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View Full Version : Advice for what campground to stay at, Mt. Washington NH End of July 2019



Climber714
12-26-2018, 09:15
Hi,

I am planning my annual Adventure of the Year with the Mrs. We're targeting a summer hike and camping adventure in the whites. Goals are:

Franconia Ridge Trail
Mt. Washington via Tuckerman's
Arethusa Falls (shorty for last day before we head home)

We roll with tent camping.

Any advice for which campground to stay at? If one has a shower, that'd be ideal.

Thanks for your input!!!

fastfoxengineering
12-26-2018, 09:56
Hi,

I am planning my annual Adventure of the Year with the Mrs. We're targeting a summer hike and camping adventure in the whites. Goals are:

Franconia Ridge Trail
Mt. Washington via Tuckerman's
Arethusa Falls (shorty for last day before we head home)

We roll with tent camping.

Any advice for which campground to stay at? If one has a shower, that'd be ideal.

Thanks for your input!!!Your going to be doing a fair amount of driving around to get to those places each day. Not a ton. But you do have to drive around alll the ranges and through the notches. Franconia Notch State Park to Pinkham Notch State park is decent drive. About an hour. Dry River Campground would be my first choice for a paid campground if you want in the middle of the Whites. The larger state parks are very congested/loud. There's a ton of smaller paid campgrounds in/around the Whites that are much more peaceful, just google it and look at google maps.

Get yourself a Map Adventures NH 48 map. Excellent map of the whites and all the trails your interested in.

Theres FREE car camping in the whites with no amenities, however its first come first serve and the sites aren not maintained. Pm me if you want more information.

Youll need a parking pass to park the car at the trail heads in the whites. You can buy a ~$25 season pass or pay the ~$5 per day fee as you go. It keeps going up.

I'm local to the whites, have hiked the 48 multiple times, thru hiked the AT, and done all the hikes you've listed. Pm me if for any intel you seek.


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peakbagger
12-26-2018, 12:46
A shower is the tough one if you want it at the campsite as it effectively pushes you out of most if not all of the WMNF campgrounds. The AMC Pinkham Notch facility and the AMC Highland Center does has coin op showers that are maintained for the hiking public so that is option to stop by at the end of the day and take a shower before heading back to the campsite. The state of NH does have the Dry River Campground south of Crawford Notch that does have showers. With that exception If you want a shower at the campground then you end up at commercial campground.

On the other end of the scale are the free WMNF sites hidden away in a few spots. These are just a flat spot with a place to park in the woods. There is usually a fire put but that is it. There are no sanitary facilities except the woods. The price is right but the trade off is you really want to be careful where you step in the surrounding woods. They are stretched out along forest service roads and have the highest level of privacy of the WMNF options. They fill up consistently on weekends. The WMNF campgrounds are pretty well spaced out but you will definitely know you have neighbors which can be annoying if they like to party. The State of NH has a campground, Lafayette Place (no showers) directly at the trailhead for the most popular Franconia Ridge Loop and one just south of Crawford Notch. Parking for this loop is turning into a major PITA with the lots filling up before 7 AM on weekends and still busy during the week. Folks with reservations at the Lafayette Place campground have a place to park at their tentsite. If you are camping elsewhere once the day hikers lots fills up you need to pay for a take a shuttle from an overflow lot or park in an illegal spot along the highway and hope they arent in the mood to tow. Best idea is head out as early as possible in the AM preferably before 7 AM . The air is clearer and the loop is far less crowded in the AM. Thunderstorms tend to form in the afternoon so it best to be off the ridge earlier than later.

Some but not all WMNF campgrounds can be reserved in advance. They fill up on weekends except for the really remote ones over on the Maine side of the Forest. If you want to be in between the two hikes the WMNF Sugarloaf Campgrounds off of Zealand Road are probably the best fit. The closest WMNF Campground to the Tuckerman's trailhead is Dolly Copp. It it the largest WMNF campground and some of the lots are in open field with little privacy while many are in the woods.

