Old Man of the Mountain, the dark leafy coolness of the gorge called The Flume. There�s also the New England Ski Museum ( 823-7177) at Exit 2 of the Franconia Notch Parkway, open noon to 5 pm daily from December 1 to March 31 and from Memorial Day to Columbus Day (free admission). Don�t miss the vintage ski films! The Lafayette Place, farther south on the parkway, has exhibits on the natural and cultural history of Franconia Notch, as well as interpretive programs at the adjacent campground throughout the summer.
Along the Connecticut River Valley
When you�ve had enough of challenging the mountains and want to relax or indulge in some summer theater, head for the small towns along or near the Connecticut River Valley.
Littleton is a gateway town to the White Mountains at the west side of the state, and has good bookshops and a small but very interesting historical museum that features old stereoscopic slides. It�s in the lower level of the town office building at One Union Street, open Wednesdays and summer Saturdays, 1:30 to 4:30 pm, or by appointment, 444-6586, -2419, -2980, or -2637. Littleton�s Chamber of Commerce offers a walking tour brochure of the small town, as well as a map of several nature trails around the town. Don�t miss the hike up to Kilburn Crags (from Main Street go west 1½ miles from the post office, turning left with Route 135 and parking on the left after one mile more), where there are Devonian fossils to be found nearby, as well as mineral discoveries.
Bethlehem is four miles east of Littleton; its village mood and many antique shops are charming, and for many years the town has been a summer haven for visiting Hassidic Jews. Be sure to visit Bretzfelder Park, owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and home to a magnificent old memorial white pine, as well as nature trails and summer evening lectures. The Bethlehem Flower Farm, three miles east of town, offers daylilies all summer ( 869-3131).
ANTIQUING IN BETHLEHEM
Antique shops melt sweetly in and out of business in town, but at any given time there may be close to a dozen. Some of the latest shops are:
? Country Collectibles, selection of wood stoves, glass, linen furniture, tools; next to post office, 869-3991.
? Sanborn�s Little Shoppe, antiques and collectibles, across from People�s Bank, 869-2292.
? Checkered Past, 154 Guider Rd. (Exit 40 from I-93), multi-dealer group shop in 1820s barn. Open year-round, 444-6628; e-mail Kscope@ConnRiver. net.
? Carousel Antiques, across from the Colonial Theater. Bedroom, dining room and parlor sets, plus china, crystal, Nippon, decorative pieces, 869-5755.
? 3 of Cups Antiques, vintage clothing, furniture, prints, linens, kitchenware, across from Colonial Theater, 869-2606.
Many shops are open summers only, and on only a few days each week. Call ahead to be sure!
About 10 miles from both Littleton and Bethlehem is Whitefield, where the Weathervane Theatre offers professional-level repertory ( 892-9322, open July and August, reservations strongly advised).
Haverhill, Orford & Piermont
Farther south are the very photogenic river-valley towns of Haverhill, Orford, and Piermont. Orford is especially striking with its Ridge Houses, seven strikingly handsome houses built between 1773 and 1839. Piermont has a polygonal barn (a change from the classic round ones!), and Haverhill offers a village common (an unusual double common with white board fence), with lovely gardens around it, as well as Federal-era and Greek Revival houses. Just north of Haverhill is a turn worth discovering: a small road headed toward the Connecticut River and little-known Bedell Bridge Park. This may be the most peaceful spot in the river valley, with a dirt road winding among wide green fields and wetlands, ending at a picnic spot by the foundations of a long-gone bridge.
The little town of Warren can be reached via Route 25 from Haverhill or Route 25C from Piermont; there�s a state Fish and Wildlife Center here, open May through October from 9 am to 4:30 pm ( 764-8593), with interactive exhibits looking at wildlife habitat and the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon. Check out the hatchery and see the fish up close. Then take a drive into the white-clapboard village to see its curious monument, a space-rocket booster towering over the common.
Where To Stay
Bretton Woods & Twin Mountain
The single luxury resort of the White Mountains is a treasure of gracious and elegant vacationing. With a rich history and lush surroundings, the Mount Washington Hotel & Resort nurtures a mood of lavish leisure and playful diversion. From the 900-foot white veranda you can gaze across the rolling grounds to the nearby mountain peaks. The hotel offers a Modified American Plan (MAP) for lodging, which includes full dinners and breakfasts; options vary from the grand hotel to the adjacent townhomes, country inn, and motor inn. There are many vacation packages, too, including golf, carriage rides, and romantic touches like fresh flowers and candlelight. Write to or call the hotel for a packet of descriptive literature. Mount Washington Hotel & Resort, Route 302, Bretton Woods, NH 03575; 278-1000 or 800-258-0330. $$-$$$$. The resort is worth a visit even if you don�t stay there.
