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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Sometimes walking "backward" is the only way to go in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

by: Bob Cohen

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Contact Information:

White Mountain National Forest Box 638 Laconia, NH 03247 603/528-8721 Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays

Hut System Reservations Appalachian Mountain Club, Pinkham Notch Camp Box 298, Rte. 16 Gorham, NH 03581 603/466-2727

Location: The White Mountain National Forest is located in northern New Hampshire and part of Maine, 150 miles from Boston. From Pinkham Notch, Gorham is 11 miles north; North Conway is 15 miles south; and the quaint village of Jackson is 8 miles south.

Getting There: From Boston, take I-95 north to Spaulding Turnpike north, which eventually turns into Rt. 16. Travel on Rt. 16 to Conway, New Hampshire, where routes 16 and 302 converge. Continue north to Glen, where the two roads diverge. Head east on Rt. 302 to the Crawford Depot.

Seasonal Information: In summer, temperatures can be anywhere from freezing to the 50s. There is the offbeat chance it might reach into the 60s or low 70s. Afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon, and there may be freak summer snowstorms.

In winter, temperatures can get as low as 40 degrees below zero. Winds can be extremely high at 130 m.p.h. Snowfall is around 100 inches per year. Avalanches are a threat.

Average Highs & Lows March: 18 to 37 degrees July: 56 to 78 degrees October: 36 to 56 degrees January: 6 to 26 degrees

Weather forecasts: 603/466-2725

Wildlife: Red foxes, red squirrels, moose, deer, woodchucks, and elusive bobcats live in the area. Black bears are fairly common, so keep food away from your tent.

If you're an angler, you'll appreciate the brown trout, rainbow trout, eastern brook trout and atlantic salmon that inhabit the area.

Insects: Black flies are prevalent in this area from late spring to early summer, usually at their worst from mid-May to mid-June.

Plant Life: Some alpine flowers can take up to 25 years to flower for the first time -- and one hiker's footprint can destroy that plant forever. There are many species of endangered plants here, so tread lightly.

Facilities: Make reservations for the huts available from Appalachian Mountain Club several months in advance. The AMC also operates a hiker shuttle service (there's a small fee), so you only need one car. Drivers will pick you up at designated spots and drop you off at your car.

Parking: Contact park office for information.

Permits: No permits are required.

Policies: Policies & management information will be available in the near future.

Hazards: Be alert to extreme weather.

Leave No Trace: Be careful not to tread on fragile plants.

All LNT guidelines apply.

Maps: The best maps are the AMC White Mountain Guide's Map 5 (Franconia) and 6 (Mt. Washington), or USGS maps (Crawford Notch, NH, South Twin Mountain Quadrangle, and Franconia, New Hampshire). Contact: Appalachian Mountain Club 5 Joy Street Boston, MA 02108 617/523-0636

Other Trip Options: In the vicinity are Crawford Notch State Park and Fraconia Notch State Park (including a waterfall gorge and a ski area).


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