View of Mount Washington Valley from the Green Hills Preserve in North Conway, NH.
Green Hills Preserve View of Mount Washington Valley from the Green Hills Preserve in North Conway, NH. © Joe Klementovich, Klementovich Photography

Places We Protect

Green Hills Preserve

New Hampshire

Welcome to one of New Hampshire's most beloved preserves, nestled in the Mount Washington Valley.

Just east of the hustle and bustle of North Conway Village lies a ridge of small mountains with bald peaks and outstanding views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. More than 5,500 acres of this ridgeline and three mountain peaks are protected in the Conservancy’s Green Hills Preserve.

Here, visitors are rewarded with excellent hiking and opportunities to view unusual red pine rocky ridge habitat and rare plants like White Mountain silverling, smooth sandwort and green adder’s mouth. In addition to its exposed ridge habitats, the preserve also features wetlands, mixed hardwood forests and hemlock groves which support a diversity of White Mountain wildlife like black bear, bobcat, and wood warblers. On summer evenings, the bald peaks also provide a great place to watch for common nighthawks and listen for the ethereal songs of whip-poor-wills, which are thought to nest near the summits.

The Green Hills ridge is derived from Conway Granite, a volcanic bedrock formed approximately 200 million years ago. This bedrock is exposed in several places along the ridge, most notably on Middle Mountain, Peaked Mountain, and Black Cap, where visitors are exposed to excellent views as well as lessons in geology and ecology. Peaked Mountain contains great examples of glacial polish, whereby the granite has a smooth, marble-like appearance created when fine grit on the underside of a glacier scours underlying rocks during movement. 

In the early 20th century, wildfires on the Green Hills burned many of the summit areas and were in large part responsible for the preserve’s uncommon red pine rocky ridge community. Look carefully at the red pines on Peaked and Middle mountains, and notice that most are about the same size – this is because they all originated around the same time, when fire had cleared out competing vegetation and created optimal conditions for red pine establishment. 

The idea of conserving the Green Hills began in 1966, when Katherine Billings and Anna B. Stearns, summer residents of New Hampshire, went on a bushwhack up Peaked Mountain. They were delighted to see a variety of forest types, fascinating geological formations and spectacular views. They resolved to protect the Green Hills from development and to enlist others in their campaign.

Anna B. Stearns visited the Green Hills often, even in winter. She and Katherine Billings shared their hopes for protection with many, including The Nature Conservancy. After years of negotiations, The Conservancy purchased 2,822 acres in 1990. Although Anna B. Stearns died before the purchase was finalized, she lived to learn of the Conservancy’s agreement to purchase the land, and she provided funding for the acquisition as a memorial for her mother and father. Since then, The Anna B. Stearns Foundation and many others have contributed to support The Nature Conservancy’s continuing work in the Green Hills.

The Green Hills Preserve is part of a larger matrix of contiguous conservation lands including town land, the Conway State Forest, and the White Mountain National Forest. More than 50 miles of hiking trails on the preserve provide moderate to strenuous routes to the summits of Middle Mountain, Peaked Mountain, and Black Cap, and also lead to the town’s Pudding Pond conservation area where the lovely Pudding Pond Trail follows a brook through spruce-fir and hemlock woods to Pudding Pond. 

Trail maps and further information: 

A preserve map & guide is available from the kiosks at the Thompson Road and Black Cap parking areas. You can also download the map & guide.

Special Visitation Guidelines:

  • Leave No Trace—please keep the preserve clean by carrying out your trash.
  • Snowmobiles are allowed on designated multi-use trails only. All other motorized use is prohibited.
  • Mountain biking is allowed on designated trails, but is prohibited anywhere on “foot travel only” sections of the trail system.
  • Off-trail mountain biking is strictly prohibited.
  • Help us protect wildlife on the preserve and be respectful of other hikers by keeping dogs leashed and under verbal control.
  • Respect the natural world around you! Do not remove or destroy plants, wildlife, minerals or cultural items.
  • No camping or open fires allowed.
  • Hunting is allowed. Be aware of hunting seasons.
Hidden Lives Explore the hidden lives of the wildlife that roam the Green Hills.