Crawford Notch State Park
6 miles of unspoiled rugged natural beauty in scenic mountain pass. Ideal for hiking, fishing and photography. Crossed by trails, some of which lead to incomparable views of Presidential Range. Dry River Campground, 30 tent sites. Scenic waterfalls. The Flume and Silver Cascades visible from highway. Arethusa Falls, one of the tallest in NH, can be reached by a short hike.
A plaque marks the site of Willey House, a stopover for wagons traveling in the late 1700's. Samuel Willey, his family, and two hired men lost their lives here in 1826 in a landslide.
Location: Route 302, Harts Location
Activities: Camping, hiking, fishing, picnicking
Amenities: Campground, picnic tables, snack bar and gift shop
Camping: Early-May to Early December
Acreage: 5,775 acres
Most of the land in Crawford Notch was acquired by the state of New Hampshire in 1913.
It was the result of a bill passed by the legislature in 1922, aimed at rescuing the northern region of Hart's Location from excessive timber harvest. The bill failed to include the northern, most scenic part of the notch, which the state purchased in 1912 for $62,000.
Almost 6,000 acres are included in the state park. The land extends on both sides of the highway to the summits of the mountains that border the Saco River Valley. In 1922 the Willey House clearing was leased to Donahue and Hamlin of Bartlett who built a cabin colony of peeled spruce logs for vacationers. More log buildings were added including rest rooms, a restaurant, and gift shop, but eventually the state took back the clearing for its own operations.
Increasing tourism to the White Mountains generated interest in the building of a railroad through Crawford Notch. The construction of the railroad was considered a difficult engineering feat that was thought to be impossible by many. The railroad, built by Anderson Brothers of Maine, was opened in 1857 and ran from Portland, through the notch, to Fabyans, the area where Ethan Allen had operated his inn.