The White Mountain National Forest straddles the Maine-New Hampshire border and offers countless opportunities for winter adventure, appealing to seasoned recreationists and novices alike.

The nearly 800,000 acres of public land in the White Mountain National Forest is managed by the USDA Forest Service for multiple uses, providing recreation, timber, wildlife habitat, wilderness, and clean air and water. Wintertime in the forest provides unique scenery and a variety of recreational opportunities just south and west of Bethel.

Hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing

Several commercial cross-country and downhill ski areas operate on the White Mountain National Forest, offering services and convenience. Winter is a special time of year in the forest, but requires travelers to plan ahead and prepare with the appropriate equipment for comfort and safety. Skis, snowshoes, or foot stabilizers may all be necessary for winter travel. Dress in layers, carry plenty of food and water, and be prepared for unexpected changes in weather.  Visit www.hikesafe.com to learn more about hiking safety. 

Roads and trails in the Maine portion of the White Mountain National Forest can be accessed from Route 5 in Bethel, the Flat Road in West Bethel, and the Bog Road and Route 113 in Gilead. Visitors can travel through Stow, Maine to access trailheads at the southern end of Route 113. For more information go to: www.fs.usda.gov/activity/whitemountain/recreation/wintersports

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling in the White Mountain National Forest is allowed only on designated and groomed trails, and snowmobilers share the trails with non-motorized users. For more go to: www.fs.usda.gov/activity/whitemountain/recreation/wintersports

Winter on Mount Washington

At 6,288 feet in elevation, the summit of Mount Washington is the highest point in the Northeast and the centerpiece of the White Mountain National Forest. Thousands of hikers and sightseers come each year for a hiking challenge, to experience Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines, to travel to the summit by road or rail, or simply to enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape.

The winter environment on Mount Washington is severe and unforgiving. Major storm tracks converge at the summit, creating a frozen landscape for much of the year, with unpredictable and sudden changes in weather. It is not uncommon to see -30 degrees with 100 mile per hour winds on any given day.

Mountain travel requires special gear, knowledge of the conditions, training in safety techniques, and experience. The U.S. Forest Service can offer advice and information by phone, in person, or via the Mount Washington Avalanche Center’s website at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org. Visitors can also explore the more sheltered, lower elevation trails around the base of the mountain.

Recreation passes

Snowmobiling in the White Mountain National Forest.

The White Mountain National Forest’s Recreation Fee Program helps maintain and improve many recreation sites in the forest.  Although this pass is not required at all locations, visitors are encouraged to purchase a daily or annual pass for a small fee. Passes can be purchased online, at all White Mountain National Forest Ranger Stations, and at many vendors throughout New England.

Visitor information

For directions, trail guides, maps, passes and specific information about winter recreation in the White Mountain National Forest visit the Androscoggin Ranger District’s Visitor Center, 300 Glen Road, Gorham, N.H., call (603) 466-2713, or visit www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain.

White Mountain National Forest

 

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