Local Outdoors
Bretton Woods is an outdoors paradise.  It is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest and abuts the spectacular Presidential Range. It has maintained its wilderness character while being highly developed for a wide range of outdoor activities. You can find detailed local information on these activities through the Web and in guidebooks. While in Bretton Woods, good places to get information include:
  • The Adventure Desk at the Mt. Washington Hotel;
  • The Highland Center of the Appalanchian Mountain Club, located 4 miles east on Route 302.
We have tried in this page to give our own perspective as Mt. Washington Place owners of the things that we like to do locally. We hope that you will find this useful! Scroll down or use the menu on the left. For comments or questions please contact author Daniel Jacob.
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Alpine skiing and snowboarding

Bretton Woods is the largest skiing/snowboarding area in New Hampshire and has a great diversity of terrain. Because of its location on the west side of the Presidentials it receives more snow than other areas and the snow stays cold (no ice). The chairlifts are high-speed and lines (if any) are usually short. The terrain park is great, the glades are the best, and some folks also like the wide cruisers. One thing Bretton Woods doesn't have is long steep terrain, though you can find plenty of challenge in the glades. If you want a change of scene you can also go to Cannon Mountain (20 min west), Attitash (30 min east), or Wildcat (45 min east). These mountains have longer steeps than Bretton Woods but nowhere near the diversity of terrain.
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Cross-country skiing

Bretton Woods has one of the largest X-C skiing centers in the Northeast. The reliable snow and the Fabyan Plain (stretching from the Mt. Washington Hotel to the Presidential Range) combine for an extraordinary experience. Expect a wide variety of terrain and spectacular views.

Back-country skiing in the National Forest is also excellent. A favorite trail is from the Zealand parking lot to Zealand Falls. You can stay overnight at Zealand Hut.
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Hiking

The hiking in Bretton Woods is phenomenal. The area is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest with breathtaking mountain scenery. There are literally hundreds of trails for hikers of all levels and inclinations. Bretton Woods is the location in the US (and maybe the world) with the highest density of trails within a 45-minute drive. Go to the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch (4 miles east of Bretton Woods) for detailed information, trail maps, guidebooks, etc. See our Mt. Washington Place Hiking Page for a listing and short descriptions of our favorite local trails as well as hiking advice.
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Fishing

Fish for brook and rainbow trout on the Ammonoosuc River, which runs along Mt. Washington Place. The river is stocked a few times a year. You will need a NH fishing license, which you can get at Foster's Crossroads in Twin Mountain. You can also get your bait there along with all your fishing gear. Irving station in Bretton Woods also sells bait.
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Canoeing and Kayaking

The Pemigewasset river has reliable Class II-III rapids until July and after heavy rains; the classic trip from North Woodstock to Blair bridge takes about 4 hours. The Androscoggin river has dam-controlled Class II rapids throughout the summer. There is also excellent flatwater kayaking/canoeing with beautiful scenery throughout the summer on the Saco river. A number of outfitters provide equipment and/or shuttling services.
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Swimming

The Ammonoosuc River has local swimming holes. Lower Falls (off Cherry Mountain Rd) is very popular. Middle Falls has a number of quiet pools with large flat ledges, great for little kids - drive up Base Rd. and look for pull-out spots. Drive a little further to Upper Falls,  famous for jumping off the rocks. There's a town pond in Twin Mountain up Lake Rd. with a beach and dock - not particularly picturesque, but good enough for the kids and for laps (5-minute drive); Echo Lake in Franconia Notch has developed beach facilities on its north side. Or hike up to Lonesome Lake (1 h) from Lafayette campground; there is a dock in front of Lonesome Lake Hut for a wonderful swim with views of Franconia Ridge. A great plan for a hot summer day is to hike up to Kinsman Pond, take a swim, and then hike down to Lonesome Lake for another swim. 
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Biking

There is a large network of signed mountain bike trails in the Fabyan plain behind the hotel (the X-Country skiing trails in winter are converted to bike trails in summer). You can also take your bike up the Bretton Woods skilift (which operates in summer) and bike down along signed trails with jumping elements, etc. There are several other nice bike trips that can be started from your front door:
  • Up Base Rd. to its end at Cog Railway Station. Base Rd. is amazingly laid out in such a manner that you see a different peak of the Presidential Range at every turn. The station has a historical museum and is worth a visit.
  • Up Base Rd. to R on Mt. Clinton Rd to R on 302 and back to Bretton Woods. Mt. Clinton Rd. is a nice winding path through the woods, paved all the way.
  • Up Cherry Mtn. Rd. to Jefferson, R. on rte 2, R. on Valley Rd. and back to Bretton Woods through Jefferson Notch road. This is a grueling trek that takes you over two mountain passes on dirt roads.
  • Around the Presidentials Range (90 miles). Routes 302-16-2-115-3. Obvious from a map as there are no other roads! This is the quintessential road bike trip in the White Mountains. Grueling. Tour de France quality. A favorite of triathloners.

Also see our Bretton Woods biking trips photo album!

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Golf

On August 1, 2008, the Mount Washington Resort reopened the 18-hole Mt. Washington course – a Brian Silva renovation of the original Donald Ross design.  Since its reopening, feedback from golfers has been incredibly positive. In addition to the 18-hole course, golfers can choose to play the beautiful, but challenging 9-hole Mount Pleasant course.   Both courses offer spectacular views of Mt. Washington and the rest of the presidential range, Crawford Notch and of course, the Mount Washington Hotel. So, regardless of your level of play, a day of golf at the Mount Washington Resort will challenge and inspire you. Also visit our Golf at Bretton Woods photo album!
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Tennis

Mt. Washington Place has its own fine tennis court, and if you're looking for partners please contact our tennis club! There are also four clay courts behind the Mt. Washington Hotel.
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Wildlife watching
There is plenty of wildlife around Bretton Woods and in fact right on the Mt. Washington Place grounds. A walk around the grounds (or just hanging out on your deck) can reward you with sights of bears, moose, foxes, turkeys, woodchucks, and smaller critters. Around sunrise and sunset are the best times, and the animals can be anywhere - just keep your eyes open and your camera ready. See our MWP wildlife photo album.

You can feed the birds on your deck from Oct 15 to April 15 - the seasonal ban is to avoid feeding the bears. Common winter birds are chickadees, juncos, blue jays, grackles. grosbeaks, and woodpeckers. In the summer you can feed the hummingbirds. See the MWP Essentials page for more information on MWP wildlife.
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