With respect to commercial campgrounds I cant give you any direct recommendations as I dont use them. The ones I have visited over the years are nothing special and tend to be cramped. Their money is in long term campers so they tend to just fit the transient tent campers wherever they will fit.

Depending on which hikes you are doing you do not a need parking pass at many trailheads. No need for a pass at the Tuckerman's Ravine trailhead and no need for one at any of the state owned lots in Franconia Notch. A general note is that few people would be up for a Franconia Ridge Loop one day and Washington the next. Most would want a rest day in between so you have plenty of time that day to move campsites if you wish. You can cut down some driving by doing the Jewell Ammonusuc Ravine Trail loop up Washington but I expect most folks would want to visit Pinkham Notch anyhow so its an extra 45 minutes of driving. Note you do need a parking pass for the Jewell/Ammo hike.

Most of the WMNF campgrounds do not have potable water sources but its easy to stop at a store and buy a few jugs of drinking water and use the local streams for everything else.

Slo-go'en
12-26-2018, 13:56
Peakbagger covered the options well. There are a fair number of commercial campgrounds scattered about, but most tend to be RV orientated.



Arethusa Falls is pretty neat. It's a very popular day hike, about a 3 hour round trip, plus whatever time you spend hanging out there. I need to remember to hike up there in the spring when the water is really raging.

While not quite as impressive as Arethusa Falls, the Nancy Cascades on the Nancy Pond trail a couple of miles south of the Arethusa trail head on RT 16 is pretty nice with a lot less traffic. If you go all the way to Norcross Pond, you get rewarded with a nice view. It's about a 9 mile round trip which takes most of the day, but it's a reasonably easy hike.

If you like waterfalls, while at Pinkham go over and see the Glen Ellis falls too. That's a short walk.

W8lkinUSA
12-27-2018, 03:04
I'm not from the area, but a buddy and I stayed at Lost River Valley Campground this past Memorial day weekend. It was crowded and family oriented, but everyone slept at 10pm. Campsites are very close to each other, which may deter some campers.

I enjoyed it very much. Guests were all courteous and friendly. It so happens that owner is from Texas and spends the warmer months caring for the campground. Even the maintenance guy was friendly. I'd stay there again in a heartbeat.

EDIT: Showers are on site and free.

red5
12-27-2018, 06:02
I agree with the Sugarloaf Campgrounds recommendation above. There are two and they are fairly small (in a nice way) and in the middle of your hikes.

Climber714
12-27-2018, 09:43
Decided to go with Dry River CG. Thanks for all of the input! Just booked.

I typically use All Trails to plan my hikes, but I think I'd like a paper backup copy for our trip in case we don't have cell service. Suggestions for a light weight guidebook? Thanks!

sethd513
12-27-2018, 14:09
Decided to go with Dry River CG. Thanks for all of the input! Just booked.

I typically use All Trails to plan my hikes, but I think I'd like a paper backup copy for our trip in case we don't have cell service. Suggestions for a light weight guidebook? Thanks!

Dry river is my go to. I use AllTrails pro all through the whites in all seasons in airplane mode. If you donít use your phone for pictures all day or have a great battery life youíll be fine as long as you upload your map and load it when you start your track. Your true elevation and mileage and all that wonít be 100% till you get a connection and let it sync

I should add I always have a map and compass though.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

peakbagger
12-27-2018, 18:54
FYI NH Fish and Game lists a paper map as a required piece of hiking gear. No real need for trail description, the WMNF has online descriptions for major trails.

Slo-go'en
12-27-2018, 20:21
Once in the area, you can pick up a White Mountain map at just about any gas station/convivence store. My go to map is "Exploring New Hampshire's White Mountains", which is annotated with mileage and average times, points of interest, and so on. There are of course several day hiking guide books available.

peakbagger
12-28-2018, 07:56
The most important map is an overview of the area so you can avoid the busy summer spots. Lincoln NH and Conway NH both can turn into parking lots in the summer. Knowing that there are roads like the Passaconaway Road and Bear Notch road can save you a lot of time.