The White Mountain National Forest, in New Hampshire and Maine, is a wonderful place to visit. Spectacular views and a full range of outdoor activities are available. The Appalachian Trail runs through the Forest for 170 miles.
- Supervisor's Office, 719 N Main Street, Laconia, ☏ , (TTY), fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Gorham Office, 300 Glen Rd., Gorham, NH, Phone: +1 603 466-2713. May-Oct daily 8AM-4:30PM; Nov-Apr M-F 8AM-4:30PM. Visitor information services and fully accessible restrooms.
- Plymouth Office, 1171 NH Route 175, Holderness, NH, Phone: +1 603 536-1315. M-F 8AM-4:30PM. Visitor information services and accessible restrooms.
- Bethlehem Office, 660 Trudeau Rd., Bethlehem, NH, Phone: +1 603 869-2626. M-F 8AM-4:30PM. Visitor information services (not fully accessible) and outdoor accessible vault toilets.
- Campton Visitor Center, Interstate 93, Exit 28, Campton, NH, Phone: +1 603 726-3804. Daily 9AM-5PM. Forest information, parking passes, and restrooms.
- Evans Notch Information Center, 18 Mayville Road, Bethel, Maine, Phone: +1 207 824-2134. M-F 8AM-4:30PM. Visitor Information Services and accessible public restroom.
- Gateway Visitor Center, Interstate 93, Exit 32, Lincoln, NH, Phone: +1 603 745-3816. Daily 8:30AM-5PM. Has a full interpretive display that provides a history of the Forest and its evolution. Tactile, hands-on displays as well as an audio-described tour. Restrooms.
- Lincoln Woods Visitor Center, Kancamagus Highway, Lincoln, NH, Phone: +1 603 630-5190, Daily 8AM-3:30PM. Located 5 miles east of Lincoln, this site serves as the starting point for outdoor activities, including hiking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking. There is a parking area, visitor information cabin, trailhead for the Lincoln Woods Trail, a 180 foot (55 m) suspension bridge, and flush toilet facilities, all wheelchair accessible. A pedestrian walkway, accessible from the parking area, offers views up the Pemigewasset River.
Sold by the State of New Hampshire to large logging companies in 1867, the WMNF area was a central part of the industry that had 1832 sawmills and 17 logging railroads in the state of New Hampshire. The Weeks Act permitted the repurchase of the lands starting in 1914 with the original purchase of 7,000 acres (28.32 km²). Today the White Mountain National Forest has grown to 800,000 acres (3,237 km²).
Due to the early settlement of the area the Forest contains many historical sites. Early day farms, logging camps, mills, factories, CCC camps, old railroads, cemeteries. The Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micman, and Maliseet, and other tribes in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont see the White Mountains as a spiritual place. The highest peak in the northeast, Mt. Washington, and the largest expanse of alpine area in the eastern U.S. were heavily used for vision quests.
Several mountain ranges are in the forest, including the Presidential Range. Mount Washington's summit, at 6,288 ft (1916.6 m) is the highest peak in New England. The Forest includes four designated wilderness areas in which no logging is allowed.
Flora and fauna
- The White Mountain National Forest sees 184 species of birds: 38 species year round, 35 migrants or winter species, and 110 during the summer months.
- Common mammals include; Black Bear, Bob Cat, deer, moose, coyote, fox gray and red, fisher, mink, pine marten,raccoon, porcupine, beaver and more. These are the common mammals you could see while hiking.
- A wildlife viewing blind is located near Deer Hill in Maine.
- Peregrine Falcons almost 60 captive-bred falcons were released from cliff sites. Adult peregrines have returned to some cliffs to raise their young.
- Moose sightings - Kancamagus Highway and northernmost sections of the White Mountains are well known for viewings. They are a frequent collision hazard on area highways. Often they can be spotted in marshy areas that collect road salt runoff.
Interstate 93 passes through the Forest and is a direct route from Boston. Interstate 91 approaches near to the west side of the Forest. RT. 16 North
- Logan International Airport in Boston.
- Manchester - Boston Regional Airport in Manchester. Closer, but with fewer airlines and no international service.
Fees and permits
- User fees may be charged for specific uses: boat ramps, swimming facilities, campgrounds, etc.
- Parking: Areas requiring a pass are signed as fee areas. Passes are available at many of these areas.
- Patte Brook Auto Tour, a four-mile self-guided tour starting in Bethel, Maine in the Androscoggin District (western Maine) that you can read and print from this link.
- Route 302 offers amazing vistas of the Presidential Range.
- Nine scenic areas are managed to protect scenery.
- Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves, Rt 112 (Woodstock), ☏ . The gorge offers several attractions, the main being the gorge and boardwalk trail that takes you on a three-quarter mile tour of the gorge. Other nature trails and gardens are also available if you’re not tired of walking yet. For those with children who want to play in the dirt, there is a mining sluice (extra fees pertain) where you can sift for gemstones and shark teeth. Adults: $17; Ages 4-12: $13; Ages 1-3 are free.
- Hiking on over 1,200 miles (1900 km) of trails.
- Mountain biking.
- Picnicking at 14 picnic grounds.
- 2 permitted alpine/cross country ski areas
- 4 permitted alpine ski areas
- 2 permitted cross country areas
- Tuckerman Ravine undeveloped spring skiing area (walk-up).
- Hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts are available in many surrounding towns including:
- The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), ☏ . Maintains eight huts along the Appalachian Trail each able to sleep from 36 to 90 people with propane power, running water and full course meals available at some. By reservation only.
There are 23 campgrounds in the Forest. Some are year-round, but most operate mid-May to mid-Oct. They have tent pads, picnic tables, fireplaces or fire rings, running water and toilets. All campgrounds provide basic services, with no hookups. Daily fees are charged to help cover costs and entrance signs identify fee areas.
Southern White Mountains
- Campton Campground (Reservable).
- Waterville Valley (Reservable).
- Osceola Vista (Reservable).
- Tripoli Road Dispersed Camping.
- Russell Pond.
Kancamagus East and West NH
- Big Rock.
- Jigger Johnson.
- Covered Bridge (Reservable).
- Blackberry Crossing.
- White Ledge (Reservable).
- Zealand Campground.
- Sugarloaf I.
- Sugarloaf II (Reservable).
- Dolly Copp Campground (reservable), Rt 16 Gorham, ☏ . Mid May-mid Oct. The largest, an excellent campground with fairly close access to Mt. Adams, Mt. Washington, and the infamous Imp.
- Barnes Field Group (Reservable).
- South Pond Recreational Area.
- Hastings Campground (Reservable).
- Wild River Campground.
- Cold River Campground (Reservable).
- Basin Campground (Reservable).
- A number of organizations maintain small shelters, and tent platforms throughout the Forest. The Appalachian Mountain Club's AMC White Mountain Guide provides a comprehensive listing of shelters.. It is available at Visitor Information Centers.
- There are 112,000 acres of Congressionally-designated wilderness.
- Leave-no-trace camping is allowed subject to restrictions on wood or charcoal fires which are detailed in a pamphlet entitled:Welcome to White Mountain National Forest, available to read or print from that link or at Visitor Information Centers.
The following restrictions apply to all of the Congressionally Designated Wildernesses, that is: Caribou-Speckled Mountain, Great Gulf, Presidential/Dry River, Sandwich Range, Pemigewasset.
- No motorized equipment or mechanical transport (wheelchairs are an exception).
- Hiking and camping group size must be limited to 10 people or less.
Additional regulations for Presidential/Dry River and Pemigewasset:
- No camping, wood or charcoal fires within 200 feet (61 m) of any trail except at designated campsites.
Additional regulations for the Great Gulf Wilderness:
- No wood or charcoal fires at any location.
- No camping within 1/4 mile (402 m) of the Great Gulf Trail between its junctions with the Sphinx and Gulfside Trails.
- No camping within 200 feet (61 m) of any trail except at designated sites.
Special restrictions for the Cutler River Drainage (including Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines)
- No camping except at the Harvard Mountain Club Cabin (Dec 1-Mar 31 only) and Hermit Lake Shelters (Fee charged).
- No wood or charcoal fires.
Camping in the Alpine Zone (where trees are 8 feet (243 cm) tall or less)
- No camping except on 2 or more feet (61 cm) of snow.
- No camping on frozen bodies of water.
- No wood or charcoal fires.
- The above treeline areas of Cutler River Drainage (Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines and the areas around them including the Alpine Garden and East Snowfields) are closed to camping regardless of snow cover.
For any emergency in White Mountain National Forest, dial 911 from any phone.
Black bears, moose and deer roam the White Mountains. Never leave food or scented items (deodorant, air fresheners) in your car or bring it into your tent. Bears have a keen sense of smell and will detect them. Do not approach animals, particularly young ones as the parent may be nearby. To avoid bear encounters while hiking, make noise so that the animal knows you are coming. Give all animals their space, and never feed any park wildlife. Stay alert and do not exceed the speed limit while driving. Hundreds of moose are hit each year, with fatal results for some drivers.
Other natural dangers in the park come from the weather. Hypothermia is a concern at higher elevations where temperatures can drop below freezing throughout the year. Dress in layers, and be prepared for storms and rapid changes in temperature. When storms are approaching avoid open areas such as the summits of the park's many granite domes; lightning strikes these areas regularly. If a storm does approach, get off of high, open ground. When hiking wear sturdy footwear and drink plenty of water - if you are thirsty that is an early sign of dehydration.