In addition to grand Mount Washington Hotel are some comfortable and historic lodgings. Probably the most famous is the Notchland Inn at the south end of Crawford Notch. The 1860s granite mansion has housed not only hikers but trailblazers, and there�s an eclectic library to bone up on the inn�s history (it was originally the Bemis Mansion), as well as the region�s. The Davis Path, which ascends Mt. Crawford and links to other trails leading to Mt. Washington, starts across the road from the inn. Rates are MAP, breakfast and five-course dinner included ( 374-6131 or 800-866-6131; e-mail Notchland@ aol.com; $$$$).
Twin Mountain is full of small motor inns and motels; two of them are Carlson�s Lodge on Route 302 a half-mile west of the junction with Route 3 ( 846-5501 or 800-348-5502; $-$$), and Northern Zermatt Inn and Motel on Route 3 north of the junction ( 846-5533 or 800-535-3214; $-$$).
Waterville Valley & Campton
Recall that the town, ski slopes, and adventure camp of Waterville Valley are all part of a single resort designed for year-round activities. There are inns, lodges, and condominiums offering moods that range from country charm to grand resort to practical and modern. A flat rate for a family includes adventures and equipment use. Reservations and information, 800-468-2553; e-mail email@example.com; $-$$.
Nearby Campton, a bit closer to Interstate 93, offers other options: Start with the warm and friendly Campton Inn (a country home dating to 1836), with innkeepers Robbin and Peter Adams; RR2 Box 12, Campton Village, NH 03223; 726-4449; $$ for two. A second inn, the Mountain-Fare Inn, offers nine rooms plus a carriage house annex, all in the village. Innkeepers are Susan and Nick Preston. Mad River Rd., Box 533, Campton, NH 03223; 726-4283; $$ for a room and hearty breakfast.
Woodstock & North Woodstock
Looking for a country inn with a lot of entertainment? The Woodstock Inn Bed & Breakfast has traditional country inn comforts and adds a microbrewery and live entertainment year-round. Ask about vacation and retreat packages and the November brewer�s weekends. 135 Main Street, Route 3, North Woodstock, NH 03262; 745-3951 or 800-321-3985; e-mail relax@woodstockinnNH.com; www.woodstockinnNH.com. $-$$, depending on season.
Jack O�Lantern Resort and Golf Course offers another approach to keeping guests busy. In addition to the 18-hole, par 70 golf course, there�s a Cabana Club with heated pool and Jacuzzi, sauna, and game room. Reserve ahead with the Keating family. Woodstock, NH 03293; 745-8121 or 800-227-4454; $$.
Options in North Woodstock are the Wilderness Inn, a bed and breakfast ( 745-3890 or 800-200-WILD-20; $-$$), where there�s also afternoon tea served; Autumn Breeze motel units ( 745-8549 or 800-684-3543; $-$$); and Three Rivers House, a country inn ( 745-2711 or 800-241-2711; $-$$).
Home of Loon Mountain, an impressive ski resort with year-round activities, including hiking directly into the Pemigewasset Wilderness, Lincoln has plenty of lodging. The Mill at Loon Mountain is a four-season resort village that includes the Mill House Inn, Rivergreen Resort Hotel, and Lincoln Condominiums (for all three, 745-6261 or 800-654-6183; $$, many rooms are suites), and the Lodge at Lincoln Station ( 745-3441 or 800-654-6188; $$, many suites). All have access to the vacation packages of the Mill at Loon Mountain, including restaurants, theatre, and events like the month-long Christmas celebration, or the Scottish Highland Games in October.
Nearby is the Mountain Club at Loon, a resort hotel that includes a fitness center and an unusual outdoor whirlpool ( 745-2244 or 800-229-STAY; $$$-$$$$).
A traditional family favorite in the area is the Indian Head Resort on Route 3, 1½ miles north of Exit 33 from Interstate 93. Indoor and outdoor pools and a thorough kids entertainment program add to the spas and lounge ( 800-343-8000; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.indianheadresort.com).
You can also choose among the Drummer Boy Motor Inn on Route 3 ( 745-3661 or 800-762-7275; $$); Parker�s Motel on Route 3 ( 745-8341 or 800-766-6835; $$); the Franconia Notch Motel on Route 3 bordering the Pemigewasset River ( 745-2229; $$); Red Doors Motel on Route 3 ( 745-2267; $$); Kancamagus Motor Lodge on the Kancamagus Highway ( 745-3365 or 800-346-4205; $$); The Beacon on Route 3 ( 745-8118 or 800-258-8934; $$-$$$); and Profile Motel & Cottages on Route 3 ( 800-282-0092; $$-$$$).
For a more rustic ambiance, try the Mt. Liberty Motel and Cabins on the River ( 745-3600; $-$$) or Cozy Cabins ( 745-8713; open May through October; $-$$).
Hostelling International offers 43 beds in a New England farmhouse off Route 16 in Conway. Reservations are advised ( 447-1001; $; closed in November). A continental breakfast is served. There are also rooms for families. Write to the hostel at Hostelling International-White Mountains, 36 Washington Street, Conway, NH 03818.
Highly recommended is the Darby Field Country Inn & Restaurant, a friendly getaway spot. Call for directions, 447-2181 or 800-426-4147; e-mail email@example.com; www. darbyfield.com; $$.
