Looking to experience the majestic Western White Mountain’s fall foliage up close and personal?
Whether you’re looking for a day of exciting river fishing or a laid back day on a mountain pond, the Western White Mountains have got you covered. There are numerous options for both fly-fisherman and traditional fisherman alike. Dust off your flies, lures and rods and head to the Western Whites for some of the best fishing in the East!
Profile Lake is a 13 acre fly-fishing only mountain lake situated at nearly 2,000 feet elevation within Franconia Notch State Park, nestled under the home of the “Old Man of the Mountain”. The Cannon cliffs hang high above the lake, giving it a Rocky Mountain feel just minutes from the highway. Profile Lake can be enjoyed by both wading or non-motorized boats. Take a walk on the Franconia Bike Path from the Cannon parking area to experience the history of Franconia Notch on your way to lake. Want to stretch your legs after a day of fly-fishing? Take the 1 mile Echo Lake loop trail around the lake to experience it from all sides. New Hampshire Fish & Game stocks Profile Lake with trout each year, so start practicing your casts and get out there! The parking area is on the west side of I-93 just past Exit 34B heading southbound.
- Fly-fishing only
- No person shall take brook trout 12-16 inches in length. All brook trout 12-16 inches in length must be released immediately unharmed. The daily limit for brook trout shall be 2 fish, of which only one may be over 16 inches.
Echo Lake is just a short drive or walk away from Profile Lake and offers 38 acres of trout-stocked waters for both fly-fisherman and traditional anglers. The lake is accessible by beach or by boat, which you can rent (canoe, kayak, pedal-boats) at on-site. No personal boats allowed. Reservations are necessary for Echo Lake, which fills up fast with visitors during the summer months. Additional fishing supplies can be purchased at the Lakeside General Store at Echo Lake Beach.
A hidden gem on the West side of White Mountain National Forest, Beaver Pond is easily accessed by following Route 112 over Kinsman Notch from the town of Woodstock. The parking area is located right off 112 and acts as both a viewing area and pond access for those brave enough to enter it’s cool waters. Beaver Pond is stocked with Eastern Brown Trout and can be enjoyed with non-motorized boats or by shore. Note that the wind can pick up at any time at Beaver Pond due to it’s height-of-land location.
Mirror Lake hosts a public beach and small boat launch (non-motorized only) off Mirror Lake Rd. in the town of Woodstock. A favorite spot for locals, the 38 acre lake is stocked with trout by NH Fish & Game. Come early on weekends if you plan to grab a picnic table for lunch – it gets busy!
Stinson Lake is located near the town of Rumney and is best accessible by boat (motorized or non-motorized) as it encompasses 342 acres and has homes built on much of the shoreline. There is a small shore bank for foot access. Various trout can be found here so plan to spend the day!
Perch Pond, found off Perch Pond Road in Campton is idea for a kayaker or canoer looking to test their angling skills or catch a glimpse of numerous wildlife species. There is both shore access and a small boat ramp (non-motorized only). Don’t let the backroads to get here fool you – this spot is literally “jumping” with fish!
Elbow Pond is located off Route 118 west of Woodstock and offers both walk-in and boat (non-motorized) access for great mountain pond fishing. There are also a few dispersed campsites on the side of the pond if you are looking to make this a multi-day visit. Be aware that there is a shooting pit located on the road to access Elbow Pond so it may get noisy from time to time.
Three Ponds (Hiking Access Only)
The Three Ponds area is accessed by the 2.3 mile Three Ponds Trail near the towns of Warren and Ellsworth, and hosts a backcountry shelter onsite, making a backpacking trip an option for visiting these beautiful ponds. Stocked with trout by air, they are only accessible by foot. Upper Three Ponds boasts 11 acres of nearly untouched waters and is well worth the moderate hike in.
