Shoeing at Crawford Notch

For a quintessential New England winter outing, none could be better than a snowshoe trek up Mount Willard in northern New Hampshire for an unobstructed view of the steep ravines and sheer bluffs of Crawford Notch and the white peaks of the Presidential Range.

The well-marked Mount Willard Trail climbs 1.6 miles to the rocky ledges at the 2,850-foot summit. The ascent is not an easy one, but there are visual rewards all along the way. 

Winter Trails Vermont and New Hampshire"On a winter's day the views through Crawford's Notch from the ledges of Mount Willard are unsurpassed," writes guidebook author Marty Basch in Winter Trails of Vermont & New Hampshire. "The eagle's eye panorama takes up the whole sky. In the distance Mount Chocorua's cone rises. A snake appears to be slithering along the valley floor, but that is no reptile. It's Route 302." 

Snowshoe rentals are available at the Crawford Notch Hostel, operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club which maintains the trail. The trailhead is just a hundred yards away near the old Crawford Notch Depot. 

Much of the trail is sheltered by the overhanging boughs of evergreens and birches before opening up the broad vistas near the summit. Pack a lunch for a mid-morning trek and dine on Mount Willard's ledges before returning along the same route. 

For a special adventure, plan your outing for a full moon night and hope the skies are clear. Moonlight snowshoeing on this route is awesome.

Young Woman Snowshoeing Through the Forest on a Snowy Winter Day
Young Woman Snowshoeing Through the Forest on a Snowy Winter Day

Crawford Notch State Park
Crawford Notch State Park

How To Get To Crawford Notch 
(excerpted from Winter Trails in Vermont and New Hampshire by Marty Basch). 

From I-93 take exit 35, Route 3, north to Twin Mountain; then Route 302 east to Crawford Notch. From Glen, take Route 302 west to Crawford Notch. Park by the Crawford Notch Hostel. 

Food and Facilities: Snowshoe rentals, rest rooms, and water are available at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Crawford Notch Hostel, Route 302, Crawford Notch. Bring food and water on the trail. After the snowshoe our try Fabyan's (603-278-2222) near Bretton Woods or the Red Parka Pub (603-383-4344) in  Glen. 

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