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