A fisherman’s paradise, the Pemigewasset River flows through the Western White Mountains from its headwaters at Profile Lake through Franconia Notch to our small mountain communities before meeting with the Winnepesaukee River to form the Merrimack River. There are numerous pull offs along Route 112 within the towns of Lincoln and Woodstock that offer ample shoreline fishing and non-motorized boat access. Spend a day or a week exploring the beautiful “Pemi”, as locals call it.
The Ammonoosuc River, or “Ammo”, begins at the Lake of the Clouds just below the summit of Mount Washington and flows through Bethlehem, to Littleton, and then southwest to Bath where it meets with the Connecticut River in Woodsville. A less visited area of the Western White Mountains, the Ammonoosuc hosts wild populations of trout along with other species including salmon. There are various pull offs along the river to access it’s waters by shore or by non-motorized boat.
We hope you enjoy your fishing getaway in the Western White Mountains! However, before you go – plan ahead. Below are some must-read resources prior to your visit.
Licenses Online: https://www.nhfishandgame.com/
Licenses In Person (By town): https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/licensing/agents.html
Leave No Trace Ethics: https://www.visitnh.gov/leavenotrace
With a population of just under 600 people, it’s easy to overlook the small mountain town of Sugar Hill as you drive north through Franconia to Littleton up I-93. But, this small town packs a real punch. Sugar Hill may be New Hampshire’s newest town, but its history runs deep in the western White Mountains.
After splitting from the nearby town of Lisbon in 1962, Sugar Hill is New Hampshire’s most recent incorporated town. Named after the large grove of sugar maples in the town, Sugar Hill was a fashionable Victorian resort town attracting artists and wealthy businessmen and their families from New England cities during the 19th century.
While the grand resorts of yesteryear are now gone, Sugar Hill is still a travel destination in itself. With community staples like Harman’s Cheese & Country Store and Polly’s Pancake Parlor, which was named a James Beard Foundation Award American Classic in 2006, and lots of festivals throughout the year, there is a lot to do in this small New Hampshire town.
Polly’s Pancake Parlor
People come over from all over New England to eat Polly’s famous pancakes made from scratch and topped with New Hampshire maple syrup. For over 80 years, Polly’s Pancake Parlor has been serving short stacks of buttermilk, buckwheat, gingerbread, and other flavored pancakes to hungry folks. Everything is made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and the maple syrup is from Fuller’s Maple in Lancaster.
The restaurant is just as unique as the menu. Situated in an 1830-vintage building on the historic Hildex Farm, tables overlook the beautiful countryside of the White Mountains. Polly’s is still operated by the same family. Polly’s granddaughter, Kathie Aldrich Cote and her husband Dennis, have been running the restaurant since 1981.
According to Kathie, last year alone, Polly’s served up about 255,000 pancakes. “And that’s just pancakes and not waffles,” she finished. Unlike other restaurants, customers have access to unlimited maple syrup, pure maple spread, and pure maple granulated sugar, which is made in-house. “Another unique feature is that each server makes all their own customer’s pancakes and waffles,” says Kathie. After getting your sugar fix for the day, make sure you pick up some pancake mixes and maple syrup from the shop.
Harman’s Cheese & Country Store
Who doesn’t love cheese? John and Kate Harman started Harman’s Cheese & Country Store as a mail order business in 1955. In 1981, the Aldrich family took the reins from John & Kate to continue building upon their dream. Named the “World’s Greatest” by many customers, Harman’s cheese is a natural, premium grade, white cheddar made in New York from whole milk. The small country store in Sugar Hill sells over 13 tons of the cheese to people from just down the street to those who live all the way in Saudi Arabia.
While the world-famous cheese might be the main reason you stop by Harman’s, the country store carries hundreds of additional locally made products. From cheese tools to jams and jellies to mustards and pickles, you’ll find unique gifts to remember your vacation in the western White Mountains for weeks to come.
Sugar Hill Lupine Festival
2022 Update: Unfortunately the Sugar Hill Lupine Festival is canceled for 2022.
During June, the population in Sugar Hill more than triples with the influx of visitors trying to catch a glimpse of the colorful lupines that dot the hillsides and gardens in northern New England.
