Blog: Exploring the White Mountain National Forest: A Journey with the Granite State Ambassadors

Our recent tour of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) was an enriching experience, offering our Granite State Ambassador (GSA) volunteers a deeper understanding of the diverse attractions and operations within this breathtaking region. Here’s a recap of our journey, accompanied by reflections from participants who joined us.

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Tour Highlights

1. WMNF Headquarters, Campton:

We began our tour at the WMNF Headquarters just off Exit 27 of I-93, where we were warmly welcomed by Renee Plourde, Visitor Information Services Supervisor. Derek Ibarguen, WMN Forest Supervisor, and Stacey Lemieux, Natural Resources Staff Officer, provided insights into leadership, resource management, and the logistics involved in maintaining the forest. The initial presentations were not only informative but also highlighted the commitment and passion of the staff towards preserving this natural treasure.

2. Campton Day Use Area: Our drive to the Campton Day Use Area on Route 49 showcased the rich wildlife of the region. The lush greenery, serene environment and trail system offered a perfect glimpse of the forest’s natural beauty.

3. Campton Campground: We continued our journey with a drive through the Campton Campground also on Route 49. The well-maintained campsites and facilities underscored the efforts of the WMNF team in providing a welcoming environment for visitors.

4. Beaver Pond Wayside: The stop at Beaver Pond Wayside was a delightful surprise. Located just after Lost River Gorge on Route 112, this area is a hidden gem. We learned about the area’s recreational opportunities, Christmas tree farming, and even gold panning. Many volunteers expressed a newfound desire to explore this peaceful spot further.

5. White Mountain National Forest Gateway Center / White Mountains Visitor Center: At the Visitor Center, conveniently located at Exit 32 of I-93, we explored the exhibits throughout the space shared by White Mountains Attractions Association and the White Mountain National Forest and learned of their partnership initiatives. The well-curated displays, professional staff on both sides of the building, gift shop and clean restrooms make it a must-stop for travelers.

6. Russell Colbath House: Our tour concluded at the historic Russell Colbath House, situated on the east end of the Kancamagus Highway. The house built in 1832 is the only original structure left from the town of Passaconaway. Gary, our knowledgeable guide, brought the rich history of the house and the surrounding area to life. The timber frame barn and the vibrant garden, filled with butterflies, added to the charm. We also enjoyed a lovely lunch here, making it a perfect end to our tour. A few of our GSAs walked the Rail N’ River which is a half mile ADA trail that winds through the forest to the Swift River.

Reflections from Our Volunteers

Jane L: “As a NH native, I was blown away. This tour was a great review for me, and I will definitely ensure all hikers and bikers stop at the HQ at Exit 27 and the visitors’ center at Lincoln Exit 32.”

Veronica: “The Russell Colbath House history as a post office was particularly intriguing. The entire day was informative and refreshing, giving me a new perspective on the WMNF operations and its future.”

Barbara: “The stops were well-chosen, and learning about obtaining day passes was very helpful. The Russell Colbath House was a highlight, and I now have a deeper appreciation for the WMNF.”

Kathryn: “Beaver Pond Wayside is a hidden gem. Stacey’s talk made clear the efforts to keep the forest healthy and beautiful. The Russell Colbath House tour was fascinating, and I might even get my Christmas tree from here this year!”

Joan: “My late husband and I RV volunteered at Russell Pond, and this tour brought back wonderful memories. I appreciated learning more about the WMNF and will definitely share this knowledge with visitors.”

Babs: “The tour gave me a renewed appreciation for this beautiful area and the dedicated people who maintain it. The Forest Service’s adaptive approach to meet the changing needs of the forest is impressive.”

Sue: “I loved our visit to Beaver Pond Wayside and the tour of the Russell Colbath House. I volunteer at the Manchester airport and will eagerly share my experiences with guests, directing them to the Exit 32 Visitor Center.”

Our tour of the White Mountain National Forest was not just a journey through a scenic landscape but also an educational experience that highlighted the dedication and hard work of the WMNF team. We left with a deeper appreciation for the forest and a wealth of knowledge to share with others. Thank you to everyone who made this tour possible and for the invaluable work you do in preserving this natural wonder.

Bonus materials:

Video: USDA Forest Service Historical Archaeologist Sarah Jordan gives us a glimpse into the past , present and future of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest.

Article: Forest Facts

Article: Forest Resource Management – non-native invasive species; fire management; planning and projects, bird survey, watershed monitoring…

Article: The White Mountain National Forest and N.H. Division of Historical Resources are proud to announce that the White Mountain National Forest’s Fabyan Guard Station has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Recognition of this historic building is an honor and has particular significance during this Centennial year of the White Mountain National Forest. The nomination was prepared in partnership with

Article: A collaboration between the White Mountain National Forest, state governments, conservation non-profits, and professional trail builders are working on a multi-year project to restore the historic Franconia Ridge Loop Trails.