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  1. #1
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    Default New Hampshire: location near AT for week visit for hiking, running, other activities

    My husband and I want to bring our adult kids (ages 21-34) to stay for a week in an Airbnb or VRBO near the A.T in New Hampshire next June, July, or August. I want to knock out some of the more difficult A.T. sections in day hikes (have completed 1100 AT miles so far). My oldest son and wife are ultra-runners (he completed the Barclay Fall Classic this fall), and the younger two boys will hike or wouldn't mind hanging out in a town area.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a good base area? My guess is near Hanover... ???

    Any ideas on base area, trail sections to knock out (hiking or running), or other things to do?

    Thank you!!!

    I am trying to get the base area set up in the next 10 days as this is our Christmas gift to all...

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    Gorham, NH
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  3. #3
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    Hanover is kind of distant in terms of hiking the more scenic parts of the Whites. Lincoln/Woodstock would be my recommendation and would put you closer to a lot of good day hiking in the Whites, is much more of a vacation/resort destination than Hanover, while still offering a small but nice town. Lincoln is closer to a lot of major natural attractions, will also offer a lot more in both volume and diversity of lodging, from mom and pop cabin rentals, and lots of resorts available through VRBO - all the way up to the Riverwalk Grand Hotel. And not to dis Gorham too much, but it's more a hiking stopover - it wouldn't be on my list as a place to spend 10 days of vacation time.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 12-14-2019 at 19:11.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    And not to dis Gorham, but it's more a hiking stopover - it wouldn't be on my list as a place to spend 10 days of vacation time.
    Although you could rent an ATV and go tearing through the woods. Just make sure you got good medical insurance, as every weekend more then one person ends up running their rental machine into a tree and getting seriously injured. The ATV craze up here has been a boom for the local hospitals.

    But Gorham is well situated for the Northern Presidentials and the Mahoosics. Just be ready for sticker shock when you price a 10 day stay anywhere around here. I'm guessing well over a grand.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5

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    I would suggest farther north in the white mountains area is a much better base of operations.The stretch from Hanover to Glencliff is "easy" compared to east of Glencliff. There are also local shuttle options. There are also some very popular trail runs like the Pemi loop and Presidential traverse for the ultra runners (and lot of other long loops using the AMC trail network). If you want towns be aware that most of the towns are tourist strips, lots of factory outlets and restaurants. The most intact downtown is Woodstock. Lincoln is strip/ski town. the Conways are a major tourist strip. The Conway/Bartlett/Jackson/Glen area reportedly has a lot of AirB&B listings and expect Lincoln would also. Twin Mountain is pretty run down. Gorham is the low to middle income tourist town, its got the basics unless you want to do a day of ATV riding as its the southern gateway to the Ride the Wilds ATV system. There is also a whitewater rafting company in Gorham that does runs on the Magalloway and Rapid Rivers as well as a stretch of the Androscoggin. Plymouth is a college town with an intact downtown. Its 45 minute to an 1 hour 15 minute drive to the AT in the whites. Littleton has an intact downtown and strip development. The Mt Washington Hotel/ Bretton Wood Ski area is in the center of the whites. It strictly a tourist location and the number of summer time restaurants are limited. Hard to beat the view. Randolph is a summer colony with the densest hiking trail system in the area. Pickings are real slim I expect for Air B&B and there is close to zero tourist services. Waterville Valley may pop up on your search. It a great spot but access to the rest of the whites is poor as there is only one easy way in. For beginners I would guess the Bartlett, Jackson, North Conway area is hard to beat and close to AT sections with Lincoln/Woodstock a second choice.

    The standard caveat applies that trails in the whites are far more aggressive than anywhere else on the AT. 1100 miles south of Glencliff isnt great conditioning for the whites. Plan on a substantial reduction in daily mileage at least 1/3. Standard "book time" is 2 miles an hour plus 1/2 hour for every 1000 feet of elevation gain. Realistically many hikers unaccustomed to the whites will have a tough time stringing together 5 days in a row so you may want to schedule a day off from hiking and find something else to do. There are several ziplining firms in the region and a few canoe/kayak outfitters that will rent you a boat and shuttle you.

