About Mount Washington Valley and the White Mountain National Forest
North Conway and the surrounding towns of Mount Washington Valley have been a destination for people from all over the world for over 150 years. During that time, the area has transformed from a quiet ski town to a four-season resort town with abundant events and activities no matter when you come. From outdoor activities, like hiking, skiing, biking, camping or canoeing down the Saco, to shopping, dining, indoor water parks and theater, our area offers activities for everyone at every time of the year.
See what’s going on in the North Conway area right now, or check out what activities the area has to offer by looking at our pages by season.
Spring Activities in Mt Washington & North Conway NH
The skiing in Tuckerman Ravine could last until July, though June is more realistic. There are no lifts, and it is a two-hour climb to the base of the skiing. In the Valley, the larger commercial ski areas close by the first of May, which is when spring arrives for the rest of us. This is the time for hikes or walks in the woods. The countryside is coming alive, and the notorious black flies haven’t yet appeared. The lilac is the New Hampshire state flower; spring is their season, and they flourish throughout the Valley.
Fishing is good in New Hampshire, and free if you are a resident over 68. Otherwise, there are convenient Valley locations to purchase a license. Black Bass, Brook Trout, Atlantic Salmon Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout are some of the favorites. Ask us for choice fishing locations.
The rivers are high, and a kayak or canoe can cruise freely from Bartlett to Fryeburg. A sport for those young in body as well as heart is white-water kayaking. The best location is the Swift River near the end of April. It doesn’t last long, just until the mountain melt has gone by, so, if your blood is up, check with the Forest Ranger station for dates.
Idea: Here’s a gentler but equally impressive experience. Park your car at the high point of Hurricane Mountain Road and take the trail through the woods and up to the top of Black Cap Mountain (the one just behind Cranmore). It is positively the best view for the littlest effort in the Valley – 25 minutes of moderate climb.
Summer Activities in Mt Washington Valley, NH
Mt. Washington Valley has been a summer resort for over 150 years. During that time it has developed an enormous variety of facilities: four golf courses, swimming in the Saco, Swift, Ellis and Wildcat rivers as well as in Echo, Silver, Conway, Crystal, Chocorua, Loon, Kimball and Ossipee Lakes; scenic train rides and the Cog; Storyland for kids, hiking, fishing, picnicking, or riding to the top of mountains in chairlifts or gondolas.
The Saco is a river made for canoeing or kayaking; one day take the trip from North Conway’s First Bridge to the covered bridge at Davis Park in Conway (where you see the public tennis courts). Another, put in at Conway’s Smith-Eastman Park (at the end of the short road next to the Conway Police Station) and cruise to the beach in Fryeburg, Maine. If you don’t mind getting out to push the canoe over shallow places, go from Humphrey’s Ledge off West Side Road in Bartlett to First Bridge in North Conway. There are several excellent canoe rental firms that will take you and your canoe to the point of origin and pick you up where you decide to come out.
Prime blueberry picking sites are often jealously guarded secrets, but hints are available if you know whom to ask. Commercial strawberry and apple areas are publicized. There is much in the forest that is edible; the Appalachian Mountain Club in Pinkham Notch is the place to ask about seminars before sampling delicacies like mushrooms.
Idea: Take along a pail and the chairlift to the top of Attitash, at the end of July or early August when blueberries are ripe. There are excellent patches up there – Attitash is Abenaki for blueberry – and this is the comfortable way to get to them.
Fall Activities in the White Mountains, New Hampshire
The only other place in the world where the leaves are (almost) as colorful as in the White Mountains is in Northern Japan. For most people, the White Mountains are much closer! While a hike into the Forest and up a mountain may produce uniquely spectacular photos, some of the very best can be reached with little effort. There is a paved road to the very top of North Conway’s Cathedral Ledge (closed winters and when Peregrine Falcons are nesting on the cliff). Driving through either Pinkham or Crawford Notch during peak foliage also allows you to take in the amazing colors-and spectacular mountain views too.
This is the time of year the towns in northern New England dress themselves up for country fairs. Closest to Mt. Washington Valley are the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, Maine (around the first week in October) and the Sandwich Fair in Sandwich, NH (usually over October 12).
Another hallmark of fall in Mount Washington Valley is Mud Bowl. During the first week in September, fields in North Conway village are flooded to create the “Hog Coliseum” where games are played to raise money for local charities.
Winter Activities in New Hampshire
There are five alpine ski areas in the Valley with a mix of skiing for all levels:
- Attitash in Bartlett is a good intermediate mountain with a couple of excellent expert trails that includes adjoining Bear Peak.
- Black Mountain is for novices and those intermediates that want to look good on any trail they take.
- Cranmore is novice-intermediate right in North Conway, the mountain many of us learned at.
- King Pine Ski Area is a well-cared-for little area for those starting out
- Wildcat Mountain is the big one with the longest expert trails in the Valley, though also a surprisingly good novice area.
There are three major cross-country ski areas:
Jackson Ski Touring has been judged by no less an authority than Ski Magazine as the finest in the east
Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring’s trail layout enables one to ski from one participating inn to a number of others;
Great Glen Trails, sits at the base of Mt. Washington with spectacular views and a quite complete base facility.
If not a skier, nor wishing to be one, New Hampshire has snowmobile trails that one can hop on and tour the whole state. Backcountry hiking and ice climbing can provide adventures you won’t soon forget. There are skating rinks in Conway (indoors at the Ham Arena in Conway) and in North Conway’s Schouler Park illuminated for evening skating. Jackson Resort Association coordinates events leading up to Christmas, and the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce has programs during the holiday week between Christmas and New Years.
And of course, there are sleigh rides and caroling and après ski throughout the Valley!
Idea: If you’re looking for an unusual winter experience, contact the Mt. Washington Observatory (356-8345) for an opportunity to stay overnight on the top of the mountain with “the worst weather on earth”. The trip up is by Snowcat over an Auto Road that is apt to be buried under 20′ of snow.
Or, contact us for ideas on local activities that will be perfect for your group during your stay in the North Conway area!