I have visited the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire at least 3 times and while there’s a lot of outdoor activities you can do there, I want to share 5 which will make your first trip there very adventurous and memorable.
Before I do this, let me explain some basic stuff about the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
What are the White Mountains?
It’s a very large mountain range you can find in New Hampshire. It is part of the Appalachian Mountain range and you can actually explore a large chunk of the Appalachian trail within it.
When is the best time to visit the White Mountains?
If you’re into skiing, snowboard or anything snow related, the White Mountains are an amazing spot to visit during the winter and if you’re into hiking, cliff jumping, swimming, and doing anything outdoors related but not in the snow, then Spring-Fall is a great time to visit the White Mountains.
Here is a summary of the 5 things to do in the White Mountains:
- Visit Flume Gorge.
- Do the I-93 scenic drive through the White Mountains.
- Hike or use the gondola to get to the top of Cannon Mountain.
- Check out Beaver Pond.
- Explore Lost River Gorge.
Though I have explored more than just these 5 spots in the White Mountains, I will say that these 5 in particular stayed with me and I’ll explain why I chose to put them on this list.
Also once I show you the 5 locations, I will also be giving even more awesome sight seeing locations that I found while taking the 2 trips through this region, that I am 100% sure you’ll enjoy. The great news is that they are very close to one another so you can even explore all 5 of them in a single day!
I’ve compiled this list and added it to the infographic you see to your right, but I’ll be giving you many more details on each spot in a moment. My recommendation (if you want to see all 5 spots) is plot them on your GPS depending on which direction you’re coming from so you can explore them in order and be able to do them in a single day. Let’s start with the first place:
1) Visit Flume Gorge (a very scenic gorge):
During my second visit through the White Mountains on a road trip I was taking to Eastern Canada, my friends and I were crossing the White Mountains and decided to make a stop there. And Flume Gorge was one of the locations I had set as a checkpoint while we were here.
It’s a short, beautiful walk to the actual gorge from the parking area, and Flume Gorge State Park itself is also pretty small, but very beautiful as you can see from the photo I added. The following link I just included will give you the details on Flume Gorge and what else you can do there.
It’s a bit slippery to hike here, so be careful and wear good hiking shoes that are especially good for slippery places. The Ozark trail shoes are a good option for this. But aside from the main Flume Gorge attraction, you will also find other, short trails surrounding Flume Gorge that you’re welcome to check out if time permits.
We only had about an hour to check this place out, but we managed to see the whole thing and enjoy the hike that was around the area. I also believe that Flume Gorge is one of the most advertised areas within the White Mountain region. You can see a lot of signs for this place while on Interstate 93 which will be the next region I’ll discuss on this list of 5 locations, as it is truly worth driving through, particularly through the White Mountains.
2) Take the scenic drive through I-93, also known as Franconia Notch:
During my first road trip across the eastern United States, my friend and I accidentally stumbled onto this scenic drive when we were crossing the White Mountains. Our original goal was to visit Baxter State Park (in Maine) and the fastest way to get there from where we were (in Vermont) was to go through I-93.
And as we hit the I-93 and it took us through the White Mountains, we were stunned at how beautiful this drive was.
And even if you don’t have time to visit the other spots on this list, trust me when I say that by just driving through this area is itself a amazing experience (here are 15 other scenic drives in North America I recommend).
There are stops in this region of the White Mountains which you can park at and enjoy hikes which lead to other beautiful views, specifically, Cannon Mountain (which is also on the list). This photo is very nostalgic for me because it represents the first ever road trip I took to see these states with my friend and all the fun experiences we had while we were on it. I still can’t forget the first time I saw Mt. Cannon as we were driving. We did not expect to see this kind of sight and trust me, when you drive through this area, you’ll see what I mean.
3) Stop at Mt. Cannon and take the gondola up to the top of it:
The image above where we are driving through I 93 shows Mt. Cannon (there’s actually 2 of these in the White Mountains, and we visited the one on the west area). There is a parking area near it which you can stop at, hike up to it or use a lift (the gondola).
The gondola itself is a great way to “cheat” hike up to the top of Cannon Mountain but considering that it was raining when we were there and we had to keep going along our trip to Maine, the gondola was our best chance to enjoy the scenery and still have time to see the other locations (I’ll list them below).
Once you reach the top, there are plenty of areas to explore. Here are 5 awesome things to do at Cannon Mountain if you go. And those are just within this specific spot. You will find other regions right next to this area, each of which all have waterfalls, hikes and plenty of other scenic locations. Also Cannon Mountain is a great place to see New Hampshire fall foliage!