    The tough part with doing sections of the AT is you really need two cars or a driver that does not plan to hike to do a drop off. AMC has a shuttle system but its set up for people using the huts and burn up a lot of time in the AM.

    Depending on your budget a night at an AMC hut is expensive but hard to beat the experience. Lake of the Clouds allows a two day traverse of the major above treeline section of the whites and is an spectacular location. Greenleaf is also above treeline. Accommodations are bunkrooms and two meals a day. Zealand Falls is in pretty location. Carter Notch, Galehead Mitzpah and Lonesome are mostly convenient spots along the trail although Lonesome Lake is popular with younger families.

    If you are flying in, Portland Maine strangely is the closest airport to the whites unless you are staying in the western side of the whites. Manchester NH is the next closest with Logan in Boston the other choice. Logan has better connections and usually cheapest but traffic in Boston can really be a stressful slow drive during the morning and evening rush hours. It also a hassle in general to deal with the airport. Portland and Manchester are far more traveler friendly.Portland is nice as the airport is right on the ocean and many flights fly right in over the islands around Portland and if you are sitting on the left side of the plane you may see Portland Headlight one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US.

  6. #6
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Although you could rent an ATV and go tearing through the woods. Just make sure you got good medical insurance, as every weekend more then one person ends up running their rental machine into a tree and getting seriously injured. The ATV craze up here has been a boom for the local hospitals.

    But Gorham is well situated for the Northern Presidentials and the Mahoosics. Just be ready for sticker shock when you price a 10 day stay anywhere around here. I'm guessing well over a grand.
    Oops, OP is going for a week, not 10 days - that's HER planning timeframe. I'd agree Gorham is ideal for the Northern Presidentials, but that's about it. Compared to Lincoln, it isn't a very nice town, and as a resort area with other things to do it isn't even close. There are [edit] 6 people total, one hiker and her husband (50's adults), two adult ultra-runners (30's couple?), and two younger adult sons (20's?) who might hike a bit or might just hang out, etc. Gorham just doesn't have as much to offer all the non-hikers as Lincoln, IMO. As for cost, a cabin will be $75 to 150/night, a two bedroom+ condo is going to be $200-300/night range once you throw in cleaning charges and taxes.

    EDITS: I reread the original post. It would seem that for two couples plus the two adults sons you would need a 2 bedroom unit minimum (with pull out couch in LR), with a 3 bedroom condo probably a better choice. Moosilauke, Franconia Loop, can be done as a day hike (peakbagger detailed some of the logistics for the Presidentials in a later post) with someone dropping you off early in the am (also solves the parking issue) and picking you up later, but note that cell service is spotty to non-existent in a lot of the Whites. Calling for a pick-up can't always be relied upon. Getting a ride back to Lincoln or some other point with other hikers you meet (there will usually be plenty in the Whites in summer) is usually quite easy at the end of a day though. Due to the latitude, the days are long up here in early summer, so a 6 am start will give you almost 15 hours of light - it's light until about 9 pm.

    A word about mileage. The terrain is difficult up here. Folks who routinely do 15 mile days on southern parts of the AT often find 8 to 10 miles a very "fulfilling" day here. Lots of elevation gained and lost and the footing often requires more than "just walking".
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 12-15-2019 at 10:12.

  7. #7
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Notch Hostel

    Crawford Room (Stayed a few times with my wife - great combination of privacy and hostel vibe too) + get another private room for other couple.

    This Photos of the private Crawford Room will show that it has an en-suite bathroom, wood stove (not functional), TV with VCR, sitting area with two futons, table for 4, and private porch. it is connected to the main room of the hostel, off of which they also offer another private bedroom — but which is not attached directly to the Crawford Room.

    The private Flat is relatively new to the public (never stayed there) but looks good. I have only seen the photos, but it is a private apartment with a full kitchen it is also attached to the hostel.

    Renting both the Crawford Room and the Flat could be good, and while the communal facilities in hostel might not be “needed” they could add to the fun.


