Family Summer Fun at Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center

By AlpineZone News |
May 11 2005 - 12:50 PM

CRAWFORD NOTCH, New Hampshire ??” Experience the outdoors with the whole family this summer at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Highland Center, an all-inclusive, environmentally innovative destination for adventure, learning, and lodging. In July and August, the Highland Center will expand on its daily, year-round programming by offering a wide variety of family-friendly activities and outdoor adventures tailored to guests of all ability levels and ages.

Located in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in historic Crawford Notch, the Highland Center offers hiking, backpacking, climbing, canoeing, fishing, and swimming ??“ all steps away in the midst of New England’s most scenic mountain locations. The Highland Center’s “all-inclusive” approach to lodging, meals, activities, and gear makes it easy for busy families to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and programs without advance planning or carrying extra equipment.

Daily family programs will include guided hikes, naturalist talks, interactive educational programs, and other scheduled activities offered throughout the day and evening, giving families the opportunity to learn new outdoor skills while gaining a deeper understanding of the environment. Families will also have the flexibility to independently explore the mountains, lakes, and streams of the White Mountains based on their own knowledge and comfort level in the outdoors. Plus, guests can borrow a variety of outdoor gear, including fly-fishing rods, trekking poles, sleeping bags, boots, and backpacks, from the L.L. Bean gear room at no extra charge.

A typical day starts out with a hearty breakfast, after which kids can join a staff naturalist on a moose walk while a parent takes advantage of a morning yoga program. After a break for lunch, families can join a short family hike to explore some of the lakes and peaks of Crawford Notch, including Elephant Head and Mount Willard. An afternoon craft project or interactive nature study helps kids wind down in the late afternoon. In the evening, full-course meals are served family-style in the main lodge, providing an opportunity to compare notes on the day’s adventures with fellow guests. Evening programs range from game nights and movies to talks about White Mountains history.

Behind the Scenes Green Tours offering an inside look at the “green” construction techniques used at the Highland Center are available twice each day. A self-guided nature walk and audio tour is available, as well as an audio tour of Bradford Washburn’s photography exhibit in nearby Thayer Hall. Guests can also take a short walk to Crawford Depot and the Macomber Family Information Center, a National Historic Landmark restored by the AMC that offers interpretive material on the rich cultural history of Crawford Notch.

Kids ages four to twelve can earn a Junior Naturalist patch by observing the natural surroundings and filling out a workbook provided by the naturalists. Families will also have an opportunity to participate this summer in AMC’s Mountain Watch “citizen-science” program, which provides a hands-on opportunity to take measurements and observations of factors that impact air quality and climate change.

Additionally, the Highland Center is an excellent base camp for exploring the rest of the White Mountains region. Some of the many family activities located within thirty miles of the Highland Center include: Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, one of the top birding locations in the Northeast; paddling and fishing at Moore Dam Lake; biking the Franconia Notch bike path and Presidential Rail-Trail; swimming and hiking at Echo Lake State Park and Crawford Notch State Park; visiting the Twin Mountain Fish and Wildlife Center and museums such as Frost Place, Franconia Heritage Museum, New England Ski Museum, and Sugar Hill Historical Museum; and sightseeing at Franconia Notch State Park’s covered bridges. Trail lunches are available for families setting off on day trips on their own.

The Highland Center at Crawford Notch is located in Bretton Woods, NH on Route 302, ten miles east of Twin Mountain.

Reservations and rates: The Highland Center is open to the general public. Highland Center rates for a family of four start at $242/night for a shared room with four bunks and shared bathroom, and $350/night for a private room with a queen-sized bed, two bunks, and private bathroom. All-inclusive rates include lodging, family-style dinner and breakfast, daily activities, and free use of equipment. Child rates apply to those ages 15 and under. Discounted rates are available to AMC members.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit or call (603) 466-2727.