Regional Guide

Overview - White Mountains
Peak experience: Mount Washington's summit

Since Revolutionary War times, U.S. citizens have come to the White Mountain and Lakes Region of New Hampshire to get away from it all. Grand hotels and seasonal resorts opened their doors to guests who were attracted by the region's waterfalls and extensive wilderness, making New Hampshire the most touristed area of New England through the early 1900s. With the advent of the automobile, the success of the railroad, and the attraction of the western frontier, the flow of visitors slowed to a trickle and much of the tourism industry dwindled. But while the cities to the south and west grew, the small towns, sturdy character, and pristine wildlands that originally brought people to the Granite State have remained. More than 200 years later, people have come back to New Hampshire to revive their soul.

The centerpiece of this region is White Mountain National Forest. The largest forest in the east offers 1,200 miles of hiking trails, an array of cross-country skiing, and serene camping. Loon Mountain and Waterville Valley in the Western Whites have grown into year-round resorts. And—bonus—the Appalachian Mountain Club maintains eight huts in the forest to take refuge in after a day on the trail.

The most consistent draw for forest visitors is Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the northeast at 6,288 feet. Folks in Colorado, whose 14,000-foot peaks dwarf New Hampshire's crown, may scoff at its height, but anyone whose ever been there knows the power. The weather here has been compared to that of Antarctica, and the highest wind speed ever recorded, 231 mph, was clocked on its top. For those of you not feeling up to the task of trekking to the top, the Mount Washington Auto Road and the Mount Washington Cog Railroad offer a more relaxing mode of travel.

To the south of the Whites lies the Lakes Region, which boasts a ton of outdoor diversity. Boat, camp, and fish on Lake Winnepesaukee, the largest lake in the region. Or spend an evening in Woleford, the oldest resort town in America.

To the north of the Whites are the Great North Woods, the least-touristed section of the state, where you'll find quick-running water, loons, moose, and bear. From snowmobiling to trout fishing, the rugged outdoorsperson will find fun here.

With four true seasons and the most diverse array of hiking in the northeast, the White Mountains region invites you to explore its lands any time of year.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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