    This is in a good area — understanding that you might want to drive farther north for some of your stay to hike different areas of he Whites.

    https://notchhostel.com/rooms-and-rates/


    Edit: I added a bit more info so as not to scare you off with the word “Hostel”. The place is great as a hostel, but these rooms put it in a different category.
    Last edited by rickb; 12-14-2019 at 22:31.

  8. #8

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    The OP specifically mentioned AirB+B's but if camping isn't out of the question, there are a number of public and private campgrounds which would save a lot of money. But if you got the money to burn, go the luxury route

    The AT in the Whites isn't set up very well to be done as day hikes. You can do pieces of it on each end of a Notch, but you'll have a hard time filling in the gap in the middle without an overnight stay. Or doing a 3,000 foot climb straight up the side of the ridge to get to the top again.

    But we do have a lot of great day hikes to pick from which range from reasonably easy to near death defying. If you had a car, bouncing around the various day hikes would be a good way to see the Whites from all different angles.

    Check out a web site called 52WAV, 52 hikes With A View, all under 4000 feet. I've got a over half of them tagged now. There are also all the 4000 footers to choose from, but these attract a serious crowd, so get to a parking lot early!

    For the runners, we have a 23 mile rail-trail which starts in Gorham and ends at scenic Cheery Pond. (and is closed to ATV's). Gorham has also developed a pretty good mountain bike trail system which could be of interest to the kids.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Read OP’s post too quickly — I now see the crew is larger than I had understood. Not sure why I was thinking two couples.

    A base in North Woodstock/Lincoln gives access to the Franconia Ridge, and a lot of good hiking on the AT as well as a wide variety of hiking off the Kancamagus Scenic Highway (Easy and challenging) and would be a good choice.

    If if you did make your base here, you would probably want to be prepared to drive up to Crawford Notch, or Pinkham Notch to get a taste of those areas.

    Different communities around the Whites have different personalities (Jefferson is a bit gentrified, Conway has the outlet malls, Gorham attracts the ATV enthusiast, and Lincoln seems to have the most skiers, but all are good in their own way.

    Hard to go wrong anywhere between North Woodstock/Lincoln and Gorham.

  10. #10

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    My hiking club uses the Notch Hostel. Its a great place to stay.

  11. #11

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    Using a one week model, if the OPs get an early flight they optimistically will arrive by noon at the airport. That means they have a few extra hours after driving north for some initial sight seeing If they drive an extra hour to hour and half they can make a loop round the whites to get an idea of the local terrain and the AT trailheads. The lighting is best early morning and near dusk. There still is a local moose population so you may get lucky to see one out on the sides of the road or unlucky and find one crossing the road in front of you. If unfamiliar with the area there is lot to be said to check out the trailheads in advance of an early morning drop off. That leaves 5 days of hiking. As I mentioned many folks not in condition for the whites may not be able to pull off 5 days straight of hiking the AT even if the weather cooperates. Weather patterns tend to be bit unstable earlier in the summer with three day weather patterns. If there is a steady weather pattern in summer its usually a hot one and that can really knock some hikers out.

    The standard bucket list AT day hikes in the whites would have to include the Presidential Traverse from Mt Pierce to Mt Madison. Trail runners routinely do this in one day but most hikers will need to break it up into three days unless they book a hut or pay for an expensive early morning shuttle on the Autoroad or even the Cog railroad. Using either shuttle means starting at the highest elevation and then hiking down to Crawford Notch, Appalachia in Randolph or Pinkham Notch so it cuts it down to two expensive days. The trail runners could be dropped off in the AM and conceivably the day hikers would meet them along the way.