North Conway & Intervale
Skiing at Cranmore? Contact the resort to put together a ski-and-stay package that includes condominium lodging ( 800-SUN N SKI; North Conway, NH 03860; www. cranmore.com; $$-$$$$). In town, visit the Eastern Slope Inn Resort, a National Historic Site on 40 acres with 134 rooms, suites, and townhouses (% 356-6321 or 800-258-4708; www. journeysnorth.com/easternslopeinn/esi.html; $$-$$$). The contrast of this elegant inn with the high energy of the Eastern Mountain Sports shop tucked right behind the inn lobby says a lot about the fun of adventure in the White Mountains!
Other large hotels in the North Conway area are the Four Points Hotel by ITT Sheraton (Route 16 at Settler�s Green, 356-9300 or 800-648-4397; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; $$-$$$), and the Green Granite Inn & Conference Center (Route 16, 356-6901 or 800-468-3666; e-mail email@example.com; $$-$$$). There�s also a Best Western called the Red Jacket Mountain View on Route 16 ( 356-5411 or 800-752-2538; $$-$$$).
There�s lots of enjoyment in savoring the country inns (which range from elegant to country comforts) in the region. For instance, the 1785 Inn offers a view of Mt. Washington as well as exquisite dining and a Victorian lounge (innkeepers Becky and Charlie Mallar; 356-9025 or 800-421-1785; e-mail THE1785INN@aol.com; $$-$$$). The Buttonwood Inn is a secluded 1820s Cape-style building with its own hiking and Nordic ski trails (hosts Claudia and Peter Needham, 356-2626 or 800-258-2625; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; $$-$$$). Cranmore Mt. Lodge includes "lovable" farm animals, evening fireside piano, and theater presentations by innkeepers Dennis and Judy Helfand; there�s a dormitory-style hostel also available ( 356-2044 or 800-356-3596; e-mail email@example.com; $$-$$$). Or get a taste of Scotland with the clan names on the rooms, plus some Scottish cuisine, at the Scottish Lion Inn & Restaurant with chef/owners Michael and Janet Procopio ( 356-6381; $$-$$$).
Also in North Conway are the Victorian Harvest Inn (hosts Linda and Richard Dahlberg; 356-3548 or 800-642-0749; $$-$$$), the Eastman Inn (hosts Peter and Carol Watson; 356-6707 or 800-626-5855; $$-$$$), and the Village Inn (the Bliss Family; 356-3345, $$-$$$). To the west of town on the Saco River, on 65 acres of forest and pastures, is The Farm By the River, which has been owned by the same family for over 200 years. It has its own cross-country skiing, fly-fishing, swimming, and horseback rides. Hosts are Charlene and Rick Davis. 255 West Side Road; 356-2694 or 888-414-8353, $$-$$$.
Nereledge Farm (hosts Valerie and Dave Halpin; 356-2831; www.nettx.com/nereledge.html; $$-$$$) is also west of town on the River Road but within walking distance of the village. The bed and breakfast home dates to 1787 and offers an English-style pub room with darts, as well as views of Cathedral Ledge, almost close enough to hike over for a rock climb or ice adventure. Walk to the river for swimming, canoeing, and fishing.
Stonehurst Manor, a turn-of-the-century mansion on 33 acres of pine forest, offers two- to five-day hiking tours. Amenities here include a library lounge and four dining rooms with gourmet menus. The inn has a history of "English country manor" style. PO Box 1937, Route 16, North Conway; 356-3113 or 800-525-9100; www.StonehurstManor.com; $$-$$$.
At the north end of North Conway, where the town actually becomes Intervale (although you�ll barely notice the name change), are more inns: The Forest offers Victorian charm and has been a haven for travelers since 1890. The rooms are furnished with antiques, and there�s a stone cottage with four-poster beds and fireplace (innkeepers Lisa and Bill Guppy; 356-9772 or 800-448-3534; $$-$$$). The Wildflowers Inn is a Victorian summer cottage with wonderful views and flowers everywhere ( 356-2224; $$).
You�ll have to go out of town in the other direction for two more outstanding inns: one is the Riverbend Inn, a 14-acre colonial estate in Chocorua, south of the Conway area but close enough to get back to town for events and activities (hosts Noreen Bullock and Russ Stone, 323-7440 or 800-628-6944; $$-$$$). The other is located in Snoville, a tiny village south of Conway with a small swimming beach on a pristine lake. The Snowvillage Inn, high above the village, has views of Mt. Washington, its own cross-country ski and snowshoe trails and, in summer, award-winning gardens. All this is in addition to their gourmet food, candlelight dining, and hearty breakfasts. Hosts are Barbara and Kevin Flynn. The inn is six miles from Conway, in Snowville; 447-2818 or 800-447-4345; $$-$$$.
