The White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire is just a short drive from Bethel, and part of the WMNF is actually located in Maine, less than 5 miles from Bethel. The Forest features hiking trails, scenic drives, campgrounds, picnic areas, and overlooks that provide many options to get outdoors.

Mount Washington, the highest mountain in the northeast, is less than an hour’s drive to the west of Bethel.

Closer to Bethel are the Crocker Pond and Evans Notch regions in what is sometimes called “the quiet corner of the White Mountain National Forest.” Here you will find peaceful places to camp, hike, explore, and reflect while enjoying a summer day in the forest, on a summit, or on the shore of a pond or brook.

Here’s an overview of some attractions near Bethel. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain or drop by the Androscoggin Ranger District, 300 Glen Rd. Gorham, N.H. 03581 or call (603) 466-2713.

Scenic Drives

Maine Route 113 is a State Scenic Byway winding through dense forest canopy leading up to the overlook at Evans Notch. Along the way are campgrounds, trailheads, the historic Brickett Place Wilderness Information Center, Wild River, and the Basin Pond Recreation Area.

Day Hikes

Travel just a few miles south on Route 5 or west on Route 2 to reach trails closest to Bethel. Trails vary in difficulty and there’s something for everyone: easy family hikes to scenic ponds and beaver dams, moderate hikes to small peaks, and for the heartier hikers more rugged terrain climbing to sub-alpine vistas. Trail maps and guides are a must to stay on course and come back safely – pick yours up along with hiking recommendations at the Androscoggin Ranger Station.

Campgrounds

The five campgrounds in the Evans Notch region offer quiet, wooded campsites, well water, garbage collection, and toilets. Call (877) 444-6777 (TTY (877) 833-6777) or visit www.recreation.gov.

On the water

Crocker Pond, Broken Bridge Pond, and Patte Marsh have small landings that require a short carry from the parking area. Flat-water boating is a great way to get a glimpse of wildlife and birds — after all, you are visiting their home and they just may be there when you are.

Wildlife

Really lucky visitors may get to see a moose swim across a pond – it does happen! – but more common is the sight of a moose wading along a shore, dunking its head to reach a tasty morsel. Stop by any of the ponds or streams in the national forest to look for moose and species of all sorts.

Migrating song birds stop by and offer vocal performances for anyone out and about on an early summer morning, while birds of prey are ever-present over the ponds, streams, and clearings.

Remember that all wild animals – even the seemingly nonchalant moose – are dangerous when approached by humans. Always maintain a safe and respectful distance.

Biking

The National Forest offers a variety of terrain for mountain bikers. Riding is allowed on all forest roads and trails except for trails within designated Wilderness, the Appalachian Trail, or roads and trails that are posted closed to bicycles.

Recreation Pass

Wherever you go in the White Mountain National Forest, don’t forget your recreation pass. Many high-use trailheads and day-use areas in the National Forest require a pass. Annual and weekly passes can be purchased locally at the Androscoggin Ranger District. There are also single day self-service pay stations at many trailheads.

Photo: WMNF

 

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