    The other bucket list hike is the Franconia Ridge loop from Lafayette to Haystack on the AT. This is a loop hike up Old Bridal Path from Lafayette Place to Greenleaf Hut to full up on water and snacks then up to Lafayette and then south along the Franconia Ridge to Haystack and down Falling Waters trail and back to where you started. Ambitious folks with car spot can add in the ridge from Haystack down to Liberty for the view and then a quick backtrack to Liberty Springs Trail to the somewhat confusing to find AT parking lot on RT3( its not on the parkway its on RT 3 just north of the Flume parking lot). The stretch from Haystack to Liberty is mostly in the woods but a lot quieter than the the ridgeline north of Haystack which is zoo especially on weekends. Plan on getting to Lafayette Place real early in the morning as the parking spaces fill up. If they are full you have to drive up the parkway a few miles and catch a paid shuttle.

    Another bucket list hike is Mt Moosilaukee. If you have a car spot or set up a shuttle in advance the AT hike from Kinsman Notch to Glencliff is hard to beat. If one car there are two loop hikes from the Dartmouth Outing Club Ravine Lodge that catch either part or all of the above treeline section of the AT over Moosilaukee.

    So hitting the bucket list hikes can burn up five days. The reality is if you are unfamiliar with hiking in Northern New England with its lack of switchbacks and steep ascents over rocks and boulders you most likely will need a day off between major day hikes. This gets you down to three day hikes if you want AT exposure.

    Mt Washington via Ammonusuc Ravine trail from the Cog base station road on the west side of the mountain to the AMC hut Lake of the Clouds (AKA Lake of the Crowds) then a quick detour to MT Monroe and then hike up over Washington then over to Mt Clay before heading down the Jewell trail back to where you started. If you are on the east side of the mountain, Tuckermans Ravine Trail to the summit of Mt Washington then Lions Head trail back to where you started.

    The previously mentioned Franconia Ridge Day hike

    Mt Moosilaukee from the Dartmouth Outing Club Ravine Lodge via Gorge Brook to the summit than down the Carriage Road trail to Snapper trail and back to the lodge. This is the "easiest" of the three and least exposure of the three.

    Then add in an intermediate day for ziplining and a intermediate day for flat water canoeing, flatwater kayaking or tubing in the Campton area and that eats up a week assuming no bad weather days. If you stick with the west side of Mt Washington then the Lincoln/Woodstock area is probably the best compromise if you want to do the big three day hikes. If you want to concentrate on Mt Washington then Conway or Gorham are the best fit.

    The final bit of advice is get a unit with a kitchen, get up early and eat in then commit to getting on the trails early ahead of the crowds. If you wait later in the day, parking becomes a hassle and many major summits will cloud in by noon. Thundershowers can form but they normally wait until later in the afternoon. Early is defined as on the trail by 8 am at the latest and for the Lafayette hike 7:30 AM is getting late. Even on hot days if you get an early start you can usually get the hard hiking early in before it really heats up.

  12. #12
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    Thank you all for the great info! I am sorry I was not specific...

    My hubby and I are in our 50's. The ultra-runner son and wife are 30's. The younger two boys, who are in shape and have A.T. backpacking experience (but are more likely to prefer other things) are in their 20's. Everyone will be interested in some town stuff... or stuff other than hiking/running. My A.T. experience of 1100 miles is between Springer and MA/VT border (large chunk of Virginia missing). I realize mileage will be 1/2 to 1/3 of my normal mileage... and appreciate the input! That is why I thought I would try to knock out a few sections here.. getting older and slower! I do hope to finish the A.T. someday with my sections...

    We are driving two cars in (coming from Michigan), so we planned to use the cars at times to stage each other (meaning the runners/hikers).

    We also plan to only hike/run about three days. In between, we will do other things altogether (appreciate the input on rafting, etc. - not thinking we will do ATV... not something we have done before..).

    Our "week" will be about five to six days. (Probably coming in on a Sunday or Monday and leaving on a Friday).

    As much as I am fine with camping, I think my kids want to stay somewhere with a roof. I am totally open to the Hostel (LOVE Hostels! Community, experience, etc. is awesome!). My boys have experience staying in hostels when we went out west, but I think that would be more expensive than renting a small place... The Hostel mentioned does not have pricing for summer, so I will reach out to them to find out.)

