May 1, 2021 to January 2, 2022: Open Daily
With access to an extensive trail network, guests can hike to the southern Presidential peaks, rock climb nearby Elephant Head, ice climb at Frankenstein Cliffs, or play in Arethusa or Ripley Falls with family and friends in tow. Winter offers the opportunity to cross-country ski or downhill ski at Bretton Woods. Follow historic footsteps as you climb to the summit of nearby Mount Willard for one of the most legendary views in the White Mountains.
Following our full buffet breakfast, adventure out for a day in the White Mountains, returning to the lodge for a hearty, home-cooked dinner, and settle in for a lively conversation by the fireplace, or a quiet evening in your private room. In addition to the included meal service, the Highland Center also offers complimentary activities, including guided day hikes to nearby scenic destinations, instructional talks on outdoor skills or natural history, and in-depth evening programs featuring films and guest speakers presenting on topics from astronomy to winter hiking. Guests should call ahead for the daily schedule during their stay.
Highland Center guests have free use of the L.L.Bean Gear Room, where they can borrow everything from boots and packs to layers and snowshoes. The retail store offers books, maps, AMC apparel, gear, USFS parking passes, and last-minute items, and the friendly staff are always available to assist with weather, trail conditions, and other information.
The Macomber Family Information Center, open during the summer and fall, is located in the historic Crawford Depot, a former train station renovated by the AMC, and houses interpretive displays, an information desk, and a small gift shop that stocks last-minute hiker supplies, guidebooks, and souvenir items. Staff and volunteers provide information services and offer periodic talks on Crawford Notch in coordination with an excursion train that runs on the rail line during the tourist season.
The Highland Center also houses the official AMC Library and Archives, with thousands of documents, maps, photographs, and other items dating back as far as the organization’s founding in 1876.
Dinner and breakfast are included in most room packages. Breakfast is served buffet-style from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Lunch is available from our deli with sandwiches, soups & salads from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served promptly at 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
AMC’s Hiker Shuttle connects the Highland Center, Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, and the towns of Lincoln and Gorham with major trails to the huts, allowing hikers to start and end their trip at different points. The stop in the town of Lincoln is coordinated with Concord Coach bus service. Hiker Shuttle runs daily for most of the full-service hut season, from early June to mid-September. The shuttle operates on weekends only from mid-September to mid-October. Reservations are strongly recommended.
The lodge and Shapleigh Bunkhouse are wheelchair-accessible, including all meeting rooms, the dining hall, and some guest rooms with and without private baths.
Ammonoosuc Lake and Red Bench Trail (Easy): The trailhead is behind (north of) the Highland Center, just to the left of the storage sheds. A beautiful, mostly level, walk around the lake and view of the Presidential Range. The Red Bench Spur at the opposite side of the lake adds another 0.6 miles and offers a view of Mount Washington on a clear day. Estimated time 30 minutes around lake, additional hour to Red Bench.
Ripley Falls (Easy): This 1-mile out-and-back hike brings you to the second-largest waterfall in New Hampshire and a great viewpoint in all seasons. The trail begins at the end of a short forest road 1 mile south of the Willey House Historic Site. From the parking area, cross the railroad tracks and follow the Ethan Pond Trail for approximately 0.1 mile. At that point the Ripley Falls Trail will diverge to the left and continue the remaining 0.4 mile to the falls. Retrace your steps to return to your car.
Arethusa Falls (Moderate): Arethusa Falls is New Hampshire’s tallest waterfall at 176 feet. The falls are a spectacular sight in any season, with opportunity to watch to ice climbers going up the frozen falls in winter. The trailhead is located just north of the southern boundary to Crawford Notch State Park on route 302. This trail follows relatively easy grades (totaling 938 feet of elevation gain over 3 miles) while running along Bemis Brook. Additional cascades can be seen by following the short Bemis Brook Trail as well. The Bemis Brook Trail splits off of the Arethusa Falls Trail near the trailhead and reconnects to the main trail 0.4 mile later. Estimated hike time is 3 hours.
Mount Willard (Moderate): Mount Willard offers spectacular views of the glacially-carved Crawford Notch for relatively little effort, clocking 3.2 miles round trip with 900 feet elevation gain. The trail begins across the railroad tracks from the Crawford Depot. After 0.1 mile, the trail will diverge. The Mount Willard Trail follows yellow blazes to the left. After a couple of shallow stream crossings, the trail begins its moderate ascent. At 0.5 mile, Centennial Pool will be on the right. From there, the trail turns left and eventually meets up with an old carriage road that will continue to the summit. Return the way you came. Estimated hike time is 2 to 3 hours round trip.
Mount Tom, Field, and Willey (Strenuous): A choose-your-adventure route to tag one, two, or all three 4,000-footers in the Willey Range. You can access Mount Tom or Field starting at the Crawford Depot, taking the Avalon Trail—at 1.3 miles, the trail splits. To the right is the A-Z trail, which will take you to the summit of Mount Tom, while to the right the Avalon Trail continues to the summit of Mount Field. The Willey Range Trail connects the two summits for a lollypop loop if you want to tag both summits, or for an added challenge, try a full traverse of the Willey Range by starting at the Ethan Pond Trail, 1.6 miles from the Willey House station, and follow that to the summit of Mount Willey and Mount Field to the A-Z Trail, Mount Tom, and back to the Crawford Depot. Check with AMC staff for more information on mileage, estimated times, and terrain.
The right clothing and gear are essential in the unpredictable weather of the Northeast’s mountains. Even if it feels like summer in the valleys, it can be cold and winter-like on the high peaks. Be prepared for severe weather regardless of season, dress in layers (including synthetic or wool base and insulating layers, and a windproof/waterproof outer shell), eat high energy foods, and stay hydrated.
Our Commitment to Sustainable Operations
AMC has a long-standing commitment to using its huts, lodges, and sporting camps as models for sustainable operations and environmental stewardship. At Highland Center we compost food scraps, use a wood boiler for heat and hot water with locally sourced, sustainable firewood, have a solar panel for some electricity needs, use composting toilets in Thayer Hall, and use light fixtures that minimize light pollution.