I'm driving north on Route 16 through the lush, green White Mountains. The radio is playing melodic country as I pass bright red barns and outdoor antique shops. I'm in New Hampshire to explore this region's best adventure offerings.

New Hampshire isn't yet recognized on the world stage as an adventure utopia, which means crowd-free waterways and hiking trails all to myself. However, this state shouldn't be underestimated—from serious mountain climbs to tranquil walks in the woods, there is something within a close proximity to fit every type of explorer.

Don't believe me? Keep reading.

Getting there

New Hampshire is only a three-hour drive from Montreal and a one-hour drive from Boston. Air Canada flies direct from Vancouver to Boston.


1. Tackle the White Water

photoELC Outdoors

Several outfitters such as ELC Outdoors offer white-water rafting and kayaking excursions. Ranging from Class II to Class IV rapids, the rivers in New Hampshire are as diverse as they are beautiful. For a special treat, request a duckie: an inflatable kayak that allows you to tackle the white-water solo.


2. Hike the White Mountains

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

White Mountain National Forest was established in 1918. National Forests differ from National parks: they focus on providing clean water sources, conserving wildlife habitats and protecting forest resources for future generations. There is no entrance fee and commercial enterprises, including logging, and recreational activities, such as hunting and fishing, are allowed.

The White Mountains boast 1,200 miles of hiking trails, 400 miles of snowmobile trails, 23 developed campgrounds and six ski touring areas to explore. Thru-hikers can camp for free anywhere in the Forest 200 ft from the nearest trail and where signs don’t prohibit it.


3. Cycle the Great Glen Trails

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Cross-country running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and cycling are popular activities on the Great Glen Trails. Rent equipment at the on-site gear shop and loop through the trails, which offer scenic views of the Presidential Mountains. There are wide, flat paths and single-track to explore.

4. Experience the Mt. Washington Auto Road

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Bike, run, hike, take a train or drive to the summit of Mount Washington. It’s a popular trek and often underestimated; if you're planning to climb, ensure you're prepared with the proper gear and training.

On the highest peak in the American Northeast, you’ll find the Tip-Top House, a historic lodge built in 1853; a steam train station, a panoramic viewing platform and the weather station that recorded a windspeed of 231 mph in 1934. Although the mountain is typically shrouded in cloud, on clear days with low humidity you can see into Maine, Vermont, the Atlantic Ocean and all the way to the Canadian border. The best time to visit is in September and October, when the leafy hills below are alight in burgundy, gold and purple hues.


5. Fly on a Zip-line


Alpine Adventures in Lincoln takes small groups on exciting zip-lining tours. There are three zip-lining courses ranging in height and difficulty. Start by taking the repurposed military truck up the mountain on a 4x4 adventure. Then, fly through the trees at approximately 40 mph. You’ll be delighted by a surprise zip-line at the end.


6. Explore Pinkham Notch

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Stop in at Pinkham Notch to talk to an AMC guide about trails in the area. Short hikes include Square Ledge, an uphill climb that offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains from a bald cliff-face, and Lost Pond Trail, which leads to a tranquil body of water.


7. Take a Wildlife Tour


Find beavers, black bears, moose, loons and osprey on a 3-hour Lake Umbagog Wildlife Tour or embark on a Moose Safari.


8. Chase Waterfalls

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Jackson Falls, Crystal Cascade and Glen Ellis Falls are some of the more beautiful, accessible waterfalls in the area. Park at the Glen Ellis parking lot and walk 20 minutes down stone stairs, pausing at two viewing platforms, to get the full experience of 64-ft-high Glen Ellis Falls (pictured).


9. Get high on a Rope Course


Adventure parks such as the Aerial Forest Adventure Park in Lincoln and Bretton Woods Canopy Tours are a challenging, fun and rewarding way to get outside and explore. Designed for nature lovers and thrill-seekers, these courses combine zip-lines, sky bridges, tree-top platforms and tightrope walks. This family friendly activity is best enjoyed by children over 12 years old.


10. Try Fat Biking


Fat bikes have become staples for exploring in the sand and snow. The oversized tires allow for better traction over difficult terrain. The Mt Washington Valley Ski Touring and Snowshoe Center allows fat bikes on the trail network.


11. Go Canoeing


Is there anything more relaxing than paddling on a pristine waterway surrounded by unique flora and fauna? Lake Umbagog, the Androscoggin River and the Saco River are fantastic places to canoe in the state.


12. Sign your kids up for Adventure Camp


Kiss your kids goodbye and send them to summer camp in the White Mountains. ELC Outdoors hosts overnight canoe camps in Lake Umbagaog Wildlife Refuge. Although it’s only five days, the outdoor skills, friends and memories they make will last a lifetime.


13. Sleep within the mountains

 photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

For a convenient place to lay your head, Green Granite Inn is a family friendly country-decor hotel in North Conway. Here, you’ll find an indoor pool, hot tub, cozy reading room and complimentary buffet breakfast so you can get up and go explore the White Mountains.


14. Spend a night Glamping

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Want to camp, but don’t want to bring all your gear? Head to Huttopia. These canvas tents feature lake views and include fire pits and picnic tables. Sleep glamping-style on a bunkbed with mattress and real sheets, dive into the heated pool or play one of the many group games on site: baseball, volleyball, basketball and more. Don’t forget to order crepes for breakfast and pizza for dinner at the on-site trailer restaurant. The ambiance is so welcoming, you'll never want to leave.


15. Relax at Christmas Farm Inn

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

While visiting the White Mountains, you must treat yourself to a night at Christmas Farm Inn and Spa. This historic farm has been transformed into a spacious inn comprised of original buildings that date back to the 1700s. Splurge on one of twelve deluxe suites in the Carriage House for a jet-powered jacuzzi, balcony view and living room with fireplace. Dine in the cozy pub and roast s’mores at the communal fire afterwards.



Have you explored New Hampshire?

What's your favourite adventure activity?

Comment below!