1 | Sustainable Recreation on the White Mountain National Forest

Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences

Sustainable Recreation on the White Mountain National Forest

To celebrate the 2018 WMNF centennial and uphold the stewardship commitment to restore and protect these lands for the next 100 years, the NFF has planned activities and projects leading up to this important milestone through the “Honoring the White Mountain Forest Legacy” initiative.

Hosting millions of annual visitors and providing the base for Northern New Hampshire’s tourism economy, the White Mountain National Forest has earned its special place in the National Forest System. Hikers from near and far come to explore more than 1,200 miles of trails, including 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail and 48 peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation.

New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest has a long and storied history of community involvement. In 1918, these groups saw their efforts bear fruit when the federal government created White Mountain National Forest. Now, this treasured public landscape covers 800,000 acres and offers some of the best recreation opportunities in New England, while protecting critical watersheds and providing important wildlife habitat.

As population and visitation has increased, there is added pressure on the Forest to provide clean water and recreation from a healthy forest landscape. Over time, human activities on the watershed and severe weather events from climate change have compromised the health of the Forest and lessened forest resiliency.

The National Forest Foundation works to increase community stewardship, implement forest/water health and sustainable recreation projects, and ensure that the White Mountain National Forest can continue to draw visitors and provide important ecological and economic resources for the region.

The first Treasured Landscapes projects on this well-known forest were the repair and reopening of iconic trail networks after Tropical Storm Irene, including Greeley Ponds, Flume Brook, and 9-Mile Brook. NFF also worked with the Forest Service to replace bridges that provided critical access to Tuckerman Ravine, the birthplace of backcountry skiing.

Uniting with local partners allows us to accomplish common goals, create long-lasting partnerships, and build on the rich legacy of local stewardship on this beloved landscape. The NFF is proud that our efforts make a positive impact on communities and forest resources. are focusing our efforts on creating increased opportunities and capacity for hands-on stewardship to provide sustainable recreation and continue to enhance the world-renowned White Mountain outdoor experience.

Recent Collaborative Projects

Crawford Path

In 2019, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Crawford Path, an 8.5-mile-long hiking trail from Crawford Notch to Mount Washington, NFF and the Forest Service, with major support from partners like REI, completed improvements to bridges, rock cairns, rock steps, water bars, and more. Crawford Path is considered the United States' oldest continuously maintained hiking trail.

Read more about NFF's work restoring and maintaining the Crawford Path.

Glen Ellis Falls Scenic Area

During the pandemic, NFF’s mission to promote the health and public enjoyment of the national forests became increasingly more important. In 2020, the organization collaborated with the Forest Service with key support from Rossi Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, and others to renovate the Glen Ellis Falls Scenic Area. Located in Pinkham Notch, Glen Ellis Falls represents one of the most popular recreation sites on the WMNF. This site was originally built in the Civilian Conservation Corp era and had not seen investment in the last 60 years. The project addressed accessibility and added an additional trail to a scenic overlook.

Cathedral Ledge

During the pandemic, NFF also enhanced stewardship efforts at Cathedral Ledge, an iconic destination for climbers, hikers, and mountain bikers in the Mount Washington Valley. This conservation project restored climber access trails at the Thin Air face, including the construction of stone steps, retaining walls, and belay platforms. With major support from REI, this work utilized a collaborative approach, including staff from White Mountain Trail Collective, The Access Fund, trail crews from several partner organizations, and volunteers.

Read more about NFF's partnership with REI.


Sarah Stanley, New England Program Manager, at [email protected]