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 10 of their top recommendations, places sure to renew the spirit and remind you why it’s so great to live in New England.
PONDICHERRY WILDLIFE REFUGE, JEFFERSON AND WHITEFIELD
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. www.nhaudubon.org
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.” www.outdoors.org
MOUNT HIGHT, WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST
“The White Mountains offer countless views and vistas, but one of my favorites is the view from Mount Hight in the Carter Range,” Shedd says. “Like most of the Carter Range, the peak flirts with the treeline, mingling alpine wildflowers and lichen with the more familiar elements of the boreal forest.” Shedd recommends this hike to folks who wish to discover some lesser-known areas of the White Mountain National Forest. “The view from the summit will often inspire hikers to visit the more remote sections of the forest, like the Wild River Valley and Evans Notch,” he says. “You can really get a sense of the scale of the wilderness and the vast opportunities that exist for exploration.” Mount Hight won’t get you a check mark on your 4,000-footer list (it is too close to Carter Dome to be considered a separate peak), but “it will reward you with beguiling beauty and a distinct sense of place.” www.outdoors.org
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.” www.outdoors.org
Bill Downey, owner, Portsmouth Kayak Adventures
“One of our favorite spots [to paddle to] in the Little Harbor area of Portsmouth is Frost Point,” Downey says. “Frost Point is actually the backside of Odiorne State Park in Rye. It’s a gentle expanse of sandy beach that overlooks the Gulf of Maine on one side and beautiful Little Harbor on the other.Continued...