Local Attractions: White Mountains

Posted: January 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: fun, Local Attractions, nature, tourism | No Comments »

full sweep

Crawford Notch, New Hampshire misty lake chocorua

alpine zone trail signpost mossyrocks

Jackson, NH Barn Diana's Baths

Franconia Ridge / Crawford Depot / Lake Chocorua / Franconia Ridge / Imp Trail / Rattle River Trail / Jackson barn / Diana’s Baths

View White Mountains for visitors in a larger map

Limington is almost in the foothills of the beautiful White Mountains! North Conway, New Hampshire is only 40 minutes from our house, and while North Conway itself is basically just a big traffic jam with hundreds of strip malls and discount shopping outlets, it’s also the “gateway” to mountain fun and outdoor adventures in and around the White Mountain National Forest and Appalachian Trail. In early September the air should be crisp, the sunshine warm and clear and the earliest leaves will be starting to change color – really a perfect time for hiking and exploring in the White Mountains. Clear days will give glorious views of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast (6,288 feet), famous for some of the earth’s highest recorded wind speeds at its summit, which is accessible by the Mount Washington Auto Road as well as by (a tough) hiking trail. The Kancamagus Highway is a really famous pleasure-driving destination for fall visitors to see the bright fall leaves covering the mountainsides in autumn colors. It takes about an hour to drive the winding, twisty Kancamagus from one end in Conway, NH to the other end in Lincoln, NH, cutting through the remote White Mountain National Forest. It follows along the rocky Swift River bed up into the mountains and takes you over high passes with sweeping views of the white mountains all around and lots of pull-offs to admire the scenic vistas. In the fall the Kancamagus gets kind of busy with lots of sight-seers and leaf-peepers, but it shouldn’t be too filled with traffic, even in fall foliage season.

There are lots of hiking trails off the Kancamagus, and all over the White Mountains. The Mount Willard trail (aka “Bubblegum Hill”) is a big favorite in our family as it offers just about the most spectacular view for the most accessible climb. It’s one or two hours of moderate, pleasant hiking through forest, passing a nice waterfall, at some stretches the trail is unrelentingly uphill, but never too steep or challenging, and the summit has a spectacular panoramic view across Crawford Notch. A favorite summer spot is Diana’s Baths, a chain of natural pools and waterfalls tumbling over soft, rounded granite ledges smoothed and sculpted by the river, with lovely mountain views, accessible by a very easy and short trail. There are thousands of other trails to explore too – the Appalachian Trail passes through this area, and Crawford Path is the oldest continuously maintained hiking trail in the country! If you’re interested in spending some time in the area, it’s well worth buying a trail guide – this is the one we have, which we like; here’s another, more recently published AMC guide. There are also plenty of opportunities for overnight trekking, and the Appalachian Mountain Club operates eight mountain huts where you can hike in and then spend the night in a comfy cabin, several of the huts serve hot meals too, and it’s possible to string together several days of hiking with stays in huts each night. Best to try and reserve spaces as soon as possible, as I think these fill up far in advance.

Any of you friends & family who are interested in planning some adventures around this area, drop me a line and I can definitely give you more specific details and advice and thoughts!

Outdoors Resources:
Forest Service list of a few local hiking trails
Hike New Hampshire forum
Appalachian Mountain Club huts
there’s so many more hiking trails that aren’t listed online – I highly recommend getting a recent AMC trail guide or any kind of White Mountains trail guide that will give a more comprehensive listing!
Saco Bound canoe and kayak rentals, tours & adventures

Towns, Accommodations, Food:
There are SO MANY places to stay and eat in this area, I can’t even begin to do an exhaustive list of everywhere; I just picked out a bunch of the prettiest-looking historic inns and a few of our favorite restaurants. If you’re on a tighter budget just do a little research as there are lots of cheaper options, more modern options, motels, campgrounds, rental cabins and short-term house rentals, etc. that I haven’t listed here!

