White Mountain National Forest

Coordinates: 44°06′N 71°24′W / 44.1°N 71.4°W / 44.1; -71.4
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White Mountain National Forest
The Sandwich Range in White Mountain National Forest
LocationNew Hampshire / Maine, United States
Nearest cityBerlin
Coordinates44°06′N 71°24′W / 44.1°N 71.4°W / 44.1; -71.4
Area750,852 acres (3,038.59 km2)[1]
EstablishedMay 16, 1918[2]
Governing bodyU.S. Forest Service

The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) is a federally managed forest contained within the White Mountains in the northeastern United States. It was established in 1918 as a result of the Weeks Act of 1911;[3] federal acquisition of land had already begun in 1914.[4] It has a total area of 750,852 acres (303,859 ha) (1,225 sq mi).[1] Most of the WMNF is in New Hampshire; a small part (about 5.65% of the forest) is in the neighboring state of Maine.[5] Conservationist and community activist Katherine Sleeper Walden was instrumental in securing at-risk land for the forest, including thousands of acres in the region surrounding the locally famous Bowl near Wonalancet.[6]

While often casually referred to as a park, this is a national forest, used not only for hiking, camping, and skiing but for logging and other limited commercial purposes. The WMNF is the only national forest located in either New Hampshire or Maine, and is the most eastern national forest in the United States. Most of the major peaks over 4,000 feet high in New Hampshire are located in the national forest. Over 100 miles (160 km) of the Appalachian Trail traverses the White Mountain National Forest. In descending order of land area the forest lies in parts of Grafton, Coos, and Carroll counties in New Hampshire, and Oxford County in Maine.

The Forest Supervisor's office is located in Campton and there are three ranger districts: the Pemigewasset District, with offices in Campton; the Androscoggin District, based in Gorham; and the Saco District, based in Conway. Furthermore, there are several visitor centers, including those located at Lincoln, Campton (off Interstate 93), and Lincoln Woods (on the Kancamagus Highway).

The White Mountain National Forest consists of three discontinuous areas, separated by two highways: I-93 and US 2. I-93 travels along Franconia Notch (a narrow north–south valley primarily within a state park), and west of the freeway includes Cannon Mountain, Kinsman Mountain and Mount Moosilauke (though the majority of Moosilauke is privately owned). East of I-93 is the largest section of the Forest, including the Presidential Range and many other ranges - most notably, the Franconia, Twin, Bond, Sandwich, Willey, and Carter-Moriah ranges. North of U.S. Route 2 is the smallest section of the National Forest, covering the Pilot Range and Mount Cabot. Additionally, several other U.S. and NH State highways cross the forest, including US 3, US 302, NH 16 (White Mountain Highway), NH 112 (Kancamagus Highway), and NH 118 (Sawyer Highway).

It is home to wildlife species including bald eagle, raccoon, beaver, white-tailed deer, moose, black bear, coyote, peregrine falcon, Canadian lynx, river otter, bobcat, gray and red foxes, fisher, mink and porcupine.

Six designated Federal Wilderness Areas exist within the Forest: the 27,380-acre (11,080 ha) Presidential Range/Dry River Wilderness, the 5,552-acre (2,247 ha) Great Gulf Wilderness, the 45,000-acre (18,000 ha) Pemigewasset Wilderness, the 35,800-acre (14,500 ha) Sandwich Range Wilderness, the 12,000-acre (4,900 ha) Caribou/Speckled Mountain Wilderness, and the 23,700-acre (9,600 ha) Wild River Wilderness. These areas are protected from logging and commercial industries and are used solely for recreational and scientific purposes. They were formed under the Federal Wilderness Protection Act of 1984, and its amendments. The New England Wilderness Protection Act of 2006 increased the Sandwich Range Wilderness to its present size and created the Wild River Wilderness area.

Because of its beauty, its proximity to major metropolitan areas, its 1,200 miles (1,900 km) of hiking trails, 23 campgrounds, and the presence of many ski areas within or near its boundaries, the WMNF is one of the most visited outdoor recreation sites east of the Mississippi.[7] Winter season lengths are projected to decline across the WMNF due to the effects of global warming, however, which is likely to continue the historic contraction and consolidation of the ski industry and threaten individual ski businesses and communities that rely on ski tourism.[8]


US Forest Service signs on hiking trails at tree line state that the mountain summit areas have "the worst weather in America".[9] The claim is also used by the observatory[10] near the summit of Mount Washington which once recorded a surface wind speed of 231 miles per hour (372 km/h).[11] Since 1849 at least 169 people have died on Mount Washington and the Presidential Range.[12]

Image gallery[edit]

Panorama showing Mt. Liberty, Mt. Flume, parts of the Pemigewasset Wilderness, and parts of Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountains

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Land Areas of the National Forest System" (PDF). U.S. Forest Service. January 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ "The National Forests of the United States" (PDF). ForestHistory.org. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Chronology of National Forests Established Under the Weeks Act". The Forest History Society. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "History of the White Mountain". White Mountain National Forest. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "Table 6 - NFS Acreage by State, Congressional District and County". U.S. Forest Service. 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
  6. ^ "The Legacy: Early Land Protection Efforts". Tamworth Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2024-01-09.
  7. ^ "Socio-Economic Assessment, Chapter 1" (PDF). White Mountain National Forest. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  8. ^ "Climate Change Vulnerability of the Northeast US Winter Tourism Sector" (PDF). University of Ottawa Department of Geography and Institute of Science. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Alpine Zone sign
  10. ^ PDF observatory
  11. ^ 231mph etc
  12. ^ Steiner, Christopher (6 April 2009). "Quiet Monster". Forbes. Retrieved 12 February 2015.

External links[edit]

White Mountain National Forest travel guide from Wikivoyage Media related to White Mountain National Forest at Wikimedia Commons