How to get what you need, see the sights, and lots of hikes
Sandwich has (among other things): post office, convenience store, library, swimming beaches, basketball court, tennis courts. For everything else, you will need to travel, in the following suggested directions:
Principal Routes to Civilization from Sandwich
A) Moultonboro, Center Harbor, Meredith Take Route 109 to Moultonboro, then Route 25 West to Center Harbor and Meredith (thence to I-93 for Concord, Boston)
What's there: Moultonboro (10 min) has a bank, gas station, Country Store, loon preservation center, medical office, and Aubuchon Hardware Center Harbor (15 min) has grocery store, laundromat, sporting goods store, craft supply store, and some restaurants Meredith (25 min) has pharmacies, movie theater, DQ and McDonald's and real restaurants, Mills Falls shops, supermarket on Route 104, boat trips on Lake Winnipesauke From Meredith you can also go to the big town of Laconia (with hospital etc) by taking the Parade Road just uphill from McDonald's (about 20 min. from there to Laconia) or take Rte 3 via Weirs Beach (a recreation zone including a big waterslide park).
From Moultonboro you can also turn left on Route 25 for 1/2 mile and then turn right on Route 109 all the way to Wolfeboro (about 20 minutes from Moultonboro), a classy old resort town on Lake Winnipesauke (with interesting sights and diversions). Huggins Hospital is in Wolfeboro on Route 28 toward Alton.
B) West Ossipee and Ossipee: Take Route 109 from Sandwich, but turn left before Moultonboro on a marked local road to Route 25. Turn left on Rte 25 for about 10 mins. to West Ossipee (then south on Rte 16 to the rest of Ossipee, and further south to bigger towns: Rochester, Durham which boasts the University of New Hampshire, and Portsmouth which is an historic seaport). Going north on Rte 16 from West Ossipee leads you to Chocorua, Conway, the Kancamagus Highway, Pinkham Notch, and Maine.
West Ossipee has McDonald's, a good barbecue place (Yankee Smokehouse), good Chinese food at the Windsong Restaurant, pizza and calzones at Ossipee House of Pizza, a Subway with good fresh subs, and the classy and interesting Whittier House restaurant. There's a 24-hour gas station, a car wash, drycleaner, auto parts store, canoe rental and access to Bearcamp River and Lake Ossipee (call Neil & Pat Clarke 539-6562). Also a tent-sale which sells a lot of handy items very cheaply. Just south of West Ossipee is a good lobster/seafood restaurant (Jake's). Just north of the Rte 25-Route 16 intersection is a Dunkin Donuts and White Lake State Park (enter without fee via the unmarked entrance on Depot Road for a nice walk around the lake or to put in a canoe). About 5 minutes further north on Route 16 is Mountain View auto repair and then Lake Chocorua, which has good swimming and canoeing. For the Indian Mound Shopping Center: grocery store, hardware store, Smith pharmacy (with good alternative-medicine products and literature), dentist, and laundromat down the street, go south on Rte 16 from West Ossipee about 5 minutes, and just past the golf course, where a boat store is visible, turn left. Ten minutes further south from Indian Mound is a Shop 'n' Save, Ames discount department store, and a big pharmacy, and a Dunkin Donuts. Another way to get to these (about 20 min. from Moultonboro) is to follow the above directions for Wolfeboro but take Rte 171 when it splits from Rte 109 to Wolfeboro. Route 171 is very scenic, and passes the Castle in the Clouds (a historic mansion which also has hiking trails, for an admission fee). When Rte 171 reaches Rte 28, turn left on Rte 28 to reach Rte 16, and turn right.
C) Conway area From West Ossipee about 20 min. north on Rte 16, or coming from Wonalancet to Chocorua (see D below), about 15 min. north from Chocorua on Rte 16. The following numbered choices are different routes you can take from Conway: (Note: all trails mentioned are described in the AMC Trail Guide and its maps. These trails are long and steep, and the weather at high elevations can turn cold, icy and windy, so please be prepared!!)
1) As you reach Conway, the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) leaves on the left. On Route 112, the Saco District Forest Service office is immediately on your right, and has lots of information on the White Mountain National Forest and its flora and fauna, including maps, and parking permits (required for trailhead parking) and campground information (there are also some good evening programs on wildlife and history at the campgrounds). There is LOTS of good hiking (including the Oliverian Brook Trail or Downes Brook Trail back to Wonalancet) and camping along the Kancamagus, and good views of the Swift River, and of the mountains as you go over Kancamagus Pass. Other good hikes are: Champney Falls Trail to Mt. Chocorua, UNH Trail (a loop, with great views), Sabbaday Brook Trail to the Tripyramids, and Greeley Ponds Trail to both peaks of Mt. Osceola. After a 30 minute drive on the Kancamagus Highway, you reach Lincoln (a good-sized tourist town) and Route 93. Within 10 miles north on Route 93 are some beautiful sites in Franconia Notch: the Flume (a waterfall area), the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, and wonderful (rugged and tourist-filled) hikes up onto the Franconia ridge (such as a circuit of the Flume Trail and Liberty Spring Trail, or Old Bridle Path which can be a circuit with Falling Waters Trail). Near Lincoln, the Kinsman Ridge Trail is wonderful, both at the Lost River end (a park with caves and lots of fun) and at the Cannon Mountain end. For great biking, there is a bike path all the way through Franconia Notch.