A self-guided tour map can be found here!
2022 Update: Stay tuned
The White Mountains are famous for their colorful leaves and scenic views after a long hot summer. Similar to the Lupine Celebration, the people of Sugar Hill celebrate the change of season with a massive celebration in town. Held annually in late September, the Autumn Celebration is an open air market with over 50 local and regional vendors. Start your Christmas shopping early with lots of art and crafts, locally made food, and handcrafted goodies. Throughout the weekend, there are talks, musical performances, and more.
Next time you’re driving North up I-93, hop off Exit 38 and head into town and discover why Sugar Hill is one of New Hampshire’s best-kept secrets.
Wake up to the sun rising over the mountains and enjoy your morning coffee on your back deck while the birds chirp in the distance and the wildflowers bloom in the mountainside meadows. The sounds, smells, and views certainly beat the concrete jungle! The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and work. Many companies are realizing that employees can work productively at home and are giving up their brick-and-mortar office buildings and transitioning to a fully remote workplace. For hundreds of thousands of workers, that means they can now live wherever they want, like the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, large cities, like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago, have seen an exodus of people moving out of urban areas into more suburban or rural areas. Coupled with low-interest rates for mortgages, the housing market became a frenzy for those who could afford to buy. Jay Polimeno of Polimeno Realty said, “We’ve had a lot of out-of-state buyers who have bought homes sight unseen. Many coming from New England and the Mid-Atlantic region.” From July 2019 through July 2020, the state population grew by 5,500, which may not seem like a lot, but it was the largest population percentage increase in New England. The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire research shows that the population growth is solely due to in-migration as deaths continue to outnumber births in the country’s second-oldest state.
While New Hampshire has seen an influx of new residents, the White Mountains region is widely known as a second home destination. Many families who own second homes in the area live primarily in Boston and other larger cities, but due to remote work and school, many of these families have transitioned to living in their vacation homes full time. The McClures are one of those families.
From Sudbury, Massachusetts, the McClures purchased their vacation home in North Woodstock in 2015 as their future retirement home. “We were up here skiing over the weekend when we realized we didn’t have to go home on Sunday,” says Chris McClure. “My job was remote at this point and they canceled school and then moved it to remote learning. We planned to move up to the mountains full-time when our youngest went to college, but we figured why not make the move now.”
The Western White Mountains are an incredible place to live year-round. There’s a ton of outdoor activities to do year-round, arts and theater, great food and drinks, and lots of friendly locals. There’s also good medical care and school systems, making it the perfect place to raise a young family. “My kids are very happy here. One goes to Waterville Academy and my youngest goes to LinWood. The main reason we decided to move here full-time was that the community embraced us,” says Chris.
The Western White Mountains have a little of everything when it comes to housing in the area. As a ski destination there are tons of condos, so if you’re looking for full-time living without the responsibilities of shoveling and home maintenance then you’ve come to the right place. There are also houses in town and in rural areas. And if you can’t find your dream home, you can always purchase land to build your own.
The region also offers a unique opportunity for those looking for a career change or business opportunity. As one of the oldest states in the country, New Hampshire is home to thousands of small businesses owned by baby boomers who are looking to retire in the coming years. “Our business broker is very busy with the year. We’ve had lots of folks relocating to the area to run businesses. If you’re looking to purchase an established small business, the White Mountains and North Country offer a lot of opportunities,” says Jay Polimeno.
The Carsey School of Public Policy study found that over 40 percent of recent migrants to New Hampshire were between the ages of 30 and 49 and they primarily moved to be closer to family and employment opportunities. One of the main reasons people continue to stay, however, is for the natural environment and quality of life.
“In Massachusetts, our kids had activities every day – music, computer coding, and soccer. When I was a kid, I’d get off the bus and go play. Now that we’re up here full-time, a neighborhood kid will come to knock on the door and ask if my son can come outside and play. That’s one of the unexpected things we’ve learned while living here – kids can be normal and play outside even during a global pandemic,” says Chris.
