Up here in the mountains of New Hampshire, we experience a few quiet times of year. These, we feel, are well-earned after the bustling months of summer and fall, when our streets and attractions are brimming with visitors from around the world, and the adventure of a cold, snowy winter, when outdoor enthusiasts make the trek up Interstate 93 to visit our alpine ski areas and snowmobiling trails.
The first quiet time experienced in a calendar year is known as “Mud Season,” those weeks in April and May when the snows melt back, the spring rains fall, and the waterfalls flow free. The extra water seeps into the thawing ground, giving the landscape the titular mud describing the season.
The second quiet time is between fall foliage and the upward swing of the winter ski season. The weeks of November and the beginning of December are some of the calmest and most wildly beautiful, when the rare visitor can experience the peace and wonder of the outdoors almost entirely alone, the bite of approaching winter in the air.
Attractions and amenities are still available in the pre-winter Quiet Season in the White Mountains, though not at the same level as they are other times of the year. For couples, families, and single visitors desiring the opportunity to explore the region without fighting against lines and crowds, vacationing here during the Quiet Season is a good option.
Here are some ideas of activities to check out during your trip to the White Mountains this November or early December:
Ride the Trails on an ATV Tour with Outback Kayak
Consider scheduling a guided ATV trip with Outback Kayak. Kids ages 5-12 years are invited to ride along as passengers, while those ages 13 and up can drive their own rented machine.
Tours are one- to two-hours and travel over 80 acres of trails throughout the Pemigewasset Valley and along the Pemigewasset River. This is a unique and high-adrenaline way to experience the backcountry of the White Mountains.
The cash outlay for rentals and a tour is not inexpensive- but, particularly in the shoulder season, well worth the cost, as you and your family will be among the few and the brave clamoring for this adventure.
Hike and Relax at Lonesome Lake on Cannon Mountain
The hike to Lonesome Lake and back is 2.1 miles with approximately 1,050 feet of elevation gain, and generally rated a moderate-to-difficult trek. This is a good choice for athletic folks and can even be a good option to introduce children to more difficult hiking. The incline is mostly gradual, with no bouldering or steep drops to contend with.
The trail leads up to and loops around a beautiful mountain lake where the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut is located. The Hut is a nice place to stop for a breath and enjoy the views of the lake amidst the White Mountains, although amenities for passersby are few.
To get to Lonesome Lake Trail:
- Take Lafayette Place Campground Exit off I-93 (between Exit 34A and Exit 34B)
- If parking lot is full, you may have to park along the highway and hike into the campground
- The trailhead is located on one end of the parking lot.
The AMC Lonesome Lake Hut is open in November and December as part of the “Self-Service” Season. A caretaker is onsite from 4-10 PM and 7-10 AM. Each guest is provided a bunk with pillow and use of the facility’s kitchen and cookware. Washrooms with camp toilets are available; electricity is not.
Consider spending an afternoon at the AMC Lonesome Lake Hut. It’s a beautiful spot to disconnect from the pressures of everyday life and reconnect with nature and your loved ones.
Ride the Rails on the Conway Scenic Railroad
The Conway Scenic Railroad is another unique way to experience the natural wonders of the White Mountains. Ride an old-fashioned passenger train from North Conway, NH, crossing the Saco and Swift Rivers on your way to Conway, NH and back.
Trains depart on Saturdays and Sundays throughout November and December at 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM. Rides are 55-minutes round-trip. The cost is $17.50 for adults, $12.50 for children ages 4-12 years, and free for kids 3 and under.
Chug Halfway Up Mount Washington on the Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway runs on the weekends in the pre-winter Quiet Season, so even though the Auto Road is closed, visitors can still make their way up Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the Northeast at 6,288 feet. (Adventurous souls can always hike it, of course.)
November weekend trains depart at 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM, and they ascend half-way up the mountain before returning to station. The trip is approximately one hour. The cost is $39 for adults, $29 for children ages 4-12 years, and free for kids 3 and under.
Celebrate the Holiday Season at Santa’s Village
Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH reopens on the weekends from November 18 to December 17. This holiday-themed family-friendly amusement park is a great option for those with young’uns (or those young at heart) especially in the weeks leading up to the Christmas season.
Dress warmly and prepare to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, marvel at half a million Christmas lights, enjoy a 3-D show called “A Tinkerdoodle Christmas,” and ride up to 18 different amusement rides, including the Chimney Drop, SS Peppermint Twist, and Christmas Ferris Wheel.
Admission is $32 per person, and free for kids 3 and under.
Indulge your Sweet Tooth at Chutters Candy Counter
Visit the store in Lincoln, NH or make the 25-minute drive north to Littleton to visit the world’s longest candy counter, a staple of Main Street, Littleton. Chutters Candy Counter is an old-fashioned candy store, with over 500 kinds of candy, including truffles, chocolate confections, jelly beans, gummy bears and sugar candies of all sizes, shapes and flavors.
If your trip lines up, consider making a day of it on Friday, November 24 to enjoy the 31st Annual Littleton Holiday Parade. The parade begins at noon, starting at Hitchiner’s and making its way down Main Street. Kick off the holiday season with the restaurants and businesses of Littleton, and meet the big guy himself, Old Saint Nick!
Update your Winter Gear at Lincoln NH Outdoor Retailers
As winter approaches, outdoor enthusiasts may want to take a look at new gear arrivals. Lincoln, NH is host to Rodgers Ski & Sport, a family-owned retail store of winter apparel, equipment and rentals, as well as a series of Lahout’s family-owned ski and snowboard shops along Main Street, Lincoln.
Prepare for the 2017-18 ski season by checking out the newest arrivals on the winter gear floor!
For more ideas, come visit our friendly concierge at RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain. Hiking, dining, adventure, shopping- there are plenty of things to do in the White Mountains during the Quiet Season!