The Bernerhof is a small hotel with cuisine that gets featured regularly in magazines. They feature Middle European traditional delights like wiener schnitzel. In addition to award-winning chefs, the inn offers a cooking school. Send for details: The Bernerhof, PO Box 240, Route 302, Glen, NH 03838; 383-4414 or 800-548-8007; $$$-$$$$.
Attitash Bear Peak has condos at the foot of the slope and vacation packages that even include sleigh rides ( 800-223-SNOW). The resort offers a new slopeside luxury: The Grand Summit Hotel and Conference Center, with 143 rooms, health club, year-round heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, and more. It�s available year-round for White Mountains enjoyment and is especially handy for summer and fall events at the Fields of Attitash (not to mention that water slide, which isn�t just for kids!). And when you�re there in winter, ski in and out right onto the slopes and trails. Route 302, Bartlett; 374-0869 or 888-554-1900; www.attitash.com; $$-$$$$).
Skiing at Black Mountain? Ask about a ski-and-stay package that includes an inn, hotel, condominium, or bed-and-breakfast inn nearby ( 800-475-4669; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www. blackmt.com; $$$). One of the favorites is Whitneys� at the foot of the slopes; this restored 1840s farmhouse includes a well recommended restaurant ( 383-8916 or 800-677-5737; $$$).
This is such a picture-perfect village that it�s no surprise to find exquisite inns with superb dining here. The queen of the Jackson inns is The Wentworth, an elegant and award-winning resort hotel dedicated to the comfort of its guests. The architecture is lovely, the decor exquisite, the cuisine outstanding. The inn dates to 1869 as a luxurious vacationing experience and includes an 18-hole golf course as well as swimming pool, ice skating, 150 km of cross-country ski trails, and sleigh rides (Jackson Village; 383-9700 or 800-637-0013; e-mail email@example.com; $$$-$$$$).
Escape to the different elegance of Nestlenook Farm Resort, a 65-acre estate offering horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides as well as flower gardens, mountain views, and seasonal choice of either trout fishing or ice skating on Emerald Lake ( 383-0845; $$-$$$).
One of the most romantic inns in North America (according to the Los Angeles Times), the Inn at Thorn Hill offers Victorian decor and social rooms as well as luxuriously furnished lodgings in the main inn, plus a comfortable carriage house and a three lovely cottages. Don�t miss the award-winning dining, with entrées like medallions of venison in a red wine-juniper berry sauce and parsnip pancakes. Innkeepers are Jim and Ibby Cooper. Thorn Hill Road, Jackson; 383-8062 or 800-289-8990; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.innatthornhill.com; $$$-$$$$.
Other choices include Paisley & Parsley, a "retreat for self-renewal," where hosts Bea and Chuck Stone pamper guests ( 383-0859; $$-$$$); the Inn at Jackson (innkeeper Lori Tradewell; 383-4321 or 800-289-8600; $$); Christmas Farm Inn (hosts Sydna and Bill Zeliff; 383-4313 or 800-HI-ELVES; $$-$$$), which is a family resort; the Carter Notch Inn overlooking the Wildcat River Valley (innkeepers Jim and Linda Dunwell; 383-9630 or 800-794-9434; $$-$$$); and the Village House, with 100 years of traditional hospitality (innkeeper Robin Crocker; 383-6666 or 800-972-8343; $$-$$$). Looking for a lively mood of entertainment and games? Then try the Wildcat Inn & Tavern (chef/innkeepers Pam and Marty Sweeney, 383-4245 or 800-228-4245; $$-$$$).
Five minutes north of town on 300 acres is The Dana Place, a Colonial farmhouse retreat that�s a well-appointed inn with a romantic country setting ( 383-6822 or 800-537-9276; $$$).
The Appalachian Mountain Club offers the perfect base camp at Pinkham Notch: Joe Dodge Lodge, right next to the Visitor Center. There are small bunkrooms (up to five persons), and private rooms, plus fireside gathering rooms. Swap stories and information, meet new hiking and skiing partners, and enjoy breakfast and dinner. Reservations encouraged ( 466-2727; about $40 per person per night, with ups and downs for season and occupancy; lower prices for children).
Gorham & Shelburne
These are the lodging towns for visitors to Mt. Washington and the Presidentials. Shelburne, just east of Gorham on Route 2, offers the Town & Country Motor Inn ( 466-3315 or 800-325-4386; $$-$$$) plus some smaller inns: Philbrook Farm Inn with its simple country charm ( 466-3831; $$-$$$), and Wildberry Inn, a country bed and breakfast located at an Appalachian Trail crossing ( 466-5049; e-mail email@example.com. net; $$). For a pub-and-parlor mood, try the Inn at Shelburne (innkeepers Mickey and Tina Doucette; 888-466-5969; $$-$$$).
In Gorham, there are comfortable lodgings at the Libby House at the east corner of the common (innkeepers Margaret and Paul Kuliga, 466-2271 or 800-453-0023; $$). Hikers have stayed at the Colonial Comfort Inn for so long that the Janicki family, which owns the inn, calls it the Hikers Paradise (370 Main Street, 466-2732 or 800-4224; $-$$).
