6 Things to do in the White Mountains before Spring is fully sprung
Spring is one of New Hampshire’s most vibrant seasons. As the White Mountains shed their white layer of snow, to reveal… brilliant white granite, the region’s wooded mountainsides and farmlands get greener by the minute.
For a moving panorama there is no better way to experience the
full range of forest, river and mountain views right now than the Conway Scenic Railroad, which is operating on a spring schedule through May. It’s a great way to relax and immerse yourself in the surroundings and experience a greater variety of local scenes than one can in one day on foot or by car.
Hiking is the original attraction in the White Mountains, and while springtime on the highest summits is not a place for the casual hiker (hint, it’s still winter up there) it’s a great time to explore the foothills. Every footstep you hike in April and May elevates your fitness for peak-bagging come summer. In the Western White Mountains, check out Lonesome Lake in Franconia Notch State Park – right across from Mt. Lafayette this walk rewards you with a pristine high elevation pond as a picnic site. Other good options include Mt. Catherine in Tamworth, or Black Cap in North Conway.
Skiing continues for a few more weeks in Pinkham Notch; Wildcat Mountain is persevering with lift-served skiing and across the highway (and notch and a few miles of tough hiking) Tuckerman Ravine offers off-the-chart extreme slopes or well-prepared die-hard expert skiers and snowboarders. It’s a great show for ski enthusiasts who hike up strictly as spectators… not as daunting as skiing but still a hike that needs more preparation than your basic “three hour cruise.”
Why are the other ski areas closed? One clue is found in the rushing rivers. The New Hampshire “spring run off” turns northern New Hampshire’s always-scenic waterfalls into breathtaking sights; stand back and let your jaw drop, this is waterpower fast and furious. Start your tour with the famous drive-to waterfalls in Crawford Notch and Lower Falls on the Kancamagus; then venture into the woods to see Arethusa Falls (trailhead in Crawford Notch State Park), Rocky Gorge waterfall (a short walk off the Kancamagus Highway), and the famous Basin Falls which are a short walk from a dedicated parkway pullout in Franconia Notch State Park.
Another way to enjoy spring run off is fishing. The fresh water seemingly invigorates the fish (this is not a scientific journal, in case you were wondering) and NewHampshire’s fishing season expands to include many more species starting in April. Pick up a fishing license online or shop locally for both a license and local lore, then cast a line for dinner or “catch and release” sport. Your fishing license helps support wildlife habitat and management in New Hampshire and also provides you with the benefits of a “Hike Safe” card. Here’s how to get a license.
Spring is a great time to make a summer vacation reconnaissance mission. With little traffic on the road and pre-season lodging packages think of this as a bonus vacation. You will enjoy some adventures that are unique to spring and learn valuable tips for making the most of your summer vacation. In addition to the Conway Scenic Railroad, other attractions that are offer pre-summer activities include Alpine Adventures with its indoor BigAirBag Stuntzone and Thrillsville, and opening in early May the Lost River Gorge, Mt. Washington Cog Railway, Mt. Washington Auto Road, Polar Caves Park and the Flume Gorge. Make use of our Dates of Operation to find specific operating info on these and all attractions.