White Mountain National Forest
A large part of New Hampshire’s heritage and legacy lies in the northern portion of the state, the White Mountain National Forest. Established in 1918, this huge expanse of land encompasses some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire United States. Over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail crosses through the Forest and many of the most spectacular mountain ranges of the Appalachians are included in this sprawling area of natural beauty.
Probably the most visited part of the White Mountain National Forest is the Kancamagus highway which travels between Conway and Lincoln, New Hampshire. This 34-mile stretch of road winds and twists its way through the rugged terrain, offering visitors amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges, crystal clear ponds, streams and rivers, natural formations left behind by the retreat of the glaciers some 50,000 years ago as well as those cut into the living rock by centuries of water runoff from melting snow.
While the White Mountain National Forest is seen primarily as a recreational area, the land is also used for logging and limited commercial applications. But a visit to the Forest will fill your day with awe-inspiring scenery, glimpses and sounds of wildlife and leave you with a sense of peace that can only be attributed to the tranquility of this incredible expanse of natural beauty. Logging and other commercial interests are restricted from all but a few specific locations throughout the Forest, thanks to the Federal Wilderness Protection Act of 1984 which protects most of the White Mountain National Forest.
The Forest offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities to enjoy themselves in New Hampshire’s North Country. For example, the Forest is home to 23 campgrounds giving hardcore campers and recreational campers alike a wonderful place to spend some time communing with nature. The Forest is home to over 1200 miles of trails, many of which are so secluded you will be highly unlikely to see anyone else while you’re out there – with the exception of a myriad of wildlife, both flaura and fauna. The Forest is also home to several ski resorts with even more in the area around the Forest. Winter is a popular time in the North Country, not just for skiing, but because the views that are scenic in the summer months are, in winter, beautiful enough to bring a tear to your eyes.
The White Mountain National Forest attracts over five million visitors each year – more than any other national park in the country, except one, the Great Smokey Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. If you haven’t visited the White Mountain National Forest yet, makes plans to do so soon. And while you’re here, give some thought to becoming a local – that way you can enjoy New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest every day of the year.