There are also several motels: Top of the Notch Motor Inn (265 Main Street, 466-5496 or 800-228-5496; $$-$$$), Royalty Inn (130 Main Street, 466-3312 or 800-43-RELAX; $$-$$$); and Gorham Motor Inn (junction of Routes 2 and 16; 466-3381 or 800-445-0913; $$). The Mt. Madison Motel is also at Route 2 and 16 ( 466-3622 or 800-851-1136; $$).
Classic country inn relaxation with a touch of elegance is the hallmark of the Jefferson Inn, on Route 2. The gracious Victorian farmhouse is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery; gourmet breakfasts are sumptuous. Ask for the Monticello room, with its turret and four-poster! Each room has more charm than the next... There�s great swimming across the road with a beach and floating dock. Innkeepers are Marla Mason and Don Garretson; 586-7998; $$-$$$.
For a little less elegance but a friendly welcome, try the Applebrook Bed & Breakfast, where there are 11 rooms plus dormitories and the fun of a hot tub under the stars ( 586-7713 or 800-545-6504; $$).
This region offers elegant lodgings to guests; the problem is, picking which one suits you best. Consider the Franconia Inn, a "first-class, full-service, turn-of-the-century inn." Rooms are simple yet elegant, and the gracious front and back porches face sunrise and sunset over the nearby mountains. Elegant American cuisine complements the range of outdoor invitations, from ski trails that come to the door, bridle trails, hiking trails, and a small, tidy airfield just down the road. There are 35 guest rooms; ask for one with a fireplace. From Interstate 93, take Exit 38 and go south 2½ miles on Route 116. 823-5542 or 800-473-5299; closed March 30 to May 15; $$-$$$, depending on season and dining options).
The owners of the Franconia Inn also provide more casual lodging along the Gale River, two miles east of the village "crossroad" of Routes 116 and 18: Hillwinds Lodge is meant for family vacationing, and has its own steak-and-seafood restaurant ( 800-4-RELAXX; $$).
South of Franconia village on the Easton Valley Road (Route 116 south, 5½ miles) is the Bungay Jar, a whimsically furnished bed and breakfast with lovely garden walks and an enviable seclusion. Innkeepers are Kate Kerivan and Lee Steinbeck. ( 823-7775 or 800-421-0701; $$-$$$). Count on garden design workshops, English teas, and garden receptions.
If you take Route 116 north from the village, just past the interstate is the Red Coach Inn, with ample lodging, equipped with saunas, pool, restaurant, and support for business travel ( 800-262-2493; $$-$$$). Within two miles of the village center are the Gale River Motel & Cottages ( 823-5655 or 800-255-7989; $$); the Inn at Forest Hills, a romantic and historic 18-room Tudor manor house with its own walking trails (innkeepers Joanne and Gordon Hym; 823-9550 or 800-280-9550; e-mail InnFHills@ConnRiver.net; www.innfhills.com; $$-$$$); Stonybrook Motel & Lodge ( 800-722-3552; $-$$); and Lovett�s Inn, which includes bungalows with fireplaces and antique decor, right on cross-country or hiking trails ( 823-7761 or 800-356-3802; $$-$$$). A little farther away is the Pinestead Farm Lodge, serving vacationers since 1899 (hosts Bob and Kathleen Sherburn, Jr.; 823-8121; $). And if you still can�t decide, Franconia Notch Vacations ( 800-247-5536) will find you a vacation home rental!
Route 18 west and then Route 117 take you up into Sugar Hill, once a part of Franconia but now its own village. Here lodgings follow a grand tradition of mountain resorts. For a luxurious and well-tended vacation, indulge in a stay at Sunset Hill House, where the views encompass both the Presidential Range and the Kinsman Range, and history-laden trails ramble beyond one of New Hampshire�s oldest and most scenic golf courses, disappearing into the woods. Hosts are the Coyle family. ( 823-5522 or 800-786-4455; $$$-$$$$). More modest but with a touch of the same appreciation for beauty are the Sugar Hill Inn, with its romantic guest rooms and country cottage rooms ($$$-$$$$ for two; 823-5621); the country inn called Foxglove, located at Route 117 at Lovers Lane ( 823-8840); and the comfortable, antique-filled atmosphere of the Hilltop Inn (hosts Mike and Meri Hern; 823-5695 or 800-770-5695; $$).
Along the Connecticut River Valley
Bethlehem�s most elegant lodging is at the Adair, where in summer and foliage season superb cuisine from the on-site Tim-bir Alley restaurant complements the luxurious rooms. Innkeepers are Patricia, Nancy, and Hardy Banfield ( 444-2600 or 888-444-2600; $$$). Among the other choices are the Grande Victorian Cottage, a bed and breakfast mansion in the village ( 869-5755 and 401-333-6496; $$); the Wayside Inn on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River, with a choice of either country inn or motel lodging ( 800-448-9557; $-$$$); or the 16 cottages of Hearthside Village (hosts Steve and Rhonda Huggins; 444-1000; $-$$).
