Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 08:54 pm
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a beautiful and scenic destination that provides breathtaking views no matter what time of year you visit. This mountain range is the perfect escape for tourists looking for a variety of outdoor activities amidst gorgeous landscapes. In this blog post, we will explore the top activities to check out in the White Mountains. Whether it’s hiking, skiing, or scenic drives, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes and preferences.
Top Attractions in the White Mountains
Hikes in the White Mountains
Known for having 48 summits over 4,000′ above sea level (most in the White Mountains), New Hampshire offers some of the best hikes in the Northeast. Some of the very best of these hikes for all fitness levels can be found in Franconia Notch State Park. Here are just a few:
Flume Gorge – Easy Walk
The Flume Gorge is a natural chasm extending for about 800 feet, with walls rising up to 90 feet tall. This location has been a popular tourist attraction since the late 1800s and offers some of the most stunning views of nature in New England. For that reason, you’ll need advance tickets to take this easy, scenic walk that passes by several cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear pools.
The Basin Accessible Trail – Easy Walk
The Basin Trail is a flat loop of about 0.6 miles, which means that it is a straightforward and easy walk for everyone. The trail is mainly compacted gravel, and the boardwalks allow universal accessibility all year round, including for individuals with strollers, wheelchairs, or limited mobility. the impressive Basin, a natural granite cauldron that has been carved out by the Pemigewasset River. The Basin is surrounded by rocks, and the sound of the water is soothing and calming.
Basin Cascade Trail and Cascade Brook – Easy to Moderate Hike
The Basin Cascade Trail is a relatively easy trail that follows a series of cascading waterfalls that are simply gorgeous. The trail is well-marked, and you won’t have any trouble finding your way. If you make it a loop by taking the Cascade Brook back to the starting point, the total distance is 2.9 miles with 656 feet of elevation gain.
For a moderate option, continue on to Lonesome Lake via the Cascade Brook Trail. Circle the lake then stay on Lonesome Lake Trail until you reach the Pemi Trail which you’ll use to complete the loop. The flat Pemi Trail is the perfect way to end the hike as it follows the Pemigewasset River offering numerous opportunities to cool off. The total loop is 5.8 miles with 1,210 feet of elevation gain.
Artist Bluff Trail – Moderate Hike
The Artist Bluff Trail is a short but steep hike that offers spectacular views of Franconia Notch and the surrounding mountains. With an elevation gain of 620 feet, this loop trail is only 1.5 miles long. The trail is rocky and uneven in some areas and has an optional scramble at the top so be sure to wear sturdy shoes.
The view from the top is simply breathtaking, and it’s easy to see why this trail is so popular. You can see Cannon Mountain, Echo Lake, and beyond. If you time it right, the colorful fall foliage adds another dimension to the view, making it all the more magical.
North Kinsman – Difficult Hike
For expert hikers seeking a challenge, summit North Kinsman where you can enjoy stunning views of the Franconia Ridge. The trail is steep and rocky, and some sections require scrambling. If you’re up for the challenge, this hike is truly unforgettable. You can conquer it via a 7.3 mile out and back hike on the Lonesome Lake and Fishin’ Jimmy trails or make it a longer loop adding 2 1/2 miles by coming down the Kinsman Ridge trail.
Scenic Drives in the White Mountains
Touring the White Mountains via car is a must-do activity. These scenic drives in the area are some of the most beautiful in the country at any time of the year.
Kancamangus Scenic Byway – This 34-mile stretch of road is located in New Hampshire and is known for the awe-inspiring views of the White Mountains, the pristine river, and the verdant forests. You can start your tour at the western end, Lincoln, and head east through the White Mountains National Forest. Along the way, you will be mesmerized by the breathtaking views of the Swift River, Mount Osceola, and might even catch a moose sighting. Take your time and stop at the numerous overlooks, picnic areas, and rest stops to savor the beauty of nature. One of the most popular stops is the Kancamagus Pass, which offers a panoramic view of the valley. There are also several easy, but fabulous hikes including Sabbaday Falls, Rocky Gorge, and Lower Falls.
Mount Washington Auto Road – No visit to the White Mountains would be complete without a visit to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. The Mount Washington Auto Road dates back to the 1800s, making it one of America’s oldest and most legendary mountain roads. It was built in 1861 and was created to provide tourists with a way to reach the summit of the majestic Mount Washington without having to hike up it. The road has been steadily maintained and improved over the years and currently features a variety of facilities and services to make visitors feel safe and comfortable. Today visitors can choose from driving up this 7.6-mile scenic road to the summit or ascending up the western side of the slope on the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
Winter Sports in the White Mountains
The White Mountains also offer the best skiing in the Northeast. There are multiple ski resorts in the region, including Loon Mountain, Bretton Woods, and Cannon Mountain. Each resort offers unique terrain with varying degrees of difficulty, making it perfect for skiers of all levels. Aside from skiing, many resorts also offer other winter activities like snowshoeing, snowboarding, and tubing.
Other Attractions in the White Mountains
The White Mountains are beautiful all year round, and there are plenty of seasonal activities to enjoy. In the winter, you can go skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. The rest of the year you can ride the ski gondolas up the slopes and walk around at the top. We especially enjoyed Loon Mountain Resort which has pet-friendly gondolas, mountain biking, and hiking trails.
In the summer, there are numerous opportunities to go swimming, kayaking, or tubing in one of the many rivers and streams. One of our favorite swimming holes is Diana Baths in North Conway.
Where to Stay in the White Mountains
The White Mountains offer a variety of accommodations to suit all budgets. For a unique experience, consider staying in a cabin or renting an RV.
Franconia Notch State Park – This gorgeous state park offers several camping options to suit different needs. The Lafayette Place Campground is the most popular option, and it has over 95 sites. Most of these sites offer a picnic table and fire pit. The park also offers backcountry camping at the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) backcountry campsites. Alternatively, you can choose to camp at Cannon Mountain RV Park, which offers full hookups and is located adjacent to the state park.
Lincoln / Woodstock KOA – This campground is situated in a beautiful, forested area, giving campers a chance to enjoy nature at its finest. The campground offers ample space to set up your RV, pitch your tent, or even rent a cabin or covered wagon for a comfortable stay.
Plan Your Trip Today
The White Mountains of New Hampshire offer some of the most scenic and diverse landscapes in the country. Start packing your bags and get ready to explore the beauty of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
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