Basecamp: AMC Highland Lodge
Winter hiking and snowshoeing picks at Crawford Notch
Free guided activities: snowshoeing, skiing, animal tracking & more
Trails less traveled: lodge-to-hut backcountry adventures
"Camp" for adults: winter 50+ Adventure Camps
Spend more time on the slopes: ski and stay with Bretton Woods
Peak experiences: tackling New Hampshire 4,000 footers in winter
- Grab your ice ax and crampons: Crawford Notch ice climbing
Ideal for beginners and well-seasoned outdoor enthusiasts alike, Highland Lodge offers guests the comforts of an all-inclusive, green-friendly lodge—plus the use of L.L. Bean gear and free guided activities. For additional ideas, check out AMC's Winter Guide.
1. Winter hiking and snowshoeing picks at Crawford Notch
From the front door of the Highland Lodge, there are a variety of trailheads within walking distance for beginners to experienced hikers:
Ammonoosuc Lake Loop Trail
An easy hike for snowshoers of all ages is the one-to-two-mile loop trail around Ammonoosuc Lake, which is just a short walk from Highland Lodge. This trail is a good bet for views of Mt. Washington and the southern Presidential Range.
For slightly more elevation gain, climb to the top of Elephant Head, the rock outcropping that makes up the eastern wall of the Gateway to the Notch. This easy snowshoe through the woods starts a short distance from the front door of Highland Lodge and takes you to the top of the rock formation, where you can stand on the elephant’s head and take in a magnificent view of the notch, the Highland Lodge, and the Omni Mount Washington Resort in the distance.
A moderately challenging and enjoyable 3.2-mile round-trip snowshoe excursion starts behind the Crawford Depot at Highland Lodge and continues to the 2,800-foot summit of Mt. Willard. Catch some of the best views in the Whites, including nearby Mt. Webster and Mt. Willey draped in snow.
2. Free guided activities: snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, animal tracking & more
As part of AMC's extensive Outdoor Explorations program, Highland Lodge offers guests free, guided "walk-on" activities that include snowshoe and cross-country ski tours and clinics, GPS orienteering, winter gear talks, and night-time sights and sounds snowshoe outings. Self-guided audio tours of local natural features and AMC's Bradford Washburn photo collection are also available.
Another option, AMC Custom Adventures, complements these free programs by providing more flexibility in choosing an activity, time, and skill level for a White Mountain adventure with a trusted AMC guide. Experiences range from introductory ski and snowshoe clinics to more challenging full-day excursions and overnight trips to AMC Huts.
3. Trails less traveled: lodge-to-hut backcountry adventures
Zealand Falls Hut
For a unique backcountry adventure, plan a self-guided lodge-to-hut snowshoe or cross-country ski tour to AMC's winter huts -- and take advantage of lower self-service winter rates at the huts.
, located in Zealand Notch, sits at 2,700 feet next to beautiful Zealand Falls:
Lonesome Lake Hut
is nestled against the flank of New Hampshire's Cannon Mt. at 2,760 feet and rewards with a spectacular view of the Franconia Range across a frozen mountain lake:
Zealand Road to Zealand Trail
Make the trip to Zealand Falls Hut for a unique backcountry snowshoe or cross-country ski excursion.
Beginners and families should opt for the cross-country ski trail located off of Route 302, just east of Zealand Road, which eventually connects up with Zealand Trail and takes you to the north end of Zealand Notch before reaching Zealand Pond and the AMC Hut a short distance beyond. The trip to the hut is six miles and takes about 3.5 hours. Views include Carrigan Notch, Mt. Anderson, Mt. Lowell, Whitewall, and Vose Spur.
Avalon to AZ Trail
Experienced winter backpackers will enjoy the 18-mile loop through the Willey Range and Zealand Notch, starting and finishing on the Avalon Trail with an overnight at Zealand Falls Hut. This 5.5-mile snowshoe trip typically takes four-plus hours.