In neighboring Whitefield, after you�ve enjoyed a summer theatre performance at the Weathervane, you can snuggle into the North Country charm and elegance of either the Inn at Whitefield (next to the theater; 837-3049; $$-$$$) or the Spalding Inn just down the road, with cottages, golf course and putting green, tennis courts, and lawn bowling green ( 837-2572 or 800-368-VIEW; $$-$$$).
To the west of Bethlehem (or south of Whitefield) is Littleton, where the traditional lodging since 1843 has been Thayer�s Inn, at the center of town on Main Street ( 444-6469; $-$$). More recent lodgings include the Eastgate Motor Inn & Restaurant ( 444-3971; $-$$) and the Littleton Motel ( 444-5780; $-$$), as well as the Continental 93 Travellers Inn at Exit 42 of Interstate 93 ( 444-5366 or 800-544-9366; $$).
Cozier options are the Maple Leaf Motel on West Main Street ( 444-5105; $-$$) and the Beal House Inn at the junction of Routes 18 and 10 (innkeepers Ted and Barbara Snell; 444-2661; e-mail NKRD98A@Prodigy.com; $$).
The Rabbit Hill Inn is actually across the town and state line from Littleton, in Lower Waterford, Vermont, but is worth a mention for its meticulous elegance and outstanding cuisine. From afternoon scones to profusely blooming gardens to candlelight dining, this inn adds luxurious touches to every aspect of lodging. Reserve well ahead ( 748-5168 or 800-76-BUNNY; $$$$).
Waterville Valley & Campton
The White Mountain National Forest offers its Campton Campground, two miles east of Exit 28 of Interstate 93, on Mad River Road (Route 49). Open all year, with summer nature programs; 58 sites, each with picnic table, fire ring, tent pad, and parking. Reservations are encouraged in summer and fall ( 800-280-2267).
A second national forest site is the Waterville Campground, reached by taking Exit 28 from Interstate 93, then heading east on Route 49 for 10 miles to Tripoli Road. There are 27 wooded sites, each with picnic table, fire ring, tent pad, and parking (reservations, 800-280-2267; open all year). Or check out the Pemi River Campground (RFD1, Box 926, Campton, NH 03223; 726-7015; summer and fall), where kayak and tube rentals come with the river and swimming hole.
Woodstock & North Woodstock
Camp out with a view at the local KOA sites at Broken Branch, Box 6B, Woodstock, NH 03293; 745-8008 or 800-562-9736; $; open May 1 to October 15; or at Lost River Valley Campground on Route 112 in North Woodstock, which has a swimming beach, kayak and paddleboat rentals, and many recreation choices ( 745-8321 or 800-370-5678). The national forest offers back-to-basics with a wooded environment at Wildwood Campground off Route 112, about nine miles from North Woodstock and four miles before you reach Lost River Reservation. It has 26 sites with gravel pads, fire rings, and picnic tables. Closed in winter. No reservations; for information, 869-2626.
The national forest offers six campgrounds along the Kancamagus Highway that are great base locations for hikes and cross-country skiing. (Recall that there�s no camping at all in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, but the rest of the nearby forest is open for primitive camping, provided you practice "no-trace" use.) Fees run $12 to $14 per night; a few sites can be reserved at the Covered Bridge Campground ( 800-280-CAMP), but all others are on a first-come, first-served basis. Hancock (56 sites, 35 trailer spaces) and Big Rock (28 campsites with fireplaces, trailer spaces) campgrounds are only five and seven miles east of Lincoln and are open year-round, with a swimming hole called Upper Lady�s Bath just five minutes away. Passaconaway (33 sites, most suitable for RV�s) is 15 miles west of Conway, and Jigger Johnson (75 sites, many suitable for RV�s) is 12½ miles west of Conway; both have campground hosts at the sites and are closed in winter.
Closest to Conway are Blackberry (16 tent sites plus 20 suitable for RV�s; historical site at campground) and Covered Bridge (49 tent and RV sites). Both have campground hosts. Blackberry is open all year (although you walk in during winter and spring), but Covered Bridge closes in winter. There are signs along the Kancamagus pointing out the sites. Good hiking and chances to watch wildlife are found around all six campgrounds. For more information, call the Saco Ranger District Office (the Conway end of the Kancamagus Highway) at 447-5448, or visit the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center, six miles west of Lincoln (no phone). There�s also information at the White Mountain Attractions building just off Interstate 93 in Lincoln.
Bear Notch Road heads north from the Kancamagus to Bartlett. Near the Kancamagus end of this lovely route is Wilderness Cabins (Box 1289, Conway, NH 03818; 356-8899; $$; open year-round), which fits in well with the hiking mood.
Toward the north end of the notch, five miles south of Gorham, is Dolly Copp Campground, a national forest facility open mid-May through mid-October with 177 sites and limited reservations ( 800-280-CAMP). This campground is a great base for hiking the Northern Presidentials as well as the Randolph trails.
