The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) is a forest contained within the White Mountains in the northeastern United States. It is located in northern New Hampshire, with a small part (about 6%) extending into southwestern Maine. The 750,000+ acres of the National Forest are located within 58 Maine and New Hampshire towns. The White Mountain National Forest is within a day's drive of over 70 million people. Public land is scarce in the largely private setting of the east. The White Mountain National Forest comprises the largest publicly owned block in the six New England states. The forest is very visible, beautiful, and in proximity to major metropolitan areas. Its 1,200 miles (1,900 km) of hiking trails, 23 campgrounds, and the presence of a large number of ski areas within or near its boundaries, makes the WMNF is one of the most visited national sites (including national parks) in the United States. With over six million visitors a year, the WMNF draws more visitors than any U.S. national park except for the Great Smoky Mountains. The mountains of New Hampshire and western Maine are also a destination for international visitors, with nearly 2 million visitors from Canada, Europe and Japan. Scientists from Denmark, Russia, Kasitikan, Brazil and Quebec have visited the forest in the past few years.
|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 vertical drop of the mountains makes them an impressive sight, with the valley floors at about 500 ft. above sea level and 48 major peaks over 4,000 feet high. The Presidential Range includes the highest peak in the northeast US, Mt. Washington, at 6288 ft. Over 100 miles (160 km) of the Appalachian Trail traverses the White Mountain National Forest.
The road through WMNF's Crawford Notch traces its history to stagecoach days and even earlier. Native Americans had trails through this region and hunted in the forests and fished the plentiful rivers. The White Mountain School of Artists, painting in the late 1800's, brought romantic landscape images of the White Mountains to the masses, and tourism brought expansion to this region more than 100 year ago. The early "Crawford Road" was upgraded as part of its inclusion into the New Hampshire State Highway System. In the early 1900's the scenic mountain road was known as NH Route 18, today it called US Route 302. Today the winding road is part of the White Mountain Trail, a National Scenic Byway. One visit here and you will understand why... the mountain cliffs, clear streams, trees and rock formations are most impressive, and the seasonal beauty of spring wildflowers, summer wildlife, autumn foliage, and winter sparkle is spectacular.
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