Ethan Pond Trail
A 7.3-mile ski tour, the Ethan Pond Trail has some steep patches and requires good navigational skills for unbroken segments of trail. The trip should take approximately five hours, so start early to make it to the hut before dark.
Lonesome Lake Trail
Take the Lonesome Lake Trail for a family-friendly, moderately steep backcountry snowshoe trek that is well traveled and just over 1.5 miles to the hut. It is skiable by intermediate to advanced backcountry skiers with skins.
Kinsman Ridge Trail
More experienced hikers can go up to the Kinsman Ridge Trail for a longer route over steeper, rougher terrain. The next morning, pack up your gear and descend into Franconia Notch.
Basin Cascade to Cascade Brook Trail
This two-hour, 2.5-mile journey to Lonesome Lake Hut makes for a good snowshoe or ski. Lightly used, this trail follows a river and requires significant snow for skiing and can be challenging to navigate if the snow is not packed.
Cascade Brook Trail (Appalachian Trail)
A slightly longer trip than the Basin Cascade to Cascade Brook Trail, this three-mile route has similar terrain and is seldom traveled. The travel time is approximately 2.5 hours.
4. "Camp" for adults: winter Adult Adventure Camps at Highland Lodge
The AMC's Winter Adult Adventure Camps at Highland Lodge bring together outdoor enthusiasts ages 50 and older for a daily mix of easy, moderate, and advanced activities including snowshoe hikes, Nordic ski clinics and tours, winter natural history programs, and winter outdoors skills programs. Also included are daily yoga & stretching, historic and cultural programs, evening pre-dinner social hours, and featured guest speakers.
5. Spend more time on the slopes: ski and stay with Bretton Woods
6. Peak experiences: tackling New Hampshire 4,000 footers in winter
Take advantage of Highland Lodge's cross-country and downhill Ski & Stay packages and experience some of the best skiing and snowboarding in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If cross-country skiing is your pleasure, then hook up with the Bretton Woods Nordic Ski Area, one of the largest in the East. Slip into your skis outside Highland Lodge's backdoor and ski three miles north of Crawford Notch along the Highland connector trail. There are also downhill trails for Alpine skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts.
Webster-Jackson loop trip
Four thousand footer buffs, rejoice! The Highland Lodge also offers at-your-doorstep access to a handful of the highest places in the Whites. One trail for those looking to bag the 4,000-footers in winter is the 6.5-mile Webster-Jackson loop trip, which summits Mt. Jackson and its not quite 4,000-foot neighbor, Mt. Webster. In addition to this classic loop hike, Highland Lodge also offers easy access to 4,000-foot peaks in the Willey Range, including Mt. Tom, Mt. Field, and Mt. Willey.
Mt. Washington via the Crawford Path
For an ambitious trek that requires more winter experience, proper clothing for extreme weather, good outdoor skills, and some technical mountaineering equipment, set your sights on conquering all or part of the 8.5-mile ascent of Mt. Washington via the historic Crawford Path. This trail begins a few steps from the Highland Lodge and skirts around the summits of Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, and Mt. Monroe - offering views of the winter Presidentials and Pemigewasset Wilderness.
7. Grab your ice ax and crampons: Crawford Notch ice climbing
Named for Godfrey N. Frankenstein, a nineteenth-century White Mountain School of Art painter, Frankenstein Cliff is arguably a premier ice-climbing destination in the White Mountains. Frankenstein’s popularity stems from its range of difficulty and appeal to all skill levels. Shorter ledges make it suitable for beginners just learning the basics, and steeper waterfall ice routes offer a challenge for more advanced climbers. So pack up your ice ax and crampons and head out on the Frankenstein Cliff Trail just south of the Willey House site in Crawford Notch State Park. Other ice-climbing destinations in Crawford Notch include the longer routes on Willey Slide off Route 302, which offer excellent views of the Webster Cliffs on the other side of the Notch, Cinema Gully on Mt. Willard, and Mt. Webster.