Gorham & Shelburne
For camping, pick from the White Birches Camping Park two miles east of Gorham on Route 2 (family camping ranging from full hookups to wilderness; 466-3441) or Moose Brook State Park (RFD1, 30 Jimtown Road, Gorham, NH 03570; 466-3860), just around the corner from the village off Route 302 (good signs make it easy to find). Open late May through mid-October, weather permitting; two group camping areas, 40 tent sites, RVs welcome where they fit in; great swimming; reservations urged.
The Israel River Campground is reached from Route 115A, taking the marked turn onto "Old Route 115B." There are tables and fireplaces, water and electric at all sites, and a swimming pool; it�s a family place, open May 1 to mid-October ( 586-7977).
Twin Mountain & Bretton Woods
This area also includes a trio of national forest campgrounds at Zealand (Sugarloaf I, 29 sites; Sugarloaf II, 32 sites; Zealand, 11 sites; 800-280-CAMP). Beech Hill Campground is on Route 302, two miles west of the junction with Route 3, and has 87 sites ( 846-5521). Cherry Mountain KOA is on Route 115 ( 846-5559 or 800-743-5819). Both are family campgrounds with swimming pools.
In this area, try the Franstead Family Campground ( 823-5675), a casual place.
Along the Connecticut River Valley
A mile north of the center of Bethlehem is Apple Hill Campground ( 869-2238 or 800-284-2238; e-mail Apple.Hill@rr1. ConnRiver.net). Mountain Lake Campground ( 788-4500) is between Lancaster and Whitefield; Crazy Horse Campground ( 800-639-4107) is on the shore of Moore Lake outside Littleton; and there�s Littleton KOA on the Ammonoosuc River ( 838-5525 or 800-779-5525).
Head farther south to East Haverhill on Route 25 to find the Oliverian Valley Wildlife Preserve and Campground ( 989-3351), a 2,000-acre oasis with on-site mountain biking, hiking, and educational opportunities, including tours.
Where To Eat
Woodstock & Lincoln
There are many restaurants here, including the Café Lafayette, the dining car on the Hobo Railroad (Lincoln, 745-2135). The most elegant cuisine is surely found at the Woodstock Inn on Main Street in Woodstock ( 745-3951). The Common Man is a local favorite (at the Kancamagus Highway end of the town of Lincoln; 745-3463), with its very simple and fresh food prepared graciously. Only in summer, try Govoni�s Italian Restaurant on the road to Lost River, Route 112 ( 745-8042). For more casual eating, the Chinese restaurant Chieng Gardens ( 745-8612) in Lincoln is good, and there�s the adventure of a cookout on the summit of Loon Mountain in the summer (check schedules; the price includes the ride to the summit; 745-8111). Another summer treat is homemade ice cream at Bishop�s in Lincoln.
Conway, North Conway, Intervale
You can nibble or dine from one end of this three-town segment to the other. So here are just a few highlights:
Just south of Conway village on Route 16 is the Darby Field Inn ( 447-2181), with a spectacular mountain view and creative country cuisine. Conway offers a casual taste of Maine seafood at Jonathon�s ( 447-3838) on Route 16 across from the Reebok outlet. Horsefeathers ( 356-2687) in the center of North Conway village is the traditional place to relax, kick back, and enjoy pasta, sandwiches, and burgers.
Shalimar of India ( 356-0123 or 888-356-0123) is across from the train station in North Conway and offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine, including curries and vindaloos, with a specialty in Indian breads. On Seavey Street is Bellini�s ( 356-7000), an energetic Italian restaurant with both southern and northern Italian cuisine and rich desserts.
Indulge yourself with dinner at Stonehurst Manor ( 356-3113), a mile north of North Conway village. There are great stone-oven pizzas, plus house specialties like grilled chicken with wood-roasted chicken sausage, or grilled vegetables and Asiago polenta.
Specialties of the Scottish Lion Inn & Restaurant ( 356-6381) just north of North Conway village include finnan haddie and Scottish Highland game pie, as well as traditional steak and seafood.
Be "in the know" for where local residents go when they slip out of town: to the Oxford House Inn, on Route 302 in Fryeburg ( 800-261-7206), eight miles to the east, to sample venison Hall, Maine lobster, scallops à l�orange, and champagne-poached salmon.
Familiar with the fun at the Road Kill Café? This isn�t the only one in New England, but it�s an adventure; we tell you no more but invite you to see for yourself on Route 302 ( 374-6116).
Attitash Bear Peak�s Grand Summit Hotel now offers the Alpine Garden Restaurant ( 374-1900), with chef Brian Coffey�s memorable cuisine (does grilled salmon with roasted red and yellow pepper purée give you a hint?).
Take the family for a fun breakfast at Glen Junction (junction of Routes 302 and 16; 383-9660) and check out the train at the same time.
Relax at the Red Fox Pub & Restaurant (Route 16A, 383-6659) with steak and seafood or hearty sandwiches. On Sundays there�s a jazz breakfast buffet.
