It’s difficult to write about a place you visit often, without thinking about it you just go, in this blog report I will try to explain a few of my favorite places in The White Mountains of New Hampshire.
I’ve camped in The White Mountains of New Hampshire for roughly 15 years, mostly at the same campground. Once the campground opens in May then it’s camping season to me. Traditionally, I’ve camped the last week of June into July, then sporadic weekends from May – October. In my opinion, Fall is one of the best times to be in The Whites.
I’ve found over the years that heading up on a Wednesday or Sunday is the best time. Why? Well if you get there on Wednesday, the weekend campers haven’t arrived yet and if you get there on Sunday they’ve already left the campground so you WIN either day, either way. Campgrounds along the Kancamagus are part of the National Forest, most are first come first serve. Jigger Johnson is the only campground with showers and the sites are spacious. You won’t be disappointed with this campground.
The ride from my home to The White Mountains takes roughly three hours up Route 93N arriving at exit 32 (Kancamagus Highway Rte 112), then it’s another 20 – 24 miles to Jigger Johnson campground. When you exit 93 North onto Rte 112 you’ll be in the town of Lincoln, there you can grab gas, coffee and any other supplies you may need/want. I’d call Lincoln semi-commercialized but, thankfully no big chain stores so it still has a small town feel. There’s a visitor’s center when you come off Rte 93 so drive straight across Rte 112 for a bathroom break and maps of the area.
You could continue up Rte 93N into Franconia for some exploring if you wanted and you would not disappointed but, for the purposes of this writing, I’ll stick with along the Kanc, Crawford Notch, Mount Washington and North Conway.
Heading into the Kancamagus (Locals call it the Kanc)
There’s very limited, if any cell coverage along the Kancamagus Hwy, so make any last minutes calls or send those last minute tweets before you start heading in. You’ll pass Loon Mountain on your right that’s pretty much the last spot for cell coverage. There are many places to stop, take pictures also many trailheads if you’re looking to do some hiking so it could take you time to reach Jigger Johnson if that’s your destination. If you’re heading into the town of North Conway, take Rte 112 the entire 32 miles until you come to Rte 16 then take a left, this can be a congested area but, it’s will be ok as long as it’s not Friday of a holiday weekend #TRUE
Along the Kanc, I’d recommend a stop a
If you’re heading to the Crawford Notch area (Rte 302), I recommend taking a left onto Bear Notch Road from the Kanc just after Jigger Johnson Campground. Bear Notch Road takes you NorthWest of North Conway into the town of Bartlett. At Route 302 (end of Bear Notch Road) take a left for Crawford Notch. There are many enjoyable hikes in the Crawford Notch area, there’s also the AMC Highland Center if you prefer a lodge type place to spend the night. There are many great trailheads just outside of The Highland Center so it could be a great location to spend the night if you don’t have camping gear with you. It’s a little pricey for some people especially if you’re not an AMC member but, you do get breakfast and dinner included, another option is their huge bunkhouse (cheaper, I think you only get breakfast). I love staying at the Highland Center, there’s no TV, no internet a huge fireplace, chairs to sit outside to watch stars….. ask for a room with a view of the Notch, there’s nothing like a misty morning.
If you’re heading to the Mount Washington or North Conway at Route 302 (end of Bear Notch Road) take a right for Mount Washington Rte 16 or take Rte 302 straight into North Conway. If Mount Washington is your destination, from the intersection of Rte 302 / Rte 16 take a left. This is another wonderful scenic drive around the 20 mile mark AMC has another lodge Pinkham Notch / Joe Dodge, which you could also spend the night at with Tuckerman’s Ravine trail and many other trails just outside their doors. Joe Dodge is much smaller than the Highland Center so you’ll need reservations for this location. Small but, an exceptional place to stay. I’ve seen many moose in the small marsh across Rte 16.
Another 5 miles from Joe Dodge is the Mount Washington Auto Road and the Great Glen Trails. You could spend an entire day in this area easily so grab as much information from the rangers in the Pinkham Notch visitors center.
Please be cautious when driving any of the roads in The White Mountains……. MOOSE are out there. I’ve had a lot of luck seeing Moose early in the am and around dusk. I was told many years ago that if you see a moose in one area they’ll be back in that same area in 12 hours, I was also told Moose will travel 250 miles per day so who knows when or where you’ll see a Moose but, Pinkham Notch and along the Kanc have been good spots for me.
My out of state friends that frequently visit The White Mountains generally stay at Golden Gables in North Conway, it’s clean and reasonably priced.
- Kancamagus Highway http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways/2458
- Jigger Johnson Campground
- Flatbread Pizza Company http://flatbreadcompany.com/FlatbreadDirectionsNorthConway%202010.html
- Arethusa Falls
- Pinkham Notch / Joe Dodge lodge http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/pinkham/
- Highland Center http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodges/highland/
- Golden Gables http://goldengablesinn.com/
There’s so much more I could share with you about this area but this is a good starting point….. just grab a map and get out and EXPLORE.