With iconic New England mountain towns such as Bar Harbor and Stowe competing for your attention, travelers often overlook North Conway. Nestled in the shadows of Mount Washington in central New Hampshire, this picturesque town boasts some of the best rock and ice climbing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and overall outdoor recreation in the northeast.
Visitors will find no shortage of hiking trails throughout the Mount Washington Valley. Located just outside of the North Conway Village, Mount Kearsarge is a 6.2-mile out-and-back trail that rewards hikers with 360-degree views of the Presidential and surrounding ranges from the top of an old fire tower. An easier and fairly popular option is Willard, which yields a great view of Crawford Notch for minimal effort. The die-hard hiker may want to tackle one of the higher summits, such as Mount Jefferson or Adams. Be sure to check the weather and trail conditions before heading out, regardless of season, as weather can be very unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. Snowshoes and micro-spikes may be necessary for winter hikes, and can be rented at International Mountain Equipment.
North Conway has an endless amount of rock and ice climbing areas for the first-timer, advanced, and anywhere in between. International Mountain Climbing School, located on the main strip in town, offers guided trips and classes year-round. A guided winter ascent of Washington is a great chance to experience the alpine zone during the winter.
Even though the Mount Washington Valley hasn’t yet made it onto the national map for its mountain biking, there is no shortage of single-track trails in the area. The White Mountain chapter of the Northeast Mountain-biking Association (WMNEMBA) is currently working on expanding the local trail network. Head up to Attitash to ride some challenging lift-access downhill terrain, or rent an all-mountain bike from the Red Jersey Cyclery and head up the Red Tail trail, complete with a newly machine-built jump line.
The White Mountain Hotel and Resort sits just below the picturesque and iconic rock climbing destination, White Horse Ledge. Choose from eighty different rooms and suites, many with views of White Horse and the surrounding mountains. One can find both locals and visitors in the Ledges Restaurant and Tullamore Tavern, sampling the fine cuisine. Only minutes from the North Conway Village and surrounding hiking destinations, this hotel and resort is conveniently located for anyone visiting the Mount Washington Valley, regardless of what is on their itinerary.
Eats and Drinks
Before heading out for the day, be sure to stop in to the Frontside Grind for the best coffee drinks in town. After a long day of adventuring, grab a brisket sandwich and local beer at the Moat Smokehouse and Brewery, or some sushi at Delaney’s. The Red Parka Pub is a great place to experience a bit of live music and North Conway nightlife on a Saturday night.
Stick around for a Monday night at the Red Parka Pub. The Parka hosts an open mic night every Monday evening, and it is a great opportunity to meet locals. Additionally, weekdays in The Valley are much less crowded, especially during the summer and the first few weeks of October.
How to Get There
Getting to North Conway from New York City is relatively easy via public transit. One must first get to Boston, so consult our public transportation guide. From Boston, Concord Coach Lines offers a bus to the center of North Conway from South Station. Once in North Conway, Fast Taxi will take you anywhere in the Mount Washington Valley area.
For more New Hampshire vacation ideas, head to visitinh.gov
Photo credits: heipei, the author and White Mountain Hotel