Jackson, NH Jackson Falls Favorite Tree Jackson Falls Wentworth Inn Covered Bridge Pink Victorian House


Jackson, NH is a really adorable little town, quiet and mellow but very well-appointed for tourism. We love wading and swimming at Jackson Falls, which has  a thousand natural pools for wading and splashing and ledges for sunning and a spectacular view across the mountains.
Jackson chamber of commerce website
Thompson House Eatery is a perennial favorite (slightly pricey), delicious and beautiful place for a nice meal, right in the center of Jackson.
Inn at Ellis River
Village House B&B
Inn at Thorn Hill
Carter Notch Inn
Wentworth Inn
Eagle Mountain House

White Mountain Cider Co Story Land saco river

Glen and Bartlett

Glen, NH is probably best-known for its kitschy kiddie-amusement-park, Storyland, but Glen and neighboring Bartlett also offer lots of quiet, winding roads, close access to the White Mountain National Forest and Mount Washington, lovely mountain views and more cute inns.
White Mountain Cider Co – Fancy restaurant with a nice cocktail bar. The regular menu is delicious and expensive; the bar menu is equally delicious and reasonably priced. Make reservations if you want a table – no reservations for the bar but you may have to wait during the high season.
the Red Parka PubTrails End Ice Cream
Bartlett Inn
The Covered Bridge House Bed & Breakfast
Bernerhof Inn

glen oaks inn Mount Washington
train tracks Limmer & Sons bootmaker, Intervale NH Limmer & Sons bootmaker, Intervale NH


Intervale, NH on the outskirts of North Conway, is mainly a town of inns, hotels and tourist lodgings. It’s less congested than North Conway and convenient to both hiking trails and downtown shops/restaurants/amenities. Lady Bird Johnson’s Scenic Overlook in Intervale gives a great view across the valley’s farms and forests to the great peaks of the Presidential range, with Mount Washington in the center. Limmer & Sons Bootmaker is a pretty neat place to stop and see old-fashioned craftsmen building handmade hiking boots.
Glen Oaks Inn
Riverside Inn
New England Inn

traffic hy2174.JPG Our 1874 Victorian station in North Conway Village North To The Notch North Conway, NH Summer 2008

North Conway

North Conway, NH is kind of a mess of discount shopping and factory outlets and endless traffic jams, although there is a new bypass road that makes it possible to get in and out of North Conway without sitting in traffic for an entire day; it’s not well-marked so check a map. There is a sweet little historic village at the center of town, which has lots of fun stuff within a small walking distance – an old movie theater, town park, bookstores, coffee shops, lots of restaurants, ice cream shops, Dondero’s fascinating rock and fossil shop, and the beautifully restored Victorian-era train station, where you can catch the North Conway Scenic Railway for a ride around the mountains. And all those shops in North Conway can be handy when you need to buy outdoor gear, groceries, almost anything.
There’s an ample range of restaurants in North Conway, mostly a little over-priced since it’s a tourist town, but there’s some decent Thai food and Indian food; a pretty authentic British pub, Two Black Dogs; for sandwiches,Big Dave’s Bagels does big hearty sandwiches to go. Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brew Pub is a real favorite – great microbrews, barbecue, big menu full of tasty options including vegetarian fare. For hiking boots and all manner of outdoor equipment: International Mountain Experts, Ragged Mountain, EMS, LL Bean, Joe Jones

Chamber of Commerce website
The 1875 Inn
Cranmore Mountain Lodge
Wildflowers Inn
Merrill Farm Resort
Nereledge Inn
Eastman Inn
Eastern Slope Inn
Old Red Inn

White Mountains Autumn Color NH09B00058

Kancamagus Highway, Conway

Conway, NH is a little quieter than North Conway, and a little closer to our house in Limington. It’s also the starting point for the Kancamagus drive.
Foothills Farm B&B
Darby Field Inn

Fryeburg Fryeburg View


Fryeburg, ME is just across the state line, much quieter than North Conway, still a good home base for visiting the White Mountains, and a little closer to Portland and points in Maine. Nice farm stand at Weston’s Farm, great swimming spot on the Saco River.
Admiral Peary House
Oxford House Inn
Peace With-Inn

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