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White Mountain National Forest (WMNF)

White Mountain National Forest is a recreational and limited commercial area popular for hiking, camping, and skiing. The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) consists of three disconnected tracts of land in New Hampshire and Maine that consists of 800,000+ acres including the Presidential Range, Franconia Notch State Park, Pemigewasset Wilderness, Sandwich Range Wilderness, Caribou/Speckled Mountain Wilderness, and a portion of the Appalachian Trail (Appalachian National Scenic Trail).

Mount Washington, from Conway, New Hampshire (copyright Eric Holsinger)

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The White Mountains are a popular spot for hikers and day hikers alike. The trails are maintained while not damaging the natural landscape. One of the more well known spots is MT. Washington. It is known for its unpredictable weather and its towering 6,288ft. height. The weather center has a station located at the top. Several other mountains of the Presidential Range exceed 5,000ft. and the Range is longest stretch of the Appalachian Trail above the tree line. For this reason, all hikers should head out prepared for hot, warm, cold, or rainy weather all on any given day.

Groups hiking this area can range from small tight groups to larger lengthier groups. The best part about the White Mountains is that no matter the size of the party hiking, there are many trails and everyone will find a trail to please them. This may mean staying on the main trail, or as Robert Frost, a New England native, might suggest, taking a trail less traveled. Either way, you’re bound to find what you are looking for and, more than likely, a pleasant surprise. Many species of birds can be spotted along with ever popular moose, deer, fox and black bear. These animals will avoid people as much as possible, however, the smell of food brought in to the woods by hikers is a tempting treat for a hungry bear in the spring. A good tip would be to hang your food away from your sleeping area.

Huts are available, thanks to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) along the trail approximately a day’s hike away from each other. The huts provide food, shelter and other comforts for hikers. It is possible to pack lighter due to this system. Some lean-to and platforms are also available. Since this system was created to provide a centralized stopping station for hikers, to minimize the effects of humans in this natural setting, there is a fee for each of these spots. Adventurers should call and make reservations as the areas do fill up. For more informatin about the AMC hut system, try the book High Huts of the White Mountains.

Hiking the White Mountains in any season offers new experiences. Looking down from the mountains in to a valley in any season is well worth the trip. The Fall in New Hampshire offers awe inspiring foliage. Hikers can strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis and traverse any given trail. There are spots for fishing and biking also. Even if you choose not to travel the Appalachian Trail or Presidential Range, there are plenty of spots that you could hike through the WMNF where you could very well have the woods to yourself. Traveling along the Kangamangus Highway, a two-lane road that runs through the White Mountains National Forest, offers many spots for hikers and day travelers to stop and take the less travelled path and experience the beauty and wonder of this spectacular forest.


Hiking links
Arethusa Falls, Livermore
Boulder Loop Trail, Albany
Mt Potash, Waterville Valley
Mt Carrigain
Mt Osceola, Lincoln
South Moat, Albany

Your guide to New England travel and recreation information. NETrailhead has a special focus on information about visiting Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. We enjoy the New England outdoors and want to share our experiences so that you may enjoy your visit to New England. Follow us on Twitter at @NETrailhead or check us out Facebook at

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