Navigator: The White Mountains
For adventurers needing a cleanup before hitting the après-mountain scene, the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center‘s coin-operated showers are tidy and very welcome on a hot day. Rte. 16, Gorham, 603-466-2721, outdoors.org.
Though hardly haute cuisine, some of the area’s best eats are in Jackson. Inside a 200-year-old farmhouse, the Thompson House Eatery serves fresh takes on Italian staples such as shrimp scampi and New England seafood. 193 Main St., Jackson, 603-383-9341, thompsonhouseeatery.com.
Midway between Mount Washington and North Conway, Jackson isn’t only the region’s most scenic town, it’s also the most convenient. The majority of The Inn at Thorn Hill‘s cozy antique-laden rooms come with Jacuzzis and fireplaces. Bonus: an on-site spa. Doubles from $169, 40 Thorn Hill Rd., Jackson, 603-383-4242, innatthornhill.com.
A scoop of ice cream from Lickety Splitz is easily justifiable. Featuring dozens of homemade flavors such as mint–chocolate chip and black raspberry, it’s a great last stop. 2252 White Mountain Hwy., Conway, 603-356-0790.
Don’t explore without this region’s hiking bible, the AMC White Mountain Guide. Inside are detailed descriptions of 500 different paths. $24.95, amcstore.outdoors.org.
Gung-ho trekkers can string together a series of walks by overnighting at the Appalachian Mountain Club‘s eight huts, each a day’s hike from the next. There’s no privacy (you’ll sleep in a coed bunkroom), but there is running water, and the AMC staff provides bedding and family-style meals. From $84, 603-466-2727, outdoors.org/lodging/huts/index.cfm.
A one-day intermediate hike, the Glen Boulder Trail is a rocky scramble through dense woods leading to an exposed mountain face. Watch weather patterns swirl over Mount Washington. Trailhead at Glen Ellis Falls lot, Rte. 16, Gorham (about 0.7 miles south of Pinkham Notch Visitor Center).
Hiking not your game? The Great Glen Trails outdoor center has plenty of other options, such as biking, Nordic walking, and bird watching, plus a 30-foot indoor climbing wall. Rte. 16, Pinkham Notch, Gorham, 603-466-2333, greatglentrails.com.