New Hampshire’s hidden beauty spots are known to but a few, those lucky enough to spend their days amidst her glorious landscape. We asked several Granite State outdoorspeople — including fishing guides, trail developers, and folks at the Appalachian Mountain Club and The Nature Conservancy — to share theirs. Here are some of their top recommendations, places sure to renew the spirit and remind you why it’s so great to live in New England. --Diane Bair and Pamela Wright/Globe correspondents Next
The Ramparts at Carter Notch
Nancy Ritger, naturalist and AMC guide, AMC Huts and Cardigan Lodge program manager
“The ramparts are a jumble of rocks created by the grand forces of nature and surrounded by Wildcat and Carter Dome, towering 1,000 feet above,” Ritger says. “It is a remote, peaceful spot that reminds me of the power of the mountain-building processes and, in this case, the power of freeze/thaw and rock slides. It makes human presence seem inconsequential.” Her favorite time to be at the ramparts is early morning, as the sun comes over the ridge. While all seasons are beautiful there, Ritger loves the soft green of summertime, “with the added appeal of a quick, cold dip in the lake.”
Marti Mayne, PR manager, Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce
Supposedly named after the Roman goddess of nature, Diana’s Baths is a series of small waterfalls along Lucy Brook. It isn’t hard to imagine a goddess frolicking here, or fairies at play in tiny grottoes. “During the summer, the baths are a great place to enjoy the tranquillity of nature, and explore the rock ledges, cascading falls, and pools,” Mayne says. The easy hike to the baths is less than a mile. “On a clear, full moon night, the moon will light the way for the walk into the [75-foot high] falls,” Mayne says. “Many people like to do a little skinny-dipping by moonlight, because the location makes for a particularly private place to go au naturel. On a hot summer evening, sit in the rocky pools and let the water cascade over your shoulders — it’s a lovely way to cool off.”
Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge
Phil Brown, director of land management, New Hampshire Audubon
“Pondicherry is the wetland counterpart to the [adjacent] White Mountain National Forest in terms of beauty, wildness, and accessibility,” Brown says. “It is relatively pristine, offers bountiful recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities, and it is picturesque beyond the imagination.” The refuge offers trails that are suitable for adventurous types and the weekend walker as well, encompassing about 6,000 acres of protected land between the White Mountains and the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire’s North Country.
“From my first visit, I was captivated by the diversity of wildlife and the natural communities, especially the boreal forests, and the northern feel of the place. I’ll never forget how an aggressive pair of Northern goshawks dive-bombed me — the unsuspecting hiker — because I unknowingly ventured too close to their nest location,” Brown recalls. This is a place where nature rules.
Nate Shedd, visitor services supervisor, AMC Pinkham Notch visitors center
“More popular ravines like Tuckerman and Huntington get all the attention and visitation, but King Ravine rivals its southerly sisters in both beauty and majesty,” Shedd says. “With its massive boulder field and the soaring ramparts of Mount Adams and the Durand Ridge, King Ravine immediately asserts its sense of scale and size.
“I was first attracted to King Ravine by its reputation for steep and challenging trails,” Shedd recalls, but he has come to appreciate its subtle beauty, things like the blur of a pine marten dashing through the stillness of the fir trees. “Ultimately, what I have come to admire most about King Ravine is its sense of remoteness and isolation. Despite being close to the Appalachian Trail and many of the more popular peaks of the Presidential Range, there is no doubt that when you are standing on the floor of the ravine, you are in a very wild and beautiful place.”
Black Cap, Green Hills Preserve
Laurie Gabriel, trustee, the New Hampshire Chapter of The Nature Conservancy
“There may be no better value-for-the-effort hike in the valley than Black Cap,” Gabriel says. “It offers a panoramic view from Cathedral Ledge to Mount Washington, which is breathtaking in every season.” Black Cap, along with Middle and Peaked mountains, is protected as part of the Nature Conservancy’s Green Hills Preserve. “Although the hills provide a lovely backdrop for the town, most people don’t realize that there are miles and miles of trails to explore, just steps away from North Conway Village. I love hiking here with my family and friends, as do my dogs, Lily and Maggie.”
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