Itinerary: Explore the Androscoggin Valley in Winter

Written by: Glenda and Gordon Globetrotter (aka anonymous!)  Hometown: Boston

Bio: We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a wonderful weekend in the historic Androscoggin Valley. Although we love international travel, there is nothing like returning to one’s roots to rekindle fond memories and discover new adventures.

Glenda spent childhood summers on her grandparents’ farm in Berlin and wanted to take some time reminiscing about those idyllic days roaming the “City that Trees Built,” the moniker given to Berlin during the 1920s when the Brown Corporation’s papermaking complex along the Androscoggin River was the largest in the world. I wanted to break in my new cross-country skis at Great Glen Trails in Gorham, and also experience Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, in winter. Here’s our suggested itinerary for a fun weekend in a region surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks and the echoes of an historic past.

Friday evening: Settle into your comfortable room at the Town & Country Inn & Resort in Shelburne, and grab a swim in the indoor pool or hit the health club before dining at the Inn’s restaurant. The T&C is famous for its prime rib, or try one of the daily specials.

Saturday morning: Head to Great Glen Trails early (it’s first come, first serve) to get a seat on the Mt. Washington SnowCoach, a heated coach with special tracks to help it navigate the twists and turns of the mountain during snow season and that delivers you to treeline at about 4,200 feet. Dramatic at any time of year, the sub-Arctic, treeless landscape is especially beautiful in winter with its jaw dropping views that stretch for miles in every direction!

Late morning: After your Mt. Washington adventure, grab a cup of Fair Trade coffee and a home-baked goodie at the White Mountain Café and Bookstore in downtown Gorham, which also carries excellent teas (Glenda’s favorite!) If you’re feeling peckish, dig into one of their sandwich specials or slurp a cup of soup, and check out the Good Karma board (it’s all about thankfulness and paying it forward). A stroll along Main Street will help your digestion, and the unique shops are a feast for the eyes. You’ll find everything from a great hardware store (my kind of shopping!) to ladies’ fashions, artwork, antiques and collectibles, delicious fudge, and a fun selection of moose souvenirs. Bonus: shopping in New Hampshire is tax free!

Afternoon: If you’re a history buff or have roots in the region, like Glenda, make a stop at the Berlin and Coos County Historical Society. The friendly volunteers are exceptionally knowledgeable and can help you locate your ancestors or provide information about all aspects of the city’s paper mill industry or historical information about the region.

Berlin also has a comfortable Main Street with a nice collection of shops and eateries, and it’s worth a meander. Just a few steps up from Main Street is the PSNH Smith Hydro Peninsula Park that gives visitors a glimpse into Berlin’s papermaking past. The mostly flat walking path along the Androscoggin River leads to views of the historic International Paper Mill ruins, river-scoured rocks, the Presidential Mountain Range, Mt. Jasper and Mt. Forist.

Evening: We’d heard a lot of good things about Libby’s Bistro, located in an old bank on Gorham’s Main Street, and we weren’t disappointed. Chef Liz Jackson studied with Julia Child and is known for her menu creativity using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The Bistro has a casual French countryside vibe that complements the great food. For simpler fare, try the SAaLT pub.

Sunday: I got to try out my new cross-country skis at Great Glen Trails, which has 45km of classic and skate-groomed trails right at the base of Mt. Washington. After a couple of hours of fantastic skiing we grabbed a bite to eat in the Glen View Café before heading home.

We’re not going to wait another 25 years before returning to the Androscoggin Valley, and are already making plans to visit during the summer for hiking, ATVing and moose watching!