By Sandi Barrett, Contributing Writer
REGION – Before the first dusting of snow covers the gardens of Central Massachusetts, the White Mountains of New Hampshire may already have been covered in a brilliantly white deep blanket of snow.
Your base camp
A winter escape to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Highland Center (www.outdoors.org/destinations/new-hampshire/highland-center) is a cozy home base to enjoy mountain trails, brilliant blue skies, brisk outings, and warm fires. When you live in New England during the long winter season, it is important to chase away cabin fever. A short trip to Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s year-round Highland Center lodge is a wonderful spot from the dreary daily grind.
The Highland Center is a perfectly perched base camp for your winter escapades. Winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill, snowboarding, snowmobiling, the list of outdoor activities is extensive. As a guest at the Highland Center, you can borrow L.L. Bean gear from the storeroom. Snowshoes, warm jackets, waterproof outerwear, and other necessities are free to use.
Don’t want to go outside? No worries. You never have to leave the lodge. The fire in the great room will keep you toasty. Sink into one of the cozy seats to read the book you’ve been wanting to finish, play a rousing game of checkers, or engage in a thoughtful conversation with your traveling companions.
A variety of accommodation options are available to suit a getaway for two or a room for a busy group of six. Rooms include private baths and dining served up with a rustic mountain ambiance.
Breakfast and dinner are included in your stay and lunch items are available for purchase. The kitchen staff is adept at feeding hungry outdoor explorers and the meals are hearty and delicious. The clean, bright, and cheerful dining room has window views open to the fields and frame the white-capped mountains crisp against the bright blue sky.
The knowledgeable staff, volunteers, and fellow outdoor adventure seekers are a wealth of information about trail conditions, weather, gear, and safety. You don’t need to be an extremely intrepid hiker to venture out from the lodge, but you do need to be cold-weather prepared.
Other AMC New Hampshire lodges open year-round include the Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch and Cardigan Lodge in Alexandria. Check the lodges’ respective websites for reservations and unexpected seasonal closures.
Winter hiking instruction
You can take a weekend Outdoor Winter Hiking Course at the Highland Lodge. (https://activities.outdoors.org/search/index.cfm/action/details/id/141800) It runs Friday, December 1, 2023, 5:30 p.m. to Sunday, December 3, 2023, 3:00 p.m. The course is a mix of classroom and on-trail sessions covering hiking safety, map reading, how to pack, basics of traction and trekking poles, and more. No excuses—snowshoes and crampons are available to borrow from the L.L. Bean Gear storeroom.
The AMC New Hampshire Club (https://amcnh.org/) offers a Winter Hiking Series for beginner and seasoned winter hikers. The training works to provide day hiking safety in the White Mountains. The four-hike series runs from November through January covering gear, clothing, nutrition, and winter hiking techniques. Grab your crampons and learn how to hike safely in snow and ice.
A getaway to New Hampshire’s White Mountains is a wonderful way to enjoy Mother Nature’s beautiful gifts. More than a summertime adventure destination, enjoying the outdoors can be fun any season of the year. With proper gear and training, you will love exploring the trails around the AMC Highland Center during the winter months.
Outdoor adventure seekers should consider the AMC’s Adventure Travel Worldwide program. (www.outdoors.org/adventures/adventure-travel). With international destinations like Patagonia, Nepal, Costa Rica, and Madagascar along with domestic trips including the Sawtooth Mountains, Arches National Park, and Saguaro National Park, you will find an exciting adventure just waiting for you.