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A Winter Weekend in the White Mountains: North Woodstock NH

Is there anything more cozy than the sound of early morning raindrops on the roof of your tiny cabin as you sip coffee and watch the river dance past?

A collage of photos featuring North Woodstock, NH
Spend a weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!

At Lumen Nature Retreat in North Woodstock NH, the answer is yes, this cozy scene can be amplified by lighting the biofuel fireplace, playing your favorite tunes on the Marshall speaker, or taking a short walk to the pondside barrel sauna for a private session.

An outdoor weekend at Lumen will give you plenty of time to relax in your glamping cabin, but it also involves hiking to gorgeous waterfalls and expansive mountain views in Franconia Notch State Park, walking through charming covered bridges, and checking out a couple of legendary restaurants.

Are you in?

At-A-Glance: A Weekend in North Woodstock, New Hampshire

Here’s a bite-sized snapshot of everything you need to know to plan your trip to the White Mountains:

Stay at Lumen Nature Retreat in North Woodstock NH

A HYGGE Cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat.
A HYGGE Cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat

The tiny cabins at Lumen Nature Retreat manage to be both rustic and luxurious at the same time. While you won’t find running water or bathrooms within, you’re treated to little comforts like pour-over coffee, a high-end sound system, and most importantly, a posh bed with cozy linens. Wi-Fi is available upon request for those who can’t disconnect entirely.

Huge picture windows look out onto pond, river, or forest views, and smokeless fire pits with Adirondack chairs inspire glampers to spend more time outdoors.

Inside our HYGGE cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat.
Inside our HYGGE cabin at Lumen Nature Retreat.

We stayed in a riverside HYGGE cabin, but you can also choose from smaller LYKKE cabins, luxury safari tents, or tiny A-frame tents. The cabins can be reserved year-round, and the tents are available between May and October.

The barrel sauna at Lumen Nature Retreat.
The barrel sauna at Lumen Nature Retreat.

Staying at Lumen Nature Retreat was a fantastic way to enjoy an outdoor weekend when the weather was less than ideal. Here are a few extras that made our stay special:

  • The cozy biofuel fireplace in our HYGGE cabin
  • 45 minutes in the barrel sauna with a gorgeous mountain view
  • Cooking over an open fire as the river danced past
  • Bringing our two labs along for the weekend (we love dog-friendly spots)
  • Meeting our camping neighbors who were visiting from all over New England and New York
  • Hot showers in the luxurious bathhouse

The only part of our stay that we didn’t enjoy was all the mud!

Toasting to the weekend in Lumen Nature Retreat.
Cheers to the weekend!

We were keeping our fingers crossed for winter weather in the White Mountains, but alas, Mother Nature had other plans, and it rained every day of our visit. The grounds and Lumen became saturated, and it was a continuous challenge to keep our cabin mud-free, especially with two dogs.

Despite the mud, our cabin was cozy and relaxing, and we wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.

Enjoying our campfire before bed at Lumen Nature Retreat.
Enjoying our campfire before bed

Explore more of New Hampshire! Read these next:

A ‘Winter’ Weekend in the White Mountains

With its craggy snow-covered peaks and endless recreational opportunities, the Western White Mountains beckon outdoor lovers from all over the United States, who come to ski, hike, snowshoe, and climb in the winter.

Lumen Nature Retreat is based in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, within easy driving distance of Franconia Notch State Park, the White Mountain National Forest, and the iconic Kancamagus Highway. It’s the perfect spot for an almost-spring weekend!

Here are some spots you won’t want to miss in the Western White Mountains, no matter what time of year you choose to visit.

Stroll Through a Few Covered Bridges

Blair Bridge in Campton, NH.
Blair Bridge in Campton, NH

I am unashamedly at the age where I pull over to admire and photograph covered bridges throughout New England. You too? Well, then you’re in the right place!