But since I didn’t get a chance to check them out yet, I can’t really list them, but if you’ve been to those other neighboring areas I’m talking about (such as Mount Lafayette), let me know! The next 2 locations I’ll be listing are a little bit away from I-93, but are still stunning and very much worth seeing (and the drive itself is also beautiful).
4) Explore Beaver Pond (hiking, kayaking, fishing and more):
Beaver Pond was actually the first scenic area my friend and I saw in the White Mountains (right before we hit the I-93). Once we saw this area, we didn’t care about what other plans we had, we needed to stop and truly enjoy this spot’s beauty:
I have to say, I’ve been to Beaver Pond twice, and each time, no camera that I’ve tried using to take a picture of this place can really show how vast and engulfing this place is. When you’re there, it feels like the mountains there are swallowing the lake and it’s stunning to be there.
Both times I was here, it was extremely peaceful and there are picnic tables where you can just site and relax, but if you look at the photo above, with the boulder area on the right hand side, that is where we hiked after we parked and it was also a very beautiful spot to sit and relax at. That boulder only took us about 5 minutes to get to.
Kayaking from what I know is also allowed there, even though the lake itself is pretty small. If you enjoy kayaking and want suggestions, for now, I can only recommend a few kayaking areas in Florida, but I will update that once I try other places. But yes, Beaver Pond is a beautiful area I highly recommend you visit if you go to the White Mountains.
5) Explore Lost River Gorge:
When people visit this place, they often compare it to Flume Gorge (and vice versa), but if you happen to visit Beaver Pond, or Flume Gorge for that matter, you’ll find Lost River Gorge is extremely close to them (especially Beaver Pond).
We literally signs for this place about 10 minutes after visiting Beaver Pond and decided to stop because the very name attracted us to it. Since my friend had an ankle injury, I decided to explore it by myself and I happened to be the only person there, as it was early in the morning and was raining too.Sadly, I only took 1 photo from inside this area (The others were erased probably when I switched phones), but it basically contains gorges, boulders and even lanterns inside some of the boulder areas.
This area is also close to the Appalachian mountain range. There is no natural hiking involved here as the whole trail has steps and easy areas to walk through, but it will keep you busy for a few hours. Since I was in a hurry, I ran through this whole area and it took me 18 minutes (Yes I checked and I set a record!).
What to wear if you go hiking in the White Mountains:
I wear and bring one or more of these things with me on any hike I do (I’ll share the product links soon), but for now here is a list:
- For hiking shoes, I wear trail running shoes called the Salomon Speedcross 5.
- For backpacks, I typically wear some sort of trail running vest.
- For the rest, you should wear hiking clothes according to the weather.
Questions about the White Mountains you may see (and the answers):
What is special about the White Mountains?
Several things including amazing hiking trails, beautiful fall foliage, highest wind records on some peaks and overall a very beautiful region to visit in the New England area of the US.
Is White Mountains worth visiting?
If you enjoy nature, then absolutely. The White Mountains have a plethora of scenery, waterfalls, hikes and more to explore.
Can you drive to the top of the White Mountains in NH?
Yes there are several mountains with roads that take you to the summit. The most popular and highest is Mount Washington.
More places worth exploring “close” to the White Mountains:
To end this post, I’d like to share other places you can see near (or somewhat near the White Mountains). I rarely stick to visiting one place and staying there long and in the case of the White Mountains, every time I’ve visited that area, it was always in the middle of another major road trip I did and each time, I also covered a lot of other areas near and far from the White Mountains.
The following 7 places I’d like to share with you are located all around the White Mountains and offer their own beauty I recommend checking out. Here they are:
- Ausable Chasm (It’s a beautiful gorge 150 miles north west of the White Mountains).
- Adirondacks (It’s an even bigger mountain range than the White Mountains, in New York State).
- Catskills (This area is basically the White Mountains of New York State).
- Smuggler’s Notch State Park (It’s in Vermont and is about 50 miles from the White Mountains).
- Green Mountains National Forest (It’s beautiful and is 2 hours away from the White Mountains).
- And finally Gulf Hagas which is actually north east of the White Mountains and is in Baxter State Park.
- The last one is actually seeing fall foliage in the White Mountains and nearby and for that, I created a post on the best places to see fall foliage in New England (the White Mountains are included there). There’s also a great article I made on the White Mountains vs Green Mountains which can help with this too.
While many of these spots are hours away from the White Mountains region, if you’re into doing road trips across America like I am, then I promise you, these spots will provide a lot of great memories!