With good internet connection in the region, kids can still enjoy their computer coding and French classes while playing youth soccer on the weekends, or hiking and skiing some of the best trails in the northeast. If you’ve dreamt of escaping the concrete jungle to work remotely or even run a business in the mountains, look no further than the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Like many New England towns, Lincoln was once a bustling mill town with sawmills, a pulp and paper mill, and the largest logging railroad in New England. Over the decades, the mills closed, and hotels were built around the ski mountain. The economy turned from manufacturing to tourism. But one determined company is working to bring manufacturing back to one of the old mills.
“The idea first started around 2011. I spent much of my childhood enjoying the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont. I like to say it was all ‘ice cream and swimming holes.’ It wasn’t until I came back to the White Mountains as an adult that I realized how tough it can be to live here,” says Burgeon Founder, Rudy Glocker. “I wanted to find a way to give back to the communities that gave me so much.”
In a world of L.L. Bean, Patagonia, and North Face, it might be difficult to break into the outdoor apparel industry but Burgeon is taking a different approach. All of Burgeon’s products are made in their studio in The Village Shops in Lincoln or Merrow Manufacturing in Fall River, Massachusetts. Machine-sewn by local artisans, Burgeon is dedicated to using high-quality materials that will stand up to the elements of the White Mountains and beyond.
“Our products are designed and tested in the White Mountains. Unlike other outdoor apparel companies, we can test our gear right outside our doorstep and modify it in a matter of days,” says Glocker. Glocker and his team, including mountain guide and Burgeon General Manager, Justin Walsh, have tested their gear this past winter, spring, and summer. They also had a little help from Philip Carcia, a well known mountain athlete who recently broke the speed record when he hiked all 48 of New Hampshire 4000 foot mountains every month for a full year. Carcia was able to provide the Burgeon team with valuable feedback on their products in real-time so Burgeon could continue to innovate their products to meet the demands of outdoor enthusiasts.
In a few short weeks, Burgeon will be launching their first three lines of apparel to the world. Each apparel line is named after iconic White Mountain peaks or ridges. The Flume Base Collection is a fast-wicking and comfortable base layer perfect for laying under your ski jacket or wearing around the house for après ski. The Franconia Mid Layer, made of Polartec Power Stretch Pro, adds an extra layer of warmth and flexibility on those below zero days or for peak bagging in the spring or fall months. The Washington Outer Collection combines Polartec Windpro and DWR (durable water repellent) to keep you warm and dry when the weather changes. And we all know how fast the weather can change in the White Mountains!
Burgeon is a brand built on its mission, which is “to preserve and enhance the enjoyment of the outdoors by investing in the people, economy, environment and social fabric of outdoor communities.” Five percent of each Burgeon sale is donated to community and environmental efforts in the White Mountains so generations of people can continue to enjoy the mountains for years to come.
“Burgeon products are New Hampshire made. We have a team of three local artisans who work right in our studio in Lincoln to finish all our products. As we continue to grow, we hope to hire more local community members. Not all our artisans have extensive sewing skills, but we’ve trained them, and they are producing incredible work that we’re proud to sell,” says Justin Walsh. One of the reasons that Glocker chose Lincoln for Burgeon’s headquarters was the strong work ethic and pride that its community members have for the work they do.
While Burgeon will be launching in November with only a few products, they have been working hard on developing additional apparel lines for women and lifestyle products for those who desire less technical merchandise. Product will be available both online and their shop in Lincoln in mid-November — just in time for the holidays!
“Our Lincoln location is just the beginning. I want Burgeon to be a model that can be replicated across mountain towns in the United States and beyond. In 10 years, I hope we have locations in other New Hampshire towns such as North Conway, down the Appalachians, and even the Rockies. We want to be where people go to enjoy the mountains,” says Glocker.
For more information about Burgeon, visit their website or stop by their studio at the Village Shops in Lincoln.