Covered bridges add a touch of nostalgia and romance to the woodland and pastoral scenes of the White Mountains. I appreciate the nod to an era that has been all but forgotten in our modern world of fast cars and asphalt highways.  

These beautiful feats of engineering offer a one-of-a-kind look into a bygone age — a time when ingenious craftsmanship was used to create structures that embodied simple beauty and embraced the natural landscape. 

Bump Bridge in Campton, NH
Bump Bridge in Campton, NH

There are several covered bridges in this part of the White Mountains. Here are the ones I recommend visiting:

  • Blair Bridge in Campton, NH: Spanning the Pemigewasset River, Blair Bridge is an impressive 293 feet long, and was built in 1870 to replace an earlier bridge that was destroyed in a fire. This is the only covered bridge I’ve seen with lights inside, and the setting is lovely too. Elevate the experience by dining riverside at Covered Bridge Farm Table, which has great pub fare and live music on the weekends.
  • Bump Bridge in Campton, NH: The current Bump Bridge was built in 1972 to span the Beebee River. It’s difficult to photograph from the river bank, and there’s a pull-off for a single car.
  • Sentinel Pine Bridge and Flume Bridge in Franconia Notch State Park: Both of these bridges span the Pemmigewasset River, and are located at The Flume, a popular waterfall attraction in Franconia Notch. This is a fun attraction to visit in the winter and is free to visit in the off-season.

Hike to Waterfalls in Franconia Notch State Park

Eric and Flynn checking out the falls at The Basin in Franconia Notch State Park.
Eric and Flynn checking out the falls at The Basin in Franconia Notch State Park.

Franconia Notch has been a tourist destination since the early 19th Century when wealthy families from Boston purchased or built luxury resorts in the area. Franconia Notch State Park became an official New Hampshire State Park in 1928, and visitors have been flocking to these rugged mountains ever since.

Visiting Franconia Notch in the winter is a far more mellow experience than a summer visit, but even on a snowy/rainy March weekend, we rarely found ourselves alone in our explorations.

The White Mountains and Franconia Notch State Park are full of waterfalls. Dozens of them. You could spend weeks and weeks exploring the waterfalls in the White Mountains, but many of them are remote and require grueling hikes to see them.

Several of the waterfalls in Franconia Notch State Park are very easy to get to, and in the off-season, you’ll be sharing the experience with a mere handful of people.

First, don a pair of Microspikes for a better grip on the icy trails, then grab your camera and visit these gorgeous waterfalls!

  • The Flume Gorge: The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. There are stairways throughout and numerous beautiful waterfalls that may or may not be sheets of ice when you visit. Hike into the gorge to view the gorge and Avalanche Falls, or do the 2.2-mile loop to also view Liberty Falls. This is one of the attractions that we prefer in the off-season when it’s far less crowded and free to visit.
  • The Basin: The Basin resembles a large bowl carved out by a plunging waterfall. It’s a sight to behold, but just one of the dozens of gorgeous falls found along the Basin Cascade Loop, a 2.9-mile loop that starts easy and gets steeper and more difficult as you progress to Kinsman and Rocky Glen Falls.
  • Falling Waters Trail: Another collection of three waterfalls along a 3.2-mile trail that leads to the summit of Little Haystack Mountain. This is the longest hike on the list — one we have not tackled in the winter. The main attraction is the 80-foot Cloudland Falls, which is about 40 minutes from the trailhead.

Ride the Cannon Mountain Aeriel Tramway

The Cannon Mountain Aeriel Tramway in Franconia Notch State Park.
The Cannon Mountain Aeriel Tramway in Franconia Notch State Park.

I’m from Vermont, but I never learned how to ski, and I’m honestly not very interested, BUT I am jealous that skiers get to enjoy those epic winter views from the top of the chairlift.

Which is why I was thrilled to ride to the top of New Hampshire’s highest ski resort on the Cannon Mountain Aeriel Tramway. The original tramway at Cannon Mountain was the very first in the US, built in 1938.

