For the past 10 years the end of August for us has meant summer winding down, prepping for school, soccer tournaments, and getting back into a much needed routine. This year everything has been turned upside down, but lets look at the bright side, we may never have this chance to enjoy the end of summer with our kids in the same way, relaxed and unscheduled. So let’s enjoy it!
With summer vacation extended a few weeks there is still time to squeeze in a few more adventures. We’ve been taking summer trips to the White Mountains in New Hampshire since before the kids were born. In past years we camped at Glen Ellis Campground https://www.glenellisjellystone.com, spent lazy days on the Saco River, drove up Mt Washington, visited Story Land https://www.storylandnh.com/, and so much more. This year we tagged along with my sister and her family who rented a home in Intervale, NH. It was the perfect size for our two families and put us in the middle of all the activities we had planned.
With my kids now 14 and almost 12 and my nieces 10 and 8, they have outgrown Story Land and we were ready to try new things this year. I’m going to share with you our itinerary and would highly recommend heading up to NH and adding some of these things to your bucket list. The White Mountains truly has something for everyone.
Day 1: Echo Lake and Cathedral Ledge
We started out our trip with a hike up Cathedral Ledge which we accessed from Echo Lake State Park. Just FYI, I recommend you book a parking pass in advance on the website https://www.nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/echo-lakes-state-park. From the parking lot we hiked up the yellow trail that lead us to Cathedral Ledge. There were definitely some challanging and steep sections of the trail, but the views are worth it, and the swim in the lake at the end of our hike was a great reward.
Day 2: ATV Rentals- Off Roading
Our next day brought us up to Gorham, NH about a 30 minute drive from our rental house. Renting ATV’s was a bit more expensive, but if you can splurge I think it was well worth it. You need to wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and bring eye protection (sunglasses or safety glasses), we also packed a cooler with snacks and water and attached it to the back of the ATV with a bungee cord. We listened to a short video, picked out a helmet, grabbed our maps and were Kim lead into the trails by a guide who dropped us off that the entrance to the trails for us to go explore. After talking with friends who had done this before we chose to do a 3 hour trip which I felt was the perfect amount of time. Get ready to get dirty! We honestly had a blast! It was exciting, we covered a lot of ground, and had some fantastic views. From here we headed home and went for a swim in association pool of the rental house. https://northeastsnowmobile.com/reservations/
Day 3: Downhill mountain biking at Cranmore
It’s not a summer vacation without mountain biking with my brother-in-law James. If you are into mountain biking you can follow him on youtube and instagram, JC Trails.
This year we decided to try downhill mountain biking at Cranmore Bike Park. Basically it takes a lot of the work out of mountain biking because you ride up the mountain on a ski lift that also takes your bike up. This is definitely something to check out if you are into mountain biking and have kids that love adventure. We brought our own bikes and helmets but they also rent bikes and gear at the park as well. You can take a lesson which I would recommend if you are not confident on a mountain bike. We purchased a 3 hour pass and I felt that was the perfect. For me personally it was a bit scary at first and we did have a scare when Alli went over the handlebars. Thankfully she was ok, minus scaring the hell out of her and me and leaving her with some scraps and completely covered in dust. We got a lot of runs in and I feel like it was a good way to get lots of practice with more technical skills of downhill mountain biking. You can check it out at https://www.cranmore.com/Summer-Parks/Attractions-Rates/NEW-Cranmore-Bike-Park utm_source=FiveFifty&utm_medium=Search&utm_campaign=Summer20&gclid=Cj0KCQjws536BRDTARIsANeUZ5_lPL8ZHiUGYrNCT1fqPUPl9LfU1PKFATtTkC_3tqtSYVc9_M6pw4QaAomJEALw_wcB
Day 4: Saco River Tubing
If mountain biking is a bit extreme for you and you’re looking for a more low key relaxing adventure, tubing down the Saco River is a perfect alternative. By day 4 it was exactly what we needed. Unless you are with people who know exatly where to enter and exit the river I would highly recommend going with a tubing center. There are many to choose from such as https://sacorivertubing.com With Covid-19 many people have opted for outdoor activities making it hard to book anything last minute, so do your homework. If you are planning on going I would make early reservations or purchase your own tubes before you go up. Originally we had planned to rent tubes from a local company but unfortunately everything was booked solid. Thankfully we had enough tubes and borrowed 2 blow up kayaks from a friend. Packing light is essential but make sure you have enough food and drinks for however long you plan on tubing and definitely wear water shoes. Chances are you will be walking at least a little bit in places where the river is shallow. We had a great day on the river despite some rain leaving the kiddos a bit cold for part of the trip, so check the weather before you go. Grabbing pizzas at the end of the day was clutch because we were definitely exhausted.
Day 5 : Mountain Biking an Shopping
Day 5 was our last day but we couldn’t leave without one last adventure. We headed to the Marshall Conservation Area to hit a couple more mountain bike trails. We took the Lucille trail up and took T-bone around. I would definitely recommend taking Shumway trail down which was a super flowy fun trail. You can check out the trail map here.
We packed up the bikes and headed over to Settlers Green Outlets to get in a little back to school shopping before hitting the road. New sneakers- check! https://www.settlersgreen.com
This trip was some of the most jam pack 5 days filled with all sorts of crazy adventures mentioned above and some down time at some local swimming holes and sitting by the firepit at night. The White Mountains never disappoint. A big shout out to my sister and brother-in-law, Melissa and James, for including us on this trip! We still have a few weeks left of summer and I need some ideas. Where are your go to spots within driving distance to Boston? What should I add to the bucket list?
Hope you’re all having some great adventures this summer. Thanks for reading.