The White Mountain National Forest is comprised of 698,811 acres
in New Hampshire and 42,363 acres in Maine. The Forest is known
for its spectacular fall foliage. It has 23 developed
campgrounds, 19 of which meet the selection criteria
The White Mountain National Forest is not far from the major metropolitan areas of New England and Northeast but it feels like a thousand miles. In the lush green forest, next to clear streams, and with views of awe-inspiring mountains above, the cares and stress of urban life fade away. White Mountain National Forest's visitors find a variety of recreational opportunities and camping locations that relax and challenge. Whether looking for the solitude of a deep forest hike, a good fight from a feisty Brown trout, the star-studded splendor of a night sky, the excitement of capturing on film a doe with her fawn, or the camaraderie of a bicycle tour through the countryside, it can be found in the White Mountain National Forest.
New England is known for its diverse hardwood forests. The annual display of autumn colors brings many people to the White Mountain National Forest to enjoy the fall beauty. While it would be difficult to find a place that doesn't provide a visual feast for the eye each Fall, the Kancamagus Highway (State Route 112), from Lincoln to Conway, is possibly the most popular. However, this Highway is a delight year round.
Rising 3,000 feet as it crosses the flank of Mt. Kancamgus, State Route 112 offers dramatic views of valleys and mountains, as well as stretches of lush shadowy forests, and glimpses of the Swift River. Used as a thoroughfare since 1837, the history of and along the Kancamgus Highway is interesting. For detailed information about Kancamgus Highway, stop by an Information Center or the Ranger District office in Conway, NH.
Tucked in among the beech, maple, birch, pine and fir along the Kancamgus Highway are six campgrounds with names like Jigger
Johnson (site of the Russell-Colbath homestead), and
Passaconaway (named for a Chief who in 1627 united over 17 tribes of Central New England into the Panacook Confederacy and maintained peace in the area). Each campground is attracts car, tent, recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts. Incidentally, Kancamagus was the name of a warrior/chief who lead the Pennacook people in their last uprising against Europeans in 1876.
Of course, it isn't just Fall colors and history that attracts visitors to the White Mountain National Forest. Many come for the hiking or fishing. The White Mountain's many ponds, streams, and rivers hold a bounty of Brook, Rainbow, and Brown trout, as well as some Atlantic salmon and various panfish. Many of the developed campgrounds, such as Basin, Campton, and Russell
Pond, have good fishing right there.
The White Mountain National Forest is crisscrossed with numerous hiking trails - far too many to mention here. Trails range in length (from the 0.5-mile Covered Bridge Nature Trail to the Appalachian Trail which connects Georgia and Maine). A favorite of the authors' is Church Ponds Loop Trail. A wintertime cross- country ski trail, this comfortably level trail is a leafy tunnel through the forest with scenic ponds as the reward. At the other end are the more serious challenges found on trails in the Great Gulf, Caribou-Speckled Mountain, Penigewasset, Presidential Range-Dry River, or Sandwich Range wildernesses.
Towering over the Presidential Range Wildernesses is the 6,288- foot Mt. Washington. Here is the "grandfather" of the White Mountain's hiking challenges, the 4.2-mile Tuckerman Ravine Trail. While the distance doesn't sound like much, the challenge lies in the elevation change, unpredictable weather conditions, and terrain. Only for experienced hikers with good equipment, Tuckerman Ravine Trail is understandably not for everyone. Alternatives methods to reaching the top of Mt. Washington are the Mt. Washington Auto Road or Mt. Washington Cog Railway. Both modes provide excellent viewing opportunities without the physical challenges.
Convenient to Mt. Washington and the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is a special campground named Dolly Copp. This is a very large camping location, the largest in the Forest, but has retained the White Mountain National Forest's trademark rustic feel. The campground is named for the wife of Hayes D. Copp who settled on the land in 1827. By the 1850s travelers were stopping at the Copp farm and enjoying Dolly's cooking, homemade wares, and hospitality on a regular basis. The Copps left their farm in 1881 but their presence can still be felt in the mounds of stone, remnants of foundations, and grand old apple trees. Today, campers at Dolly Copp campground can also enjoy the mountain views, clear-flowing streams, and lush forest once known to only those who lived or visited the Copp farm.
While Dolly Copp campground is the largest in the White Mountain National Forest there are many developed campgrounds with far fewer sites within the Forest's boundaries. Zealand, near
Bretton Woods ski mountain, and Wild River,, on the banks of that river, are two of the smallest and perhaps most undiscovered developed campgrounds in the Forest. And, there are a host of wonderful campgrounds between these and Dolly Copp awaiting discovery.
Along with forest related recreation, there are many picturesque, quaint, old townships and villages scattered throughout White Mountain National Forest. These townships and villages offer a variety of activities, such as concerts, walking tours, shopping, restaurants for a "Cook's-niteout," for visitors to enjoy. From views of awe-inspiring mountains, clear streams, rivers, and ponds at almost every turn, a wide variety of trails, lush forest, and great fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, the White Mountain National Forest has something for everyone. It is a good place to just slow down and enjoy the day.
RV Waste Stations available for a fee:
Beaver Hollow Campgrounds - Rt. 16, Ossipee, NH
Chocorua Camping Village - Rt. 16, Chocorua, NH
Franconia Notch State Park, Cannon RV Park off of Rt. 93
Goose Hollow Camp & RV Park - Campton, I-93 exit 28, Rt. 49
Littlefield Beaches - Rt. 26, Bethel, ME
Town of Gorham Water & Sewer Dept. - Rt. 2, toward Shelburne, NH
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223
RANGER DISTRICT OFFICES
80 Glen Rd.
Gorham, New Hampshire 03581
Bethlehem, New Hampshire 03574
RFD #3, Box 15, Rt. 175
Plymouth, New Hampshire 03264
33 Kancamagus Hwy.
Conway, New Hampshire 03818