    Again, other ideas are so welcome! The past two years, we have given our kids a "vacay" for Christmas, and it has gone over very well. Unfortunately, our middle son is moving to Germany next year, so this will be our last vacay that we can afford to do for all! Thanks for any more input/ideas!!!
    Last edited by shelb; 12-15-2019 at 19:16.

  13. #13

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    You have a 16 hour (assuming no breaks) drive if you take the short cut through Canada (everyone got passports?) to get to the Whites from Spring Lake. MI. If you go round south, it's got to be well over 20 hours. So, you need to factor in 4 days of travel. If you try to drive through, you'll be useless the next day.


    Are those travel days factored into your 5-6 day week?
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    You have a 16 hour (assuming no breaks) drive if you take the short cut through Canada (everyone got passports?) to get to the Whites from Spring Lake. MI. If you go round south, it's got to be well over 20 hours. So, you need to factor in 4 days of travel. If you try to drive through, you'll be useless the next day. Are those travel days factored into your 5-6 day week?
    Travel is not factored into the 5-6 day week. The 5-6 days will be spent in NH with travel taking extra time on either end (my older son and his wife will probably spend some time in CA enroute to or from). *Yes, we did note the passport need - my youngest needs one. The rest of us are all set and not near expiration!

    Slo-go'en: I think you were the one 10 years ago to suggest Maryland as the place to take my first A.T. hike with my, then, 10 and 12 year old sons! ..............................

  15. #15

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    I took a quick look at Airbnb near Gorham and saw a lot of options for less than $200/night. But it's a touristy area; book soon or the best ones will be gone. Sounds like a great trip. Barklay? Oh my...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    I took a quick look at Airbnb near Gorham and saw a lot of options for less than $200/night. But it's a touristy area; book soon or the best ones will be gone. Sounds like a great trip. Barklay? Oh my...
    What town in or around the Whites isn't touristy? That's our livelihood. I know several of the houses on Main street in Gorham are being converted to Airbnb's. Mixed feelings about that.

    The only real problem with Gorham is the ATV crowd is taking over the town, driving up the price of accommodations. Berlin has no motels and not very many restaurants so even though all the ATV trails are over in Berlin, everyone stays in Gorham.

    But with six people, renting a house for a week makes more sense then two motel rooms.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  17. #17
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    If the non-hikers are going to be looking for other types of activities then booking a Condo for a week in Lincoln probably makes the most sense.

    But if it were me I would be looking to rent a house in Randolph or Jefferson. You will be hard pressed to try to complete the AT as a series of day hikes through the Whites, but there are still plenty of beautiful day hikes to be had.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


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  18. #18

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    Randolph and Jefferson are both located ideally but it will be tough to find a house to rent for a week. There are places to rent but usually not advertised anywhere, mostly word of mouth. Randolph is more of a summer colony then a town. It is undeniably in the middle of the northern white mountains and there is a long section of the AT accessible from town plus a very dense local trail network. The trail network is set up for loop hikes or trail runs. Most of the homes and camps are in use by the owners in the summer, I am not aware of any broker who actively handles or markets rentals. The sum total of businesses in town is a gas station with a small store, an older motel with several rooms and a tourist cabin village. If you want prepared food of any type you need to go to Gorham. Jefferson is very similar although set back a bit from the national forest its does not have a trail network, to get a prepared meal except for pizza and sandwiches you need to drive over to Lancaster or drive through Randolph to Gorham.

    Gorham does have ATV traffic on Main Street and along a section of state highway but the majority of the town is off limits. They support the same tourist businesses that hikers and other visitors would use. There is a selection of restaurants in town. The biggest issue is ATV folks tend to fill up the hotels/motels especially on weekends. Gorham is also a major thru hiker town as its logical spot to take a break before the Mahoosucs. If you spend any time in town you will see thru hikers going about their resupply. The Top Notch Inn is a strip motel but they have a couple of residential homes that they have rehabbed and rent on a weekly basis. https://topnotchinn.com/

    One spot that few think about that might fit your needs is Philbrook Farm Inn in Shelburne NH. http://www.philbrookfarminn.com/ The AT runs through Shelburne. Philbrook Farm has family housekeeping cottages (actually old summer homes set off well away from the Inn) for rent. Shelburne has even less services for tourists (not even a gas station) but Gorham is a short drive. There are some extended families that have been meeting up there for decades. A major detraction to some, a bonus to others is I dont know if the cottages have internet service (there is cell service). These are older cottages, no AC.

