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Camping in the Whites

  • Crawford Notch Depot Crawford Notch Rd. Carroll, NH (map)

Swainson's Thrush (top) and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher...two of the true denizens of the White Mountains
Photographs by Len Medlock

Time to gain some altitude! The White Mountains make for some of the most spectacular landscape in all of New England--but the views are only the beginning. They are also home to a huge variety of bird and animal life, some of which is not to be found anywhere else in New Hampshire. It's only fitting that the Harriers' first overnight camping trip takes place in this much-revered region of our state. While this event incorporates a number of activities, you need not participate in all of them. Read over what we have planned, and take your pick!

We'll begin our outing on Thursday morning by hiking within the beautiful Crawford Notch. We'll meet at the Crawford Notch Depot, on Rte. 302, at 9:30 a.m. Depending on the makeup (and the ambition!) of our group, we will either take a fairly moderate hike up Mt. Willard (2800 ft., 4 total miles) or head south to the Nancy Pond Trail (3100 ft., 8.6 miles). Both provide stunning views of the valley and ample birding opportunities: the White Mountains are home to boreal birds that we can find breeding in few other places in the state, such as Swainson's Thrush, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Blackpoll Warbler, and Black-backed Woodpecker. The old-growth forest habitat of the Nancy Pond Trail is home to the American Three-toed Woodpecker, perhaps the rarest of the birds in the region. 

After a day of exploring and hiking, we'll make our way to Crawford Notch State Park and the Dry River Campground. We'll pitch our tents (the fee is $25 per site), cook up some grub, and talk over the day's adventures over a roasted marshmallow or two. Toilets and showers are available here, as well as drinking water. Please pack all the necessaries for a good night's rest, including tent, sleeping bag, food, cooking utensils, and so forth.

On Friday we'll break camp and make our way over to Cannon Mountain, where we'll catch the 9:00 a.m. departure of the aerial tramway. (Cost for a lift ticket is $13 for kids 12 and under; $16 for those 13 and up.) A cable car will whisk us up this 4,080 ft. peak, from which the songs of the Bicknell's Thrush will float up to us as we take a hike around the summit. The Bicknell's has a limited breeding range, and nearly a third of all Bicknell's Thrushes summer in New Hampshire, making it one of the state's most sought-after birds. Bear sightings are possible on the open ski slopes of Cannon, as well as plenty of unusual plants, flowers, and butterflies native only to these high elevations. This is not a trip to miss! Meet at the tramway office, just off I-93 (exit 34B), at 8:30 a.m. We'll plan to descend again around 12:30, but those who wish to stay and explore further (or to hike down under their own power!) are welcome to.

Please Note: We'd love to have you join us for any part of our planned itinerary. If you can only come for a Tuesday hike, or our Wednesday trip up Cannon Mtn., that's excellent!  And if you're not campers, the region has plenty of other lodging opportunities. Arranging to meet up with the group is easy: in the days leading up to the trip, just write to Whatever your plans, R.S.V.P. by email (above) or phone, (603) 525-3572.

Earlier Event: July 11
Whip-poor-wills Under the Buck Moon
Later Event: July 22
Across the Border: A Trip to VINS