One thing that amazes me about the east coast is how small the states are. Because New Hampshire is such a small state and a short drive from major cities like Boston and Portland, White Mountain National Forest in northern New Hampshire can be easily fit into a weekend. Last summer, we got a chance to go there a few times – here are our favorite moments.
By far the most scenic and biggest peak, Mount Washington is a can’t-miss. The Mount Washington Hotel sits at the bottom of the mountain and Bretton Woods Ski Resort around it, with plenty of options for dining, skiing and other activities.
The Cog Railway is a historic train that runs all the way up Mount Washington, with views of the entire park. You can even see parts of Maine, Vermont and Canada. It’s a great alternative to hiking if you don’t have the time or energy to get to the top of a peak.
Franconia Notch State Park + Cannon Mountain
Franconia Notch is located in the northwest corner of the forest, near Cannon Mountain. We got the chance to spend time in Franconia Notch State Park, home to the famous Flume Gorge. This state park pretty much has it all – a sandy beach, a campground, a bike path and plenty of surrounding mountains for hikes. Cannon Mountain was our choice for a hike – but there are plenty of 4000-footers in the area.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway gives you an ideal view of the mountains and the state park. One of the reasons Cannon was our favorite hike of our weekend trips was hiking up and being able to take the tramway down – it saved us the time and gave us a scenic reward for the four hour hike up.
If you don’t even make it out of the car, the White Mountains are still worth it. Bear Notch Road was our “secret pass” in the park, only open a few months of the year and totally worth the detour with new creeks and mountain views along the way.
The Kancamagus Highway is a scenic, 34-mile drive right through the middle of the forest, taking you to spots you can’t get to by going on the normal highways. If you have time to make it down these roads and get around the entire park, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all that you’re able to see along the way.
New Hampshire and the smaller states around it are some of the most underrated parts of the east coast. Each time we traveled up to the White Mountains, we were stunned by how much we could see.
White Mountain National Forest Weekend Recommendations
Don’t Miss: Mount Washington, Franconia Notch State Park.
If You Have Time: Driving all the way around the forest, carving out at least one hike.
Skip: Getting a hotel – camp instead.