    Lincoln/Woodstock on the other hand have a major ski area nearby and there are hundreds of ski condos in town plus full tourist accommodations. My guess is renting a condo for a week is lot easier. It convenient to Mt Moosilaukee and Franconia Notch but a bit of a drive over to Mt Washington and Crawford Notch. It also has ziplining and boat options (but no ATVs). Its also is the closest to the Pemi which is the center of the whites. The infamous Pemi loop is usually picked up just out of town at Lincoln Woods. I expect your trail runners will have this high on their list. The start of the Presi Traverse which may also be on their list is about 1 hour north in Randolph with the end about a half hour away in Crawford Notch.

  19. #19
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    A couple of suggestions for day hikes near Lincoln incorporating some of the AT:

    9.5 mi all on the AT from NH 112 Glencliff to NH 112 Kinsman Notch (No. Woodstock/Lincoln) - climb up and over Mt. Moosilauke, the first above treeline summit in the Whites for a NOBO. If it's wet out this hike is better hiked SOBO as the decent off Moosilauke going NOBO is quite steep and can be described as slippery and intimidating - okay, some call it downright scary.

    9 mi +/- (1.7 on the AT) "Franconia Loop" - I 93 / Layfayette campground - Old Bridle Path to AT SOBO to Falling Waters Trail back to start point - summit Mt Lafayette, Lincoln and Little Haystack. This hike can be extended about 3 miles (12 mi total and making it about 5.5 AT miles total) by staying on the AT and going past the Falling Waters trail. The downside of continuing on is that Falling Waters Trail is much more scenic (waterfalls) than the extended route. The AT (which is the Liberty Springs trail) will return you to I 93 at the Liberty Springs trailhead about 2 miles south of the campground/start point. This lengthens the hike by about 2 miles to the trailhead or 4 miles all the back to the campground. If you hike this "SOBO" (starting on the Old Bridle path) you'll get most of the elevation gain out of the way early. Depending upon the weather and how you're progressing, you can make a choice at this point. From Little Haystack, Falling Waters trail is about 3 miles from the roadway. If you continue on the AT, you're about 5 miles total from the trailhead at the road, 7 miles back to the start point. One caution note - Falling Waters is best hiked uphill (NOBO for this hike) if the the weather is wet. This is one of the most popular hikes in the Whites, so don't expect solitude

    Those are just two possibilities.

    Logging AT miles through the northern Whites / Presidentials is not easily done as day hikes as there are only a couple of roads crossing the AT from Franconia heading north (28 mi to Crawford Notch/Rt 302, then 26 mi to Pinkham Notch/Rt 16, and then 22 mi to Gorham/Rt 2) over difficult terrain. You're typically 3+ miles (+3000 feet or more uphill to the ridge) both up and down on local trails to intersect the AT from any trailhead. That said, you can summit most of peaks the AT passes near or over as day hikes, just don't expect to log many actual AT miles.

    The runners in your group might be interested in the 20+ mile 13 Falls / Owls Head Loop https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/n...owls-head-loop in the Pemi Wilderness near Lincoln, or running the Franconia Loop while you hike it.

    There are so many trails all over the White Mountains area that a good trail map is pretty much a necessity for both planning and hiking.

    Best wishes for a great vacation!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    There are so many trails all over the White Mountains area that a good trail map is pretty much a necessity for both planning and hiking.
    The map I use and recommend is "Exploring New Hampshire's White Mountains" IBN-10 0-9785932-4-3

    Once you get into the area, pretty much every gas station convenient store will have them on the counter. These maps are like a guide book with short descriptions, suggestions, trail mileage, level of difficulty, and book time for the hike. Two sided, cover both the northern and southern sections of the Whites.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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