A.T. Community Spotlight: Gorham, New Hampshire

“Where we treasure our trails.”

Gorham, New Hampshire, is nestled in the Androscoggin Valley, where a river and beautiful mountains provide a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities—from canoeing, kayaking, and fishing to hiking, biking, and skiing.

As Gorham is ideally situated to enjoy all the offerings of the White Mountain National Forest and the northern Presidential Range, the town is a year-round destination for visitors who enjoy the many restaurants, breweries, charming motels, and campgrounds nearby.

In October 2020, Gorham received its official A.T. Community TM designation at a virtual ceremony attended by people from across the United States. (An in-person gathering was not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic.) Although the  designation is fairly recent,  Gorham has been serving the A.T. hiking community since the Trail was established. The town is the last main stop for northbound thru-hikers before they make the final trek to Katahdin in Maine. It’s a popular meet-up space for hikers to connect with family members before completing their journey. The post office also serves as a mail drop for hikers seeking to replenish their supplies.

People sitting around a firepit outside a shop

Photo by Deidre Blair

Gorham is anything but a sleepy town. Its population in the winter is only about 2,700, but it more than triples during the summer. Gorham welcomes a population of over 6,000 in the summer. Throughout the year, cultural events sponsored by the Medallion Opera House and St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, among others, provide entertainment and enrichment.

Gorham Outdoors

In 2021, Gorham was selected as one of ten communities nationwide to be awarded a first-round Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) Technical Assistance Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. This opportunity helped jumpstart action plans and work toward sustaining a flourishing outdoor recreation economy.

Gorham has since been awarded several smaller grants to assist the community in achieving goals outlined in the action plans. The town also received a large grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission to develop a community trail hub and website, where visitors can find information about accessing all forms of outdoor recreation.

Supporting Community

In addition to building a strong outdoor recreation economy, Gorham has facilitated a strong sense of community. While developing its action plans, Gorham invited trail users, community members, business owners, youth, and local government leaders to provide input and feedback Building relationships and shared visions among the participants has led to palpable sense of community and collaboration to protect the natural resources in and around Gorham for years of enjoyment to come.

People meeting around a conference table with a presentation on a screen in the background

Photo by Meg Poirier

Building on these recent successes, Gorham already has several projects in the works to advance community conservation. These include raising funds to buy more land for conservation and community forest efforts, updating kiosks and wayfinding signs for the extensive trail system, and incorporating outdoor education efforts within the school curriculum.

Reach out to Gorham if you want to learn more about the programs they have initiated or participated in, and be sure to swing by and enjoy the beautiful outdoors Gorham has to offer the next time you’re in New Hampshire.