2) Conway and North Conway have lots of factory outlet stores and all the services (including Walmart), and several good outdoor stores (especially Eastern Mountain Sports in North Conway and Ragged Mountain Sports a few miles north of North Conway). Route 16 leads you to all of it, and Memorial Hospital is just north of North Conway village (about 35 minutes from West Ossipee, plus traffic delays which can be big in Conway).
3) West Side Road (left at the first traffic light in Conway and bear left at the fork by a covered bridge) is a scenic route to North Conway, and goes by Echo Lake State park, where you can walk up some great ledges behind the lake (path isn't well-marked, see AMC Guide). At the intersection after Echo Lake, turn right on River Road to return to Rte 16 in North Conway (turn right for Eastern Slope Inn, where the EMS Store is located) or turn left on River Road for the parking lot to Diana's Baths, which are nice waterfalls and the beginning of a great trail into the Moat Mountains.
4) By following Rte 16 to Glen, about 5 miles north of North Conway, you can take Route 302 through Bartlett to historic and impressive Crawford Notch, with MORE great hiking trails and highway views, and then Bretton Woods (where important international conferences were held at the close of World War II). Good trails in Crawford Notch are: the Crawford Path which is an easy access to the Presidentials; Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff trail (that's some cliff and railroad trestle); Mt. Willard Trail (a quick walk with a great view of Crawford Notch); the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail (trailhead is north of Bretton Woods, on the long Cog Railway base road), a steep but interesting access to AMC's Lake of the Clouds Hut; and the Caps Ridge Trail (whose trailhead is on an even longer road off the Cog base road) which is a great access to Mt. Jefferson (and the Randolph Mountain Club trails in the alpine zone, such as The Link).
5) In Glen, you should be sure to follow Route 16 north, past the pretty village of Jackson, to Pinkham Notch and the Appalachian Mountain Club visitor's center where several of the famous hiking trails up Mount Washington (and Mount Madison and the rest of the Presidential Range) are located, such as the Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Boott Spur Trail, the Great Gulf Trail (through the first NH wilderness area), and the Madison Gulf Trail. The Wildcat Range trail, directly across Route 16, is also great, and the short trails around Pinkham Notch are fun. Pinkham Notch also has dinners with slideshows on outdoor activities, particularly international ones.
Gorham: ten minutes from Pinkham Notch is Gorham, with several good restaurants and an inexpensive outdoor store called Labonvilles, and another Walmart.
Randolph: In Gorham you can turn left on Route 2 to reach the challenging Randolph Mountain Club trails.
The Mahoosucs: another 10 minutes north from Gorham on Route 16 brings you to Berlin, a lumbermill town, where you can hike into the interesting Mahoosuc Range (Mahoosuc Notch is said to be the most challenging boulder-hopping of the Appalachian Trail).
Androscoggin River and Lake Umbagog: If you go north from Berlin, you reach the Androscoggin River (good canoeing when water levels are right) and Lake Umbagog, a wonderful nature preserve that you can canoe through and camp in.
Wild River, Basin Pond, Chatham: in Gorham you can turn right on Route 2 to go to the lovely Wild River area, with good camping and hiking, and after crossing the border into Maine you can return on Route 113 all the way to Chatham and East Conway. Route 113 is a rough road (not plowed in winter) and has a lot of good river views and good trailheads, such as a circuit of Caribou Trail and Mud Brook Trail in the Caribou-Speckled Wilderness, and from the historic Brickett Place house, a circuit of Blueberry Ridge Trail and Bickford Brook Trail. From the Basin Pond campground, you can do a climb with great views on the Basin Trail to the Basin Rim Trail. Route 113 will then lead you through Chatham (back and forth across the Maine border) to East Conway.
6) Another way to go to Maine: in Conway if you do not follow Route 16 when it turns left to North Conway, you will go to East Conway and then Fryeburg, Maine on Route 302. Fryeburg is a scenic old town where Admiral Peary grew up, has a nice walk up Rattlesnake Mountain, and a nice drive to Bridgton, the beginning of a series of lake towns that you can drive to (and then eventually to Portland, Maine).