Whether you’ve come to the mountains to climb New Hampshire’s highest peaks or to just rest and relax, you can stretch your tired muscles and escape the daily grind with a little yoga. Recent research suggests that practicing yoga outside has many benefits for your mind, body, and spiritual health. The Western White Mountains are home to many mountaintops for you to find your own personal zen. Margarita of Live a Little Fitness in Lincoln offers a variety of guided outdoor yoga sessions during the warm summer months and can work with you to create your own custom mountaintop yoga experience.
Throughout the summer, you have three different opportunities to practice yoga outside with Live a Little Fitness. Loon Peak Yoga is perfect for anyone who wants to practice their Down Dog with epic mountaintop views. You’ll ride the Loon Mountain Gondola Skyride to the top of the mountain where you’ll take an hour-long yoga class surrounded by panoramic views of the White Mountains. After class, you welcome to explore the summit at your leisure before riding the gondola back down the mountain. If you prefer to get your blood flowing before your Sun Salutations, then the True North Peak Yoga Session might be for you. You’ll take the Gondola Skyride to the summit of Loon Peak and then you’ll hike the quarter mile to the 3,100-foot summit of North Peak where you’ll take a 60-minute yoga class. After you say “Namaste,” you can hike back to Loon Peak and enjoy the 360-degree views from the observation tower. You can either ride the gondola or hike back down the mountain to continue your workout. Consider hiking right into Viaggio Spa, located in the Mountain Club on Loon for a relaxing massage or facial.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate yogi, Yoga in the Woods at the Lost River Gorge is probably the perfect class for you. You’ll start with a short and easy stroll through the woods into the Gorge. Once you’ve passed the giant birds nest and crossed a suspension bridge, you’ll set up your mats by a babbling brook. The class is designed to be a gentle stretch with a little bit of flow to wake up your body and then relax it with some restorative poses.
If you can’t make any outdoor yoga classes, then check out the special events Live a Little Fitness is offering for all ages. Live a Little Fitness offers a dance program with Ballet, Tap, and Hip Hop/Break Dancing classes for kids of all ages. They also offer after-school kid’s yoga classes during the school year. Each class is themed for ultimate fun. Who doesn’t want to take a Star Wars themed yoga class?
During the summer, you can join in on “Recess-style Boot Camp!”. The coaches create fun and challenging workouts that focus on strength, endurance, and agility. Of course, you’ll play plenty of games along the way. Sign up a for class and play Margarita’s favorite “Zombie Apocalypse” game. Who said kids were the only ones allowed to have fun?
When the weather gets cold or the sun goes down, classes return back to the studio. In addition to many yoga classes, Live a Little Fitness also offers Barre and Strong classes. Nikki’s Saturday morning Barre class is one of the most popular places to be in Lincoln on a Saturday! Strong classes are high-intensity interval classes that are designed to get your heart rate up and your muscles pumping. Offered only during the Fall through Spring months, the once a month Yin Yoga Bliss is a great way to relax after a long week. Combining Yin Yoga, massage, and aromatherapy, it’s the perfect class to melt away your stress.
Create your own yoga retreat in the White Mountains by taking a few classes at Live a Little Fitness or just enjoy the incredible panoramic views of the mountains in your warrior pose from atop Loon Peak. Whatever you choose, you’ll leave the Western White Mountains feeling more relaxed and centered.
Marcus Corey grew up on the small ski slopes of Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, Maine. As the son of a part-time pastor, he found God through his love of the outdoors. Fast forward a few years, Marcus and his new wife moved to Jackman, Maine where he was the retreat director at Moose River Outpost, a Christian summer camp on Heald Pond. During the winter months, Marcus and his family enjoyed skiing at nearby Sugarloaf Mountain where he became good friends with the Chaplain.
You know what they say, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” We feel the same way about living and working in the Western White Mountains. If you live where you play, then you’ll never want to leave! Just ask many of our locals who came from afar and never left.