This article was produced in partnership with Visit New Hampshire, which reminds you that unforgettable winter adventure is just a short drive from Boston, New York, and Montreal.
New Hampshire showcases some of the most stunning natural beauty, as well as some of the most exciting adventure opportunities, in all of the Northeast. From towering Mount Washington to the beaches and rocky coves of its Atlantic coastline, the state is blanketed by forests and lakes, and crisscrossed with trail systems. Quiet and quaint villages serve as launch points for daily excitement, as well as ideal spots to relax and recharge when you’re done. The diversity of options will satisfy a crew looking to test themselves for a weekend outdoors, a family looking to learn new sports, or just a couple looking to relax in front of a fire with a great view. The next time the mountains are calling you, here are eight reasons to consider New Hampshire.
Spend a Night in the Coldest Place On Earth
Where: Mount Washington Observatory
At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington doesn’t rank amongst the globe’s highest peaks, but it has the highest recorded wind gusts and one of the coldest recorded temperatures anywhere. Spend a night on the summit inside the Mt. Washington Observatory with the mountain’s staff scientists to get intimate with the world’s most intense weather. After summiting a by snowcat, explore the high alpine with one-on-one instruction in Risks and Decisions in Wild Weather, The Science of Winter Storms, Winter Mountaineering Essentials, Weather Basics and Climate in the White Mountains, as well as an observatory tour. You may leave with bragging rights having endured hurricane-force winds, epic icing, arctic temperatures, and blowing snow. Ask nicely, and they’ll throw you a kettle of water. In the right conditions, it freezes instantly and falls to the ground as ice. [$999, mountwashington.org]
Learn to Mush
Drive a dog pack through deep winter when you spend a half-day at New Hampshire’s Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson. Choose to master mushing basics or take an interactive ride with your family—some tours and courses welcome kids as young as two years old. Instructors will harness your team from the kennel’s 80 dogs, most of which are rescues, then you’ll hit the trail. Register for the Musher for a Minute crash course, and after learning how to prep the canine team and ready the sled for the trail, you’ll mush your own team from the tail of a double driver sled. [$425 per sled, dogslednh.com]
Snowshoe to a Backcountry Hut
Where: Pinkham Notch
Hike from Pinkham Notch along frozen lakes, and past precipitous cliffs deep into the wooded White Mountains to Carter Notch Hut. Built in 1914, it’s one of the most tranquil and least visited huts, especially in winter. Strap on snowshoes and pack a lunch for the day trip along snowy trails with stunning panoramic views of the nearby mountains. In winter, the hut’s two bunkhouses and stone hut are self-serve. Pack in warm clothes, a winter sleeping bag, your headlamp and food, and you can spend a night. Three trails lead to Carter Notch, including two from Pinkham Notch Visitor Center which provides weather and conditions reports. If you do stay the night, Carter Dome is a mile trek from the hut and has 360° views of the Presidential Range. [$28 to stay, outdoors.org]
Backcountry Ski the New Hampshire Woods
The three peaks of Baldface on the Maine/New Hampshire border have been a locals-only backcountry ski zone for decades. Now, it’s sanctioned for those who want to earn their turns in the White Mountain National Forest, from the open slab of Baldface Knob down through the Ridgeline glades, which start steep and transition to mellow cruisers midway. You’ll carve turns for 2,500 feet from the top of the Knob to the parking lot. The designated skin track climbs Slippery Brook Trail to tree line at 2,400’. Traverse north under Baldface Knob to dance through powdery glade runs back to the base. If you’re equipped and experienced for alpine travel and want to ski the bald summit, continue up Slippery Brook Trail to the Knob. If you’re new to the backcountry, or want to explore the alpine but need avy gear, book Synnott Mountain Guides for a guided tour. [granitebackcountryalliance.org]
Eat at Polly’s Pancake Parlor
Where: Sugar Hill
Start your day with steaming fresh oatmeal, buttermilk, or buckwheat pancakes drenched in New Hampshire maple syrup. Polly’s has been serving up homemade flapjacks hot off the griddle with flour ground on-premises and maple tapped on restaurant’s farm since 1938. The building was recently updated, but it’s as charming as ever, with planks from the original barn walls, décor dominated by a collection of the farm’s original tools and antiques from the area. Portraits of the farm’s long lineage adorn the pancake parlor walls, as do Civil War relics. And if pancakes don’t strike your fancy, don’t stress. They also serve homemade quiche, soup, sandwiches, eggs, homemade pie and more. [pollyspancakeparlor.com]
Nordic Ski at New Hampshire’s Most Family-Friendly Network
Ski in the shadow of Mount Washington and the Presidential Mountains, and through the cozy hamlet of Jackson, N.H. Jackson XC’s 93 miles of maintained trails winds back and forth across three river valleys over 60 square miles of White Mountain highlands. It also connects with Appalachian Mountain Club trails in Pinkham Notch, and backcountry adventure trails in White Mountain National Forest. Ski self-guided—maps are online. From the base lodge, tour through New England hardwood forests to viewpoints of the surrounding mountains, ski a world-class racecourse or opt for ungroomed adventure skiing before popping into the Cocoa Cabin on the Ellis River Trail, or eateries and pubs and inns along the way. Lessons and rental gear are also available. [$21, jacksonxc.org]
Learn to Snowkite
Where: North Conway
If the ski areas are crowded, don’t pass on the thrill of snow sliding — try snowkiting. If you’re new to the sport, a course at Hardwater Kiting will teach you kite management, and how to use the wind to speed over ice and snow. Hardwater’s hour-long beginner lesson not only includes an overview of winter kite usage and an introduction to the basics of flying an HQ FLUXX 1.3 trainer kite; at the end of the lesson, you get to take the kite home so you can keep practicing. Hardwater also offers one-on-one instruction for experienced kiters to help you take your skills to the next level. [$120, hardwaterkiter.com]
Where: Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford
Load up your wanna-be husky dog, your Nordic skis or fat bike, and with Gunstock’s help, you will learn how to cruise through winter as a team. Joring, which is Norwegian for “driving” or “pulling” is the sometimes hilarious, often thrilling sport of trail riding or Nordic skiing harnessed to your dog, who helps propel you up hills and along flats. Take a lesson, and Gunstock Mountain’s instructors will show you the ropes, teach you the commands to keep you on the same side of an upcoming tree and show you the ropes of how to manage a joring harness and tow line. [$60, gunstock.com]
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