D) To get to Wonalancet (your workday route) take Rte 113 east. In North Sandwich, there is a convenience store, and soon after that Rte 113 turns right, and Route 113A continues to Wonalancet. (Note: Route 113 there passes important places like Chris Conrod's home and the Community School garden PRODUCE STAND, and the Bearcamp River Trail, and then reaches Rte. 25.) On Rte 113A you'll pass a nice town swimming area on the Cold River, and then Bennett Street on your left, which leads to the trailhead of Bennett Street Trail which climbs Sandwich Mountain, and intersects the trail to Flat Mountain Pond (a great area). Bennett Street Trail has some nice (cold!) swimming holes about a mile from the trailhead. You reach Wonalancet in about 15 minutes (without passing any amenities except the Difilipe greenhouse, which has produce). In Wonalancet there are trails galore. Some easy ones are the loop to Tilton Spring (using McCrillis Path and Pasture Path), the Kelley Trail which has great rock formations along the brook and makes a good loop with Old Mast Road, and the Brook Path which descends down the brook to a former small hydrostation. Blueberry Ledge Trail is the most popular WODC trail and has great views at the top. The Rollins Trail goes around the upper edge of the Bowl Natural Area and connects Blueberry Ledge Trail with Dicey's Mill, or the Wiggin Trail goes from Blueberry Ledge Trail down into the Bowl. The Square Ledge Trail (easiest to access by Old Mast Road and return via Dicey's Mill) is a long trip through remote valleys and up a cliff (no rock climbing needed) where Peregrine Falcons nest. The Wonalancet Range trail is a nice remote scramble with great views near the top of Mt Wonalancet and other good viewpoints. Lawrence Trail takes you to remote Mt. Paugus and the Chocorua trails. From Wonalancet to go to Tamworth and Chocorua: continue 10 min. on Rte 113 to Tamworth Village. It has the Barnstormers (first summer theater in US), the very interesting Remick Country Doctor and Farm Museum, and two stores--one with great gadgets and a lunch counter, and the other for groceries and good pizza. For other amenities, go to Rte 16: follow Rte 113 from Tamworth to Chocorua and go south on Rte 16 to West Ossipee (see above) or north on Rte 16 20 min. to Conway (see above). Chocorua Mountain Club trails: From Rte 16 just north of Lake Chocorua is a dirt road going west (just south of Washington Hill Road which goes east) which leads to a trailhead for Hammond Trail up Mt. Chocorua, or across the visible field are nice local trails going all over the Bolles Preserve, to Heron Pond, Bickford Heights, and other nice places not shown in the AMC Guide (see attached map by Chocorua Lake Conservation Foundation). Another nice circuit up Mt. Chocorua is to go up Brook Trail and descend Liberty Trail; the trailhead is on local roads, see AMC Guide for directions.
E) Another good route to Interstate 93: take Route 113 west toward Holderness, and you will pass good hiking with views of Squam Lake (such as the Rattlesnake Trail, or the Mt. Morgan Trail), and the Squam Lakes Association sailing and canoeing center (rentals usually available), and the Squam Lakes Science Center in Holderness (wonderful animal exhibits). At Holderness you can turn right to reach Plymouth and Route 93. Plymouth State College is there, and all the amenities of a big town, including a hospital. There are also the Polar Caves, a great jumble of slab rock caves to walk through, with some interesting birds on exhibit too. You can also head north from Holderness on Route 93 (and then Route 49 at Campton) to Waterville Valley (20-30 mins from Plymouth), which is the other end of many of our Sandwich Range trails. It is a modern resort now, but that stays behind you when you head up the trails. Lincoln and Franconia Notch (see below) are another 20-25 minutes north on Route 93 from Campton. From Holderness you can also head south on Rte 3 through Ashland to Route 93, and in 5 min. you'll reach the New Hampton exit (Rte 104) to Meredith (see above) and in another 30 minutes you reach Concord.
F) On your own Sandwich Notch Road there is good hiking, such as: Wentworth Trail (starts right at Mead Base) -- a beautiful but long climb (1700 feet), at least a 3-hour roundtrip up Mt. Israel, with great views especially from the ledgy ridge at the top. Beede Falls--nice waterfall/swimming hole and walking trail, a short distance up Sandwich Notch Road from Mead Base. Crawford-Ridgepole Trail --just 1/2 mile past Beede Falls. Ascends steeply to summit of Doublehead at 1.9 miles, then goes along a ridge with summits for as far as you want (11.3 miles). The Mt. Morgan loop (trailhead near Holderness) covers the middle of the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail. Algonquin Trail -- trailhead is a long, steep and rocky drive up Sandwich Notch Road (which ends at Rte 49 near Waterville), but is a great trip up Mt. Sandwich (9 mi. roundtrip).
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