DescriptionNorth of New Hampshire's central plateau, the White Mountains rise in dramatic relief, cloaked with forests and laced with streams. Among the ranges and ridges are the highest mountains in the Northeast, the Presidential Range, which culminate in the bare granite summit of 6,288-foot Mount Washington. Mounts Adams, Jefferson, Monroe and Madison also exceed 5,000 feet in elevation.
Passes known as notches pierce the uplift; Crawford, Dixville, Franconia, Kinsman and Pinkham notches provide some of the best scenic features in the state. More than 800,000 acres of the region lie within the White Mountain National Forest, which extends into Maine.
The names of several mountains in the southern section of the forest commemorate some of the state's best-known Native Americans. Mount Passaconaway honors the chieftain who united 17 tribes into the Penacook Confederacy in the mid-17th century. Mount Kancamagus remembers Passaconaway's grandson Kancamagus, the last sagamore of the confederacy, who strove for peace with white settlers until he was provoked to attack Dover in 1689.
Because the White Mountains are as noted for outdoor recreation—particularly skiing and hiking—as for their beauty, they are one of the nation's most heavily used forest areas. Some of the ski resorts are world renowned. In summer anglers ply the rivers for several species of trout, and campers take advantage of the numerous campgrounds.
From spring through late fall the extensive network of trails, including the Appalachian Trail along the mountains' spine, lures hikers and backpackers. Many places, such as the Great Gulf Wilderness, are accessible only on foot. Only experienced back-country travelers thoroughly familiar with the terrain and weather should attempt the higher elevations—in any season.
There are visitor information centers at the Pemigewasset Ranger Station, 71 White Mountain Dr. in Campton, phone (603) 536-6100; at the Saco Ranger Station, 33 Kancamagus Highway (SR 112) near Conway, phone (603) 447-5448; and at the Androscoggin Ranger Station, 300 Glen Rd. in Gorham, phone (603) 466-2713. White Mountains Visitor Center , 200 Kancamagus Hwy. (SR 112) in North Woodstock, is open daily 9-3:30, late May-late Oct. and Fri.-Sun. 9-3:30, rest of year; phone (603) 745-3816.
For further information phone (603) 536-6100 or TTY (603) 536-3665.
Things to SeeKancamagus Highway