The White Mountains are a go-to destination for hikers, cyclists, skiers and weekend escapers.
The White Mountain National Forest, established in 1911 following passage of the Wicks Act, encompasses much of the White Mountain region. The White Mountains are a mountain range covering (800,000 acres (3,200 km2) of land) approximately one-quarter of New Hampshire, and a smaller piece of western Maine.
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The White Mountains also encompass the Franconia Ridge, Sandwich Ridge, Carter-Moriah Ridge, and Kinsman Ridge in New Hampshire, with the Mahoosuc Range running along the boundary between it and western Maine.
The White Mountains encompass state parks, memorable small towns, scenic parkways, mountain ranges, waterfalls, hiking trails, and more. These days, the White Mountains are a favorite getaway of outdoor enthusiasts from the greater Boston, MA area.
They come out to enjoy the many hiking trails, ski resorts, and tax-free shopping opportunities in the White Mountains. There are several different hiking areas in and around White Mountain National Forest itself, and some others located in some of the smaller state parks within the region.
Named for the backwoods folk hero Dolly Copp, and partially located on a farmstead that she ran with her husband, Hays, in the mid-to-late 1800s, this revered campground of 177 sites–the largest within White Mountain National Forest–puts visitors on the door step to the Presidential and Carter-Moriah Ranges, and nearby the Daniel Webster Scout Trail leads hikers right up to the Northeast Base of Mount Washington. The three-hour round-trip trek provides ample time for gazing out over the iconic Omni Hotel at Mount Washington, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and New Hampshires Presidential range. The Mount Washington Auto Road is a 7.6-mile climb that takes about 30 minutes, and each turn on the road offers unique views of the White Mountains.
The historic 7.5-mile Scenic Byway to Cannon Mountain Summit offers breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery as you climb up. A quick 10 minute ride on a funicular takes you straight to the top of Cannon Mountain, reaching an astounding elevation of 4,080 feet. The most unique experience at Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln is a gondola ride, New Hampshire’s longest scenic Skyride. Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln has their very own zipline, aerial forest swing, mountain biking trails, and golf courses.
You can take ski or snowboard lessons, or make a vacation out of your visit by staying in their Lodge. The popular Old Man of the Mountain website is located here, along with Kinsman and Franconia Mountain Ranges, Cannon Mountain Resort and Aerial Tramway, the New England Ski Museum, Recreational Trail for biking, Cannon Cliff for rock climbing, and the Appalachian Trail. This park is home to such national treasures as Flume Gorge, the Cannon Mountain aerial tramway, and the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza and Historical Site.
Other subranges include Franconia Mountains, Carter-Moriah, and Sandwich Ranges. Even better, you can see Canada, as well as mountains in four different states, on a clear day. Garfield Summit can see the North Twin Mountains, the South Twin Mountains, and Galehead Mountain very clearly.
Those of us who are hiking on anyway, are going to head up down into the Presidential Range, climb up South Twin Mountains 4,902 feet (1,491m) peak, then summit Mt. Guyot, 4,580 feet (1,396m).
The highest point on the range is, of course, its highest peak, Mount Washington. The highest and most visible of these mountains is Mount Washington, whose 6,288-foot (1,917-meter) height is a respectable 6 288 feet (1,917 meters), making it the highest mountain in the northeastern United States. The famous Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast, and is the site of the fastest wind gust ever recorded on Earth, 231 miles per hour. The White Mountains best-known mountain is 6,288-foot (1,917 m) Mount Washington, which is the highest peak in the northeastern United States and held the record for the fastest surface wind gust ever recorded on Earth (at 231 mph (372 km/h) in 1934) for 76 years.
This 10-mile loop takes you to two of its highest peaks–Mount Hight and Carter Dome, each approaching 5,000 feet–and across Carter Notch, a stunningly beautiful mountain pass home to two reflective lakes and an isolated Appalachian Mountain Club cabin, where delicious soups and snacks are served. Perhaps one of the most iconic things to do when visiting the White Mountains in the fall is take the spectacular Kancamagus Scenic Byway (known as the Kanc by locals). If you are looking for a scenic view of the stunning New Hampshire Fall foliage, then look no further than the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tram. The Conway Scenic Railway is the best way to take in the beauty of Mount Washington Valley without actually having to climb any mountains.
This hillside ride is an absolute blast, a great chance to take in some incredible views and let out a few joyful shouts. From the moment you breath the crisp mountain air to entering the historic Great Hall, complete with vaulted ceilings and stone fireplaces, you are enchanted by Omni Mount Washington.
The White Mountains are crossed from north to south by U.S. Route 3 and Interstate 93 via Franconia Notch and New Hampshire Route 16 via Pinkham Notch, and east to west by Kancamagus Highway (part of New Hampshire Route 112) via Kancamagus Pass and U.S. Route 302 via Crawford Notch.
White Mountain in NH Family Friendly Activities
The following is a list of unique and interesting kid-friendly attractions and places in the White Mountains where you will be among many other families.
White Mountains Attractions
The Mount Washington Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway, also known as the Cog, is the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway. The railway climbs Mount Washington in New Hampshire, United States. It uses a Marsh rack system and both steam and biodiesel-powered locomotives to carry tourists to the top of the mountain. Its track is built to a 4 ft 8 in gauge, which is technically a narrow gauge, as it is 1⁄2 inch less than a 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in standard gauge. It is the second steepest rack railway in the world after the Pilatus Railway in Switzerland, with an average grade of over 25% and a maximum grade of 37%. The railway is approximately 3 miles long and ascends Mount Washington’s western slope, beginning at an elevation of approximately 2,700 feet above sea level and ending just short of the mountain’s summit peak of 6,288 feet. The train ascends the mountain at 2.8 miles per hour and descends at 4.6 mph. Steam locomotives take approximately 65 minutes to ascend and 40 minutes to descend, while the biodiesel engines can go up in as little as 36 minutes.
Story Land is a theme park located in Glen, New Hampshire, which opened in 1954. The park is meant to appeal to families with children up to the pre-teen ages
Conway Scenic Railroad
The Conway Scenic Railroad is a heritage railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire, United States, owned by Profile Mountain Holdings Corp. The railroad operates over two historic railway routes: a line from North Conway to Conway that was formerly part of the Conway Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad, and a line from North Conway through Crawford Notch to Fabyan that was once part of the Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad. The Conway line is owned by Conway Scenic, and the Mountain Division is owned by the State of New Hampshire. The railroad’s main terminal is located in historic downtown North Conway in the Mount Washington valley. The station complex has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
Santa’s Village is a Christmas-themed amusement park located in Jefferson, New Hampshire. Most of the 23 rides have Christmas or winter-themed names, such as “Rudy’s Rapid Transit Coaster” and “The Great Humbug Adventure”. The rides are designed for families with children under age 13. There are also three theatres, two of which present live shows and a third that features a 3-D film called A Tinkerdoodle Christmas. Visitors can visit Santa’s home, sit in his rocking chair, and have a picture taken with Santa.
White Mountains Towns
White Mountain Ski Areas
LOON Mountain is located in Lincoln, NH off exit 32 on I93.
Cannon Mountain, is right off of I93 as you go through the ‘notch’. One of the most scenic centers in NH.
Wildcat Mountain, is a great throwback ski center.
Floating on the Saco
Fairy House Tour Autumn at Strawbery Banke; not just the girls, who regularly arrive in fairy costumes.