Lindsey Lapointe is a New Hampshire outdoor adventure writer, blogger, and content creator. She shares the details about her family’s relaxing and fun weekend trip with Bretton Woods Vacations to enjoy the White Mountains in spring.
Time for a Getaway
Spring in New England is one of the best times of year. After the long winters of snow and ice, it’s joyful to witness the first wildflowers, bird nests, snow melt, and buds on the trees. What better way to celebrate the end of winter and start of spring than a mountain stay? While many wait for the summer weather, early spring visitors to the White Mountains of New Hampshire can take advantage of low-season accommodations, quiet trails, and an awakening of life in the mountains. For these reasons, my husband, two kids, family dog, and I headed to the White Mountains for a spring vacation.
The White Mountains are an amazing destination year round, but to take advantage of off-season rates, no crowds, and the first of the wildflowers – head to the Whites from May through June. This spring, I booked a stay with Bretton Woods Vacations for the first weekend in May. It was a relaxing and special way to spend the Mother’s Day weekend.
We LOVED our vacation rental. This was the second time this year I booked a stay with Bretton Woods Vacations. This time, we stayed at Owls Roost – a beautiful cabin on 32 acres – complete with easy trails, mountain views, a river beach and a swimming hole. It’s also pet friendly so we brought Summit, our 8 year old lab mix. The house had three bedrooms, kitchen, loft playroom, living room, fire pit, and deck. Bretton Woods Vacations manage multiple homes in the White Mountains so you are bound to find the perfect accommodations for your needs.
Bretton Woods is located just north of Crawford Notch State Park in the White Mountain wilderness. It’s one of my favorite areas of the Whites for its proximity to amazing waterfall trails, the Presidential Range, and many 4,000 footer peaks. Here’s our family-friendly excursions during our two night stay.
Spring Kid-Friendly Hikes
Ripley Falls is a 1.2 mile out-and-back hike that climbs about 400 feet in elevation to a tall slabby waterfall. The hike is considered moderately difficult by White Mountains standards. My four and six year old managed the hike totally fine with a couple snack breaks. They loved climbing the boulders at the base of the falls and feeling the spray of the water. It was a perfect morning hike. New Hampshire State Parks charges $5 to an iron ranger for parking at the trailhead.
Elephant Head is a short 0.6 mile out-and-back up to a cliff in Crawford Notch. It departs on Route 302 across from the AMC Highland Center, next to Saco Lake. The view is epic and a great place if you’re short on time and want an impressive vista. The trail climbs up rocks and roots on a moderately difficult trail. Because of the short distance, my four and six year old handled it easily. At the cliff, enjoy views of the notch both ways. You can even see the red roofs of the iconic Mount Washington Hotel to the north. If you have a little more time, also tag on the Around The Lake trail that’s right next to it!
Our rental at Bretton Woods Vacations had an easy trail system that took us to beaches and a swimming hole on the Ammonoosuc River. This trail system is only available to those who rent one of three properties that’s part of Moose Lodge and Cabins properties. However, even if you aren’t staying there, you can access the river. Take the Ammonoosuc River Loop – a 2 mile, easy trail that grants views and access to the river.
AMC Highland Center Playscape
One of my kids favorite parts of the trip was playing at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center Playscape. The Highland Center is a large lodge for dining, overnight accommodations, and guided trips. The center has a play structure that blends with the natural landscape. My children love traversing the suspension bridge, crawling in caves, and climbing the ropes. This free attraction is perfect for ages 4-10. Plus, there’s access to bathrooms, food, and a gear store in the center. Parking is limited in the high season, but May is relatively empty.
The Perfect Spot for a Trip to the Mountains
If you’re looking for a spot to get away from crowds, experience natural beauty, and go for a hike- Bretton Woods and the surrounding communities of the White Mountains are the perfect spot for a vacation. Whether you’re planning a family adventure, couples retreat, or a friends trip – the proximity to nature trails, beautiful drives, and the historic sites of the region make this a dream destination. Summer brings crowds so spring is the perfect time to experience solitude. Besides fewer people, it’s also the best time of year to spot a moose or bear. So if wildlife viewing is a goal, come in May.
Make it a tradition
It’s been a few weeks since my family stayed at the cozy cottage at Bretton Woods Vacations, but my kids are still talking about it. From the private trails on the property to the unique and comfortable accommodations, we all had an amazing time. This comfortable getaway built some core memories for all of us. I recommend everyone take the time to experience the White Mountains in spring.