We road on Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway II, which replaced the original in 1980. It was a snowy day on the mountain, and we were crammed like little sardines into the tramway on the way up. Skiiers and snowboarded talked trails in Boston accents, while we rode above the snow-covered spruce trees into the clouds.

cannon mountain observation tower

After disembarking at the upper lodge, Eric and took a short hike through a packed 3-foot base of snow to the Cannon Mountain observation tower where we were treated to epic views of Mount Lafayette and the ribbon of highway that snakes through the park.

The Cannon Mountain Aeriel Tramway is open on weekends in the winter and every day between May and October. You will save three bucks if you get your tickets online, which you can do from your phone when you get to the lodge.

Also read: The Most Incredible Things to Do in Lincoln, NH

Drive the Famous Kancamagus Highway

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area off the Kancamagus Highway.
Rocky Gorge Scenic Area off the Kancamagus Highway. Photo Credit

Locals love it when you can pronounce this famous scenic byway correctly, so the first thing you should know is that it’s “Kank-ah-mah-gus.”

The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5-mile stretch of pavement that winds through the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway, New Hampshire.

“The Kanc”, as it is affectionately called, is particularly lovely (and crowded) in the fall, and winter gives it a whole new personality with long views, roadside icicles, and quit trails. There are no stores, gas stations, or lodging on the Kancamagus Highway, so it’s a bit like stepping back in time, if only for a brief time.

Kancamagus Highay informational sign
Kancamagus Highay informational sign

Here are some beautiful Kancamagus Highway attractions that don’t require an all-day hike or an above-average fitness level. They are listed from east to west.

  • The Lincoln Woods Trail to Franconia Falls is an easy hike and an even easier bike ride.

    This is one of the most popular hiking trails on the Kancamagus Highway, crossing the Pemigewasset River on a suspension footbridge, and traveling into one of the largest tracts of wilderness in the northeastern United States.

  • Sabaday Falls: After a five-minute walk, you will be greeted with two plunging waterfalls and a five-foot-high punchbowl. There are boardwalks throughout, and visitors can view the falls from many different angles.
  • Rocky Gorge Scenic Area: Cross a wide footbridge over the Swift River as it narrows into Rocky Gorge, then hike the one-mile trail around Falls Pond.

Indulge at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH

pollys pancake parlor
Polly’s Pancake Parlor has been around since 1938

This gem of a place was not even on my radar when I was planning my trip to the White Mountains. Thank goodness for a friend from New Hampshire who shared that Polly’s simply could not be skipped.

The advice was to call ahead and tell them we were on our way, so that’s what I did. The hostess who answered the phone advised me that it was at least an hour’s wait, so we took the long way through the mountains.

Polly’s Pancake Parlor is an experience! Pancakes are made from flour ground in-house from the same recipes they’ve used since the place began in 1938.

pollys pancakes
The buckwheat pancakes at Polly’s were the best!

You can choose from a few different batters and a few different additions. The servers cook the pancakes and serve them up hot and quick with real maple syrup and a homemade maple spread.

There’s maple pepper for your eggs. Maple coffee drinks, and maple biscuits, plus you can buy all kinds of maple products to bring home to your dog sitters.

I ordered buckwheat blueberry (my favorite), gingerbread with coconut, and plain with walnuts. I should have ordered more! I admit that I don’t usually order restaurant pancakes, so I might not be the best judge, but it has been at least a decade since I’ve tasted such incredible pancakes.

No matter the season, if you’re craving outdoor time, you can recharge and relax in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Spend your days exploring mountain trails and gushing waterfalls, and your evenings enjoying the warmth of your tiny cabin with a view.

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A collage of photos featuing a winter weekend in Woodstock, NH.
Tara Schatz sits with her two dogs, Gatsby and Flynn.

Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She is the co-author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont and currently blogs at Back Road Ramblers and Vermont Explored, where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone.