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Greens & Whites – New England Mountain Ranges

Before I say anything else, let me say that I love both the Green Mountains in Vermont and the White Mountains in New Hampshire equally as much.

Although they belong to the same ancient mountain chain, the Appalachian Mountains, they have distinctly different features. This is not a post to point out why one of them would be ‘better’ than the other; it’s simply a post that features the highlights of both—and of course plenty of pictures.

I’ve spent plenty of time in both places, including hiking trips, weekend trips, road trips, and day trips.

Vermont’s Green Mountains

The Green Mountains essentially form the spine of the state of Vermont, running from south to north across its entire length. The mountains extend south into Massachusetts where they’re known as the Berkshires, and north into Québec, Canada, where they go by the name of Monts Sutton, or Sutton Mountains.

Green Mountains, Vermont
View from Mount Mansfield
Green Mountains Fall Foliage
Fall foliage lines a road through the Green Mountains

Vermont’s state nickname, the ‘Green Mountain State,’ is taken from the mountains. Its very name, even, is derived from them—Verts Monts means Green Mountains in French. The University of Vermont in Burlington is known as UVM, which stands for Universitas Viridis Montis, Latin for University of the Green Mountains.

Green Mountains, Vermont
Green Mountains as far as the eye can see
Chipmunk in the Green Mountains, Vermont
Chipmunk on a hiking trail in the Green Mountains

As you can see, the Green Mountains are the heart and soul of the state. They also bring in quite a lot of money from tourism. Many of the mountains have hiking trails in summer, and facilities for skiing and snowboarding in winter. The Long Trail runs over all major peaks and is joined by the Appalachian Trail for some of its length. A number of world-class winter sports resort dot the state, from Stratton Mountain in the south to Jay Peak in the north. In fall, thousands of people from all over North America flock to Vermont to admire the spectacular fall foliage.

Lake and fall foliage in the Green Mountains, Vermont
Lake and fall foliage in the Green Mountains
The Long Trail, Vermont
The Long Trail runs the entire length of the state

Major mountain peaks in the Green Mountains are Mount Mansfield, Killington Peak, Camel’s Hump, and Mount Abraham. Generally speaking, the Green Mountains aren’t wild whatsoever, at least not like the White Mountains as we will see in a short while. They’re rather a series of rounded peaks, weathered away over time, with rolling forest-covered valleys below. Only five mountains rise higher than 4,000 feet—Mount Mansfield, located in Stowe, is the tallest of them all, with a height of 4,393 feet (1,339 meters).

Summit of Mount Mansfield, Green Mountains, Vermont
Summit of Mount Mansfield
View from Camel's Hump, Vermont
View from Camel’s Hump

New Hampshire’s White Mountains

Unlike the Green Mountains in Vermont, the rugged White Mountains in New Hampshire are home to true wilderness. This expansive mountain range covers approximately a quarter of the state—New Hampshire’s nickname is the ‘Granite State,’ after the granite that makes up the mountains.

Mount Washington Summit, New Hampshire
Summit of Mount Washington
Boardwalk in The Flume, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Boardwalk in The Flume

Made up of several smaller mountain ranges, the White Mountains are without question the wildest place in New England. ‘The Whites,’ as they’re sometimes called, are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The Appalachian Trail runs through the heart of the mountain and over many of its major peaks while many mountain summits can be ascended on day or overnight hikes. Rivers crisscross the region and invite you to throw out a line; picturesque lakes allow fun afternoons spent canoeing or paddleboarding.

White Mountains Waterfall
Waterfall in the White Mountains
Mount Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, New Hampshire
Mount Moosilauke Ravine Lodge

There are no less than 48 4,000-footers in the White Mountains—remember that there were only five in the Green Mountains.

Alpine Vegetation on Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire
Alpine vegetation on Mount Moosilauke
Franconia Notch in Fall, White Mountains
Franconia Notch in fall

Unlike the Green Mountains, which are unquestionably great for hiking, fishing, and vacations in nature, but don’t have any major highlights, the White Mountains have several specific attractions. They’re home to the Mount Washington Cog Railway, Mount Washington Resort, the Mount Washington Auto Road, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, the Flume, and the magnificent Kancamagus Highway.

Mount Washington Cog Railway
Mount Washington Cog Railway
Summit of South Moat Mountain, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Summit of South Moat Mountain

Anyone who’s looking to spend some time hiking and camping in real wilderness should head to New Hampshire and its White Mountains. People who want to go on scenic road trips, visit some breweries, and hike up a mountain or two should opt for Vermont’s Green Mountains.

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9 thoughts on “Greens & Whites – New England Mountain Ranges

  • My husband and I are driving from DC to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine (where we grew up) starting tomorrow. This blog was perfect timing. Love your description – and especially the photos.

    • Thanks, Debbie! I’m glad you like it. Sounds like a fantastic trip too 🙂 If you have any questions, I’d be happy to (try to) answer them.

  • Hi, I am planning for a trip on Oct 16 weekend, looking for a good drives and view points for photography.
    Which one do u suggest is better – Vermont or New Hampshire.

    Also i have a little one, planning to take some good pictures with fall colors and leaves.

    Suggest good routes and stops if any for good photography.

    • Hi Naresh,

      It’s hard to pick the best state for fall foliage. New Hampshire is best for mountain scenery, while Vermont is best for rural scenes and quaint villages. If I had to choose between them, I’d suggest Vermont. Route 100 is definitely an amazing drive, past viewpoints, pretty towns and through agricultural landscapes.

  • Hi Bram, thanks for all this info. Based on what you have to say about both sets of mountains, I’m going to plan on visiting the Greens…. Do you have any suggestions though on campgrounds, trails or general areas? I don’t know the region at all but I’d love long (solo) hikes.

    • I should add that I’m planning to be there in a week or two (late August) so I know I won’t see much in the way of autumn colors.

      • Jesus, I would definitely take a look at the Long Trail, America’s oldest long-distance trail, which essentially follows the spine of the Green Mountains across Vermont. This is an excellent long-distance hike, but also offers the opportunity to do (long) day hikes or overnight hikes. Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump are two particular peaks that immediately come to mind. Personally, I haven’t done any camping in the Greens, so I can’t really help you with that. I would focus on the area around Stowe/Waterbury.

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