Adventure Towns: White Mountains
Our "Adventure Towns" series is all about the basecamp towns. Each has easy access to the great outdoors, a community with a sense of adventure and a culture that values keeping it local. Here's the pick for the White Mountains.
A note from New Hampshire Magazine: Due to the statewide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of the places mentioned here are either closed or officials strongly advise you to avoid them. For instance, popular hiking spots continue to draw large crowds. We hope that when you do go out, you’ll avoid busy places and practice appropriate social distancing. In the meantime, we hope this guide to our state’s adventure towns provides you with the tools to plan a future trip. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy.
Update: As of April 24, the White Mountain National Forest closed many high-use trailheads, day-use areas and some other facilities. You can find more information and a map of the closures here.
Update: Announced on May 1: “The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) closed several sites last week as part of a tactical pause to assess operations, including staffing, equipment availability and to develop a phased approach to operate within CDC guidelines and prepare for the summer. As part of a phased opening approach in alignment with Maine and New Hampshire State Parks the White Mountain National Forest will be opening most trail heads on the forest.” Read more here.
There are three things that make up a good adventure town. The first and most obvious being easy access to the outdoors and endless ways to recreate. Second, a community with a sense of adventure that is deeply embedded in the culture, and works collectively to help it thrive.
Lastly, top-notch local brews, because no adventure is complete without a good beer. Yet, truth be told, no matter what you’re sipping on, it all begins and ends with a great adventure town to call home.
In a place like New Hampshire, none of these things are hard to come by, and each region has an outdoor mecca with a brand of fun all its own. Whether you want alpine trails and winding singletrack, a pristine surf break, or acres of backcountry ski glades, there’s a basecamp for you. Oh, and beer. There’s plenty of that too.
Ready to put down roots? Here are the best adventure towns in New Hampshire. See all of the selections: Lakes Region, Great North Woods, Southwest and Coastal. Read on to learn about the top “adventure town” in the White Mountains.
The vibe: Heritage meets hipster
The food + drink: Schilling Beer Co.
The adventure: All things White Mountains: Skiing, hiking, biking, climbing
Don’t take it personally, Conway, we love you, we do, but it’s time for Littleton to get the mountain town cred it deserves. At the northern terminus of the White Mountains, Littleton straddles the North Country and White Mountain regions. However, the 10-minute drive to the Whites is what makes it an ideal basecamp for outdoor enthusiasts who want a quick mountain exit.
Here, a thriving maker scene meets a spirited outdoor adventure culture — a facet of their character that makes them unique, for sure, and pleasantly surprises out-of-towners. Foodies and beer lovers will happily get their fill at Schilling Beer Co., while everyone should experience Littleton’s ski town roots at Lahout’s Ski Shop — the oldest ski shop in North America. A national treasure, if you will. Note: Takeout beer, pizza and merchandise online ordering from Schilling is available here.
Then, there’s the adventure: Franconia Notch State Park, Cannon Mountain, a burgeoning mountain biking trail system in nearby Bethlehem, plus climbing both indoors and out, all within a 20-mile radius. Note: See COVID-19 information for New Hampshire State Parks here.