The White Mountain National Forest is located in the mountains of western Maine and New Hampshire. One of the entry points to the area is through Gilead, Maine about 20 miles from where we live. I spent a lot of my childhood in this area because this is where my mom grew up. I didn’t appreciate it then like I do now as an adult. When we decided to take Onyx on her first camping trip, we decided to camp in the Evans Notch area at Basin Campground. The Basin is actually located within the New Hampshire border but to get there, you have to drive via Route 113 either thru Gilead or Fryeburg, Maine.
The White Mountain National Forest in Maine and New Hampshire has lots to offer. In the general vicinity of Evans Notch, there are at least four campgrounds. In Maine, closer to the Gilead side of Route 113, you will find the Wild River Campground and the Hastings Campground. The Wild River Campground is a small site with about five spots designated for tents. Hastings Campground can accommodate both tents and campers. In the New Hampshire section of Route 113, both Cold River Campground and Basin Campground are co-located in the same area. These two sites can accommodate both tents and campers. Basin Campground is nestled in the woods near the Basin.
There’s a lot of history in the White Mountain National Forest. The Evans Notch Road was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936 under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture. The entire Route 113 is a beautiful drive that takes you up and down winding, tree covered roads through the mountains of Evans Notch. At the peak of the notch (Elevation, 1458 ft), there is a scenic viewpoint with a geological marker and sign. “Near this point the watersheds of the Androscoggin and Saco Rivers divide,” WMNF. The CCC was created as a result of the New Deal during the Great Depression era. Not only did the CCC give us an invaluable gift for life but they were provided with work during one of the darkest moments in America’s history. Each national park, forest, and historical landmark not only tells us a story of our heritage but may be a demonstration of yet another project the CCC was behind.
We had camped in the White Mountain National Forest area before. We stayed at both the Wild River Campground in Maine and the Basin Campground in New Hampshire. We decided to go back to the Basin Campground because we fell in love with the place the last time we camped there. We had to take Onyx to not only a sentimental place for me but to one of our most favorite camping spots near home. We had made plans to hike so while we were there, we walked straight from our site up the Basin Trail, which was parallel to the Basin for a bit, then eventually led to Hermit Falls. It was about a 2.5 mile round trip hike, very easy hike but technical. Easy means minimal elevation and technical means lots of tree roots, rocks, brooks, etc. to maneuver over and thru. The Hermit Falls are breathtaking and the trail takes you to the top of them. You can sit and look down at the drop while you listen to the water falls.
The Basin Campground offers convenience to the Basin, which is beautiful body of water nestled in what looks like a bowl of mountains. Another thing we love about Basin is the wind that blows through that area. It’s as if there is a strong gust of wind just funneling through the notch. It’s a great place to escape the heat with plenty of shade and wind to keep you comfortable. It’s an excellent location to hike because of the climate. The Basin Trail takes you to Hermit Falls (1.25 miles) but if you wish to go further, you have that choice. You can hike to the Rim Junction Trail (2.3 miles), the Blue Brook tent site (2.7 miles) or to Wild River Campground (4.5 miles). Not far from the Basin is a Historic landmark called Brickett Place. This historic home was built in 1830 and is open to the public on summer weekends. It’s also the location of the entry point to the Bickford Brook Trail. This trail leads you to the Blueberry Ridge Trail (0.6 miles), Spruce Hill Trail (2.8 miles), and Speckled Mountain Trail (4.1 miles).
I think Onyx really enjoyed our camping trip, especially the walking and hiking. She didn’t relax at the campground because she is naturally protective. Her number one priority was me and to make sure our turf was protected. But, thanks to her, we can relax. I went for a few walks at the campground on my own just to explore every inch of the place while we were there, and Onyx makes that possible. Someday I’d like to get dropped off at the Basin with Onyx and hike to the Wild River Campground where we can plan another camping trip. She really seems to enjoy the hiking like I do and the more we hike, the better in sync we get. She is used to staying beside me which isn’t always possible on a skinny foot trail. If she couldn’t be beside me, she made sure her head was touching my leg. I had never hiked a technical trail like that with a dog. She did really good at reading me and overcoming the obstacles without interfering with my process. She was respectful of my boundaries and she made me really proud.