New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest and Mount Washington Valley is an outdoor mecca. There are at least seven downhill ski mountains in the area, numerous golf courses, and rivers for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The state also has its fair share of hiking trails. According to the US Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest alone contains more than 1,200 miles of trails within a nearly 800,000 acre region.
Of course athletic endeavors aren’t for everyone. So, for those who would prefer a lighter version of the great outdoors during their visit to the White Mountains, here are some ideas to entice the whole family.
White Mountain National Forest Waterfall
The West Side Road in Bartlett, NH is home to Diana’s Baths, a 200 foot stretch of cascades on Lucy Brook and reachable by a short ½ mile walk along a well-maintained path. On a hot summer day, it is not surprising to see people seated on the rocks (many with picnic lunches), and wading in the brook.
Other easily accessible waterfalls include Lower Falls, located on the Kancamagus Highway, approximately 7 miles west of Conway, and Rocky Gorge, also on the “Kanc,” (as it is fondly called), about a mile further up the road.
Visitors also enjoy Jackson Falls on the Wildcat Brook in Jackson, NH. Jackson is also home to a famous covered bridge (the so-called “Honeymoon Bridge”) as well as farmer’s market, golf, and is a beautiful mountain village. The falls themselves are a popular destination where the visitor can sit right in the water on a hot summer day, or simply admire from the banks at any time of the year.
A list of other waterfalls in the White Mountain region, along with their degree of ease or difficulty in reaching them, can be seen at the US Forest Service White Mountain National Forest website.
Mount Washington Valley Farmers Market
During the summer and autumn, farmers markets abound throughout New Hampshire. While a list of the state’s farmers market can be found here on New Hampshire’s agriculture web page, the list is extensive.
For those unfamiliar with New Hampshire’s towns, trying to determine which markets are in the White Mountains may seem difficult. The towns with farmers markets closest to this area include Bethlehem, Campton, Jackson, Madison, Ossippee, and Tamworth.
In addition, individually owned farm stands are also plentiful in the region. In this link for New Hampshire farm stands, the stands are listed by county. The county most associated with the White Mountain area is Carroll County.
Farm stands are wonderful places to sample locally grown produce. As an added attraction, during the autumn, Sherman Farms in Conway, NH even offers a popular “Corn Maize!”
Attend a Country Fair in the Mount Washington Valley
It stands to reason that a state rich in agriculture would also be home to numerous country fairs. New Hampshire is no exception. Although most fairs take place during the fall, there are a few that one can visit during the summer. Here are some fairs that take place in and around the Mount Washington Valley and White Mountains region:
Fryeburg Fair (Fryeurg Maine, which although not in New Hampshire is just over the border from Conway, NH, and is considered part of the Mount Washington Valley.) This is one of the most popular and well-known New England fairs, which lasts for a full week, and is held in early October.
Lancaster Fair, Lancaster, NH. Lancaster is just northwest of the White Mountains. This fair typically runs for a long weekend around Labor Day.
Sandwich Fair, Center Sandwich, NH. This fair is always held over the Columbus Day weekend, which should delight fair goers as well as “leaf peepers.”
View White Mountain National Forest Wildlife
As J. Marie Cunningham-Slagell states in her article Viewing New Hampshire Wildlife, “New Hampshire is home to more than 450 species of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles as well as numerous insects and aquatic life.” Her article offers information on which species can be observed during different times of the year.
There are numerous outfitters available to guide visitors on wildlife viewing tours. For example, Dan’s Scenic Tours offers moose viewing tours, and the northern White Mountain town of Gorham, NH boasts a “94% Success Rate” for seeing moose on their tours. Moose tours are typically conducted in the evenings.
Take a Pony or Horseback Ride (in Summer) or Sleigh Ride and Ice Skate (in Winter)
Nestlenook Farm in Jackson, NH is a resort known for its lovely ice skating park and sleigh rides during the winter. During the summer, visitors enjoy horseback rides at one of the area stables, such as Farm by the River in North Conway, as well as at the Black Mountain Stables in Jackson.
About Foliage Season in New Hampshire’s White Mountains
Most of the ideas discussed in this article can be enjoyed in conjunction with one of New Hampshire’s most popular activities known as “Leaf Peeping.” The autumn foliage season is truly a beautiful time of year to visit the state. New Hampshire is one of the premiere states for leaf peeping and scenic drives during the autumn season and it recommends several routes to take that wind in and around the White Mountain region and Mount Washington Valley.
These suggestions are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enjoying the New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the Mount Washington Valley. Each time visitors participate in one or more of these activities, they will be introduced to even more ways to get out and enjoy that fresh mountain air!