Dixville Notch State Park (tel. 603/538-6707) has several good hiking trails, including a 2-mile round-trip to Table Rock and other hikes to waterfalls and a scenic gorge. Look for the parking area east of the Balsams Resort on the edge of Lake Gloriette. The loop hike (it connects with a .5-mile return along Rte. 26) ascends a scraggy trail to an open rock with fine views of the resort and the flanking wild hills. Note that certain trails sometimes close after very heavy rains. The park is open year-round; it's unstaffed and free of charge. Pets are allowed, but there are no facilities.
Learn the fundamentals of white-water paddling at Saco Bound's Northern Waters (tel. 603/447-2177; www.sacobound.com), a white-water school located right where the Errol bridge crosses the Androscoggin. With 1- to 5-day workshops in the art of getting downstream safely (if not always dryly), classes at the school involve videos, dry-land training, and frequent forays onto the river -- both Class I to III rapids at the bridge and more forgiving rips downstream. Two-day classes cost about $190, including equipment and a riverside campsite. If you're really a river hound, also check out Saco Bound's main offices, located in Conway and North Conway.
Excellent lake canoeing can be found at Lake Umbagog, which straddles the state line between Maine and New Hampshire. This lake, home to Umbagog Lake State Park (tel. 603/482-7795), has some 40 miles of shoreline, most of which is wild and remote; you'll sometimes hear the ghostly cry of loons at night. The day-use fee is $3, or $1 for children ages 6 to 11. You'll need a boat of some sort to properly see the lake; canoes and flatwater kayaks are available for rent at Saco Bound's Errol outpost . Saco Bound also offers pontoon boat tours to get a glimpse of the complex river system that feeds both into and out of the lake.
What's more, there are almost 70 campsites at the park; about half are primitive sites, scattered around the shoreline and on the lake's islands and mostly accessible only by boat, while the other half have water and electrical hookups. No reservations are taken. There are also three cabins available for nightly and weekly rental. Tent and RV sites cost $29 to $34 per night, while the cabins go for $80 per night.
The area around Errol also has some excellent roads for cycling; nearly all the routes leading out of town make for good exploring (though it does get mighty hilly heading east). One nice trip is south on Route 16: The occasional logging truck can be unnerving, but mostly it's an easy and peaceful riverside trip. Consider pedaling as far as the Brown Co. Bridge -- a simple, wooden, logging-road bridge that crosses the Androscoggin River, a good spot to leap in and float through a series of gentle rips. Ledges on the far side of the bridge are good for sunning and relaxing.
Biking information and rentals are available back in Gorham at Moriah Sports, 101 Main St. (tel. 603/466-5050), though at press time the owner was contemplating retirement; check ahead.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.