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How to Spend a Day at the White Mountain National Forest

Spanning 800,000 acres across New Hampshire and Maine, White Mountain National Forest is one of the most heavily used National Forests in the country. It’s a haven for outdoor recreation and is crossed by the White Mountain Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. The forest is also known for its bright fall foliage and awesome winter skiing. Whether you’re a New England local or just passing through, a trip to the White Mountains should be on your bucket list! Here are some of our favorite things to do there.

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Explore White Mountain National Forest

Hiking & Mountain Biking

With over 1,200 miles of non-motorized trails, White Mountain National Forest offers endless opportunities for adventure. You’ll find everything from easy routes to challenging climbs. Before heading out, pack a few essentials like a map, first aid kit, warm clothing, and rain gear. The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared!

  • If you're traveling near Bethlehem, immerse yourself in the area's natural beauty and bask in panoramic views by hiking the 1.5-mile Mount Agassiz trail.
  • Hike or bike one of the various trails in Franconia State Park. The Franconia Notch Recreation Path is a 9-mile paved trail that's also great for sightseeing—with stops at historic sites and viewing areas. 

Winter Sports

If you’re planning a trip to New Hampshire this winter, you’re in luck! Winter recreation is exceptional in the White Mountains. Snowshoeing, sledding, and nordic and alpine skiing are just a few ways to enjoy the snow. 

  • Franconia State Park is great for year-round recreation, including snowshoeing. Follow the 3-mile Lonesome Lake Trail for scenic views of snow-capped mountains and a rewarding sight of a wintry high alpine lake.
  • Hit the slopes at the Cannon Mountain Ski Area in Franconia, and take a lift to the highest ski area summit in the state.
  • Loon Mountain is another top destination for East Coast skiing, featuring a variety of terrain for all skill levels.

Scenic Drives

The White Mountain region is a fantastic place for a road trip. The Kancamagus Scenic Byway offers one of the most beautiful routes (especially during the fall foliage season) and is a highlight for most visitors to the Forest. The 34-mile byway also connects with the White Mountain Trail to make a loop.

Historic Sites

Many traces of the past that can be found across White Mountain National Forest. The area’s cellar holes and stone walls are evidence of the farm families who lived and worked here more than a hundred years ago. The Forest manages several historic buildings that are open to the public, including the Russell-Colbath House in Albany and the Smith House in Sandwich. You can even visit the Brickett Place in Stow, Maine. This 19th-century farmhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open seasonally.

The Best Lodging Near White Mountain National Forest

The Notchland Inn

Are you looking to relax, rejuvenate, and get away from it all? Head to The Notchland Inn! Completed in 1862, this 100-acre estate is located within White Mountain National Forest. Settle into one of the spacious guest rooms or suites, or book your stay in a pet-friendly cottage. Each features a fabulous wood-burning fireplace.

The Notchland Inn

Sugar Hill Inn

The good life awaits at Sugar Hill Inn! This romantic property caters to couples and features some of the best dining in the White Mountains. In-room amenities include espresso makers, gas fireplaces, mini refrigerators, whirlpool tubs, and more.

Sugar Hill Inn

Adair Country Inn and Restaurant

Situated on 200 sprawling acres in Bethlehem, NH, The Adair Country Inn boasts spectacular views and a long list of amenities. After a fun day outdoors, curl up with a good book in the library or enjoy a meal at the inn’s onsite restaurant.

Adair Country Inn

Best Places to Stay in Bethlehem

Adair Inn Summer View
Adair Inn Summer Pond View
gardens
Adairroad
Adair billiard
table for 2 at restaurant
Adair Inn Summer Patio

Adair Country Inn & Restaurant

Bethlehem, NH

Best Places to Stay in Hart's Location

aerial summer
Notchland Inn Winter
notchalnd interior
Notchland Inn Room with Fireplace
Notchland Inn Hammock
notchland sitting room
notchland bedroom
notchland room open
two dogs
snowy day
aerial snow
aerial fall
notchland key
chess and wood

The Notchland Inn

Hart's Location, NH

Best Places to Stay in Sugar Hill

Sugar Hill Exterior
SugarHillInnRoom
SugarHillInnExterior
Sugar Hill Inn Dream Porch Swing
SugarHillInnGardenCottage
Sugar Hill Pool

Sugar Hill Inn

Sugar Hill, NH

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