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The Appalachian Mountain Club purchased a little over 500 acres of land covering Mount Cardigan's eastern face in New Hampshire in 1934. The intent was to create a ski resort or destination to fund their other activities under the guidance of two renowned ski-trail designers Duke Dmitri von Leuchtenberg and Charles Proctor. The Civilian Conservation Corps, which was established by President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, blazed several miles of trails that would be used for both hiking and cross-country skiing (also known as Nordic skiing). Although this notion of making Mount Cardigan a premier ski destination never came to fruition, many outdoor adventurers enjoy exploring the woods of Cardigan Mountain State Park.
The closest large town is Lebanon, NH, which has a range of shopping and dining options, and also a small hospital equipped to handle many health emergencies. Lebanon was established in the mid-1700s and has several homes and buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Encompassing over 5,600 acres, the hiking trails meander and weave through the woods of Cardigan Mountain State Park. Tall northern hardwood trees mixed with sugar maple, American beech, and yellow birch trees tower overhead. Underfoot, the trails are cushioned by decades of leaves turned into mulch. Hewn logs stacked into stairs abet ascents toward the towering Mount Cardigan, which is topped by great granite boulders. Hikers who successfully summit Mount Cardigan are rewarded with sweeping views of Mount Monadnock, White Mountains, and to the west, Camel’s Hump in Vermont, and to the east, Pleasant Mountain in Maine. Other trails descend deep into the valley, crossing babbling brooks and rivers via log bridges. Altogether, there are nearly 50 miles of trails.
When snow arrives, the fun doesn’t stop. Several miles of these trails are open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Nearby Wellington State Park boasts the largest lakeside beach, which borders Newfound Lake in New Hampshire. Reputed to be one of the clearest lakes in the state, Newfound Lake is especially popular for boating and fishing. Anglers can expect to catch lake and rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass.
Fancy becoming a spelunker? Polar Caves Park outside Rumney, NH, is one of the few cave systems at which explorers may embark on their own self-guided tours (most cave parks require a guide to escort all visitors). There are nine boulder caves for adventurers to navigate. Note that some tunnels are quite narrow and require fitness to navigate.
Skip the long drive from a dinky motel and rent a camper. Wake up surrounded by nature and enjoy the sight of celestial bodies in the crisp, clear night sky. While there is no RV camping at Cardigan Mountain State Park, there are several options in the area. Near Canaan, NH is Crescent Campground at which campers can choose from full or partial hookups at their lakefront sites. Crescent Campground also hosts several family-friendly activities throughout the summer.
Alternatively, Mascoma Lake Campground in Lebanon, NH, may also be a good option to consider. Mascoma Lake Campground bills itself as a family-friendly campground and has fun planned activities throughout the summer season. The RV sites are terraced, so everyone has a view of Mascoma Lake to enjoy.
RV camp in Rumney, NH, at Mountain Pines Campground. Although Mountain Pines Campground seems old-fashioned at a glance, it has several modern amenities like hot showers and free wifi. It’s also extremely close to hiking trails, a lazy river ideal for tubing and fishing, and rock climbing crags. However, note that this facility operates on a cash-only basis.
New Hampshire teems with history and charm, and the small mountain towns are no exception. There are several historic covered bridges in the area, including the picturesque Squam River Covered Bridge in Ashland. What makes it unique is it was constructed fairly recently: in 1990. The area residents wanted to honor their state’s heritage and voted to construct a bridge using time-honored architecture.
Many towns operate historical societies and museums that honor their heritage and culture. In Enfield, NH is Enfield Shaker Museum, which is the site of a historic shaker community farm. Generations of three families lived on this farm continuously for nearly two hundred years. The original shaker buildings have been restored and can be toured. The on-site museum has on display various furniture, tools, artifacts, and other items used by these families over the generations.
At the end of a long day of hiking and exploring, retreat into a motorhome rental and enjoy listening to the sounds of nature as the sun dips beyond the horizon. Search for an RV in Grafton County, NH, and enjoy an amazing camping adventure in New Hampshire.