Or savor romantic candlelight dining at the Inn at Thorn Hill, where brook trout and Atlantic salmon are treated with a delicate hand and perfect seasonings; the tournedos of beef are to die for ( 383-4242, reservations recommended).
Find lunch at As You Like It ( 383-6425) in the center of the village, where handcrafted sandwiches and picnic lunches join cakes, cookies, and pastries.
And don�t miss dinner at Whitneys� Inn ( 383-8916), at the foot of Black Mountain�s slopes, where there�s a tough choice between orchard stuffed chicken with cranberry, apple and raisin filling, or the inn�s fettuccine laden with shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and cream.
The long-time favorite in town remains Wildcat Inn and Tavern ( 383-4245), for flavorful seafood country gourmet dining.
La Bottega Saladino at 152 Main Street ( 466-2520) offers fresh and delicious Italian specialties, and also has its own bakery. Yokohama Restaurant is a long-time favorite at 288 Main Street, with good Japanese food for hearty appetites ( 466-2501). For breakfast, a light lunch, or just a sweet snack, there�s the Loaf Around Bakery on Exchange Street, just around the corner from Moriah Sports.
"Twin" is a place to recoup energy after hiking, with hearty barbecued ribs and chicken, ice cream, and pizza, at the Big Red Store/Holy Cow Restaurant on Route 302 just east of the junction of 302 and 3. Local residents acknowledge that dinner at Paquette�s Motor Inn ( 846-5562) on Route 3, south of the junction, is reliably good. Also try Munroe�s Family Restaurant next door on Route 3 ( 846-5547).
What could be more fun than riding the quad lift to the mountain top and dining with the valley and the White Mountains in front of you? That�s the pleasure of Top o� Quad ( 278-5000) at Bretton Woods Resort on Route 302. There are lunches and sunset dinners through the summer; be sure to call ahead to check on which days and dates the meals are offered.
For an exquisite meal, call the Mount Washington Hotel & Resort and find out whether they have seating for non-staying guests that evening ( 278-1000); you�ll enjoy the grand hotel ambiance as much as the fine cuisine.
Franconia & Sugar Hill
Count on the fine inns here to serve elegant dinners with innovative cuisine. The Franconia Inn ( 823-5542) offers an American and continental à la carte menu that changes often. Lovett�s Inn ( 823-7761) provides five-course dinners likely to include novel and delicious combinations of herbs and fruits with the entrées. Do make reservations at both.
In Sugar Hill the seasonally changing menu at Sunset Hill House ( 823-5522) may include such distinctive appetizers as steamed mussels with Portuguese sausage, cherry peppers, and a cream sherry sauce; or grilled cod cakes served over sautéed calamari with a jalapeño and curry sauce. Wait until you see the entrées.
Just for fun, have breakfast at Polly�s Pancake Parlor ( 823-5575) on the road between Sugar Hill and Laconia (Route 117). Pancakes are cooked to order; the walnut ones are especially good.
Along the Connecticut River Valley
Dining out at the Inn at Whitefield ( 837-2760) offers an entire evening of satisfaction: first a lovely meal, and then an hour or two in the adjacent lounge, listening on many Friday evenings to live music, often involving your hosts as jazz instrumentalists.
At the western edge of Bethlehem, Tim-bir Alley (at Adair, a fine inn) offers exquisite gourmet dining seasonally; call ahead to be sure it�s open ( 444-6142). For less formal but still creative meals, Lloyd Hills at 311 Main Street is a good choice. At the other end of town, to the east, is Rosa�s Flamingo ( 869-3111), where Rosa�s flamingo wings (really chicken), pasta, and other hearty but casual suppers add to a bouncy atmosphere that includes live music on many weekends.
Littleton offers a range of options starting with the tasty delicatessen offerings at Porfido�s in the center of town. The Littleton Diner (145 Main Street, 444-3994) is a time-tested traditional spot for hearty breakfasts, quick lunches, or pie and coffee; so is the Coffee Pot (30 Main Street, 444-5722). Indulge in the ice cream at Bishop�s Homemade on Cottage Street (the street that meets Main Street at the traffic light); the Grand Depot Café ( 444-5303) is also on Cottage Street and offers Continental cuisine with style.
Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, Bethlehem, NH 03574; 869-2151.
Conway Village Chamber of Commerce, Conway, NH 03818; 447-2639.
Franconia/Easton/Sugar Hill Chamber of Commerce, Franconia, NH 03580; 823-5661 or 800-237-9007.
Lincoln-Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 358, Kancamagus Scenic Byway, Lincoln, NH 03251; 745-6621 or 800-227-4191.
Littleton Chamber of Commerce, Littleton, NH 03561; 444-6561.
Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 65, Plymouth, NH 03264; 536-1001 or 800-386-3678.
Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 2300, North Conway, NH 03860; 356-5701 or 356-3171.
Twin Mountain Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 194, Twin Mountain, NH 03595; 846-5520 or 800-245-TWIN for lodging referrals.
Waterville Valley Region Chamber of Commerce, Campton, NH 03223; 726-3804.