North of Pinkham Notch , the territory of New Hampshire known as the Great North Woods  has been prized for one thing: its trees. The “metropolis” in these parts is Berlin, a town of 10,000 that made its fortune on logging in the 19th century. Now it is the center for several paper companies who have unfortunately polluted the fast-running Androscoggin River.
In recent years, however, the river is running cleaner and the trees of the region are more prized left standing, as an overflow of hikers from the Whites have been venturing here to take advantage of less-populated peaks that evoke the spirit of the way the White Mountains  used to be.
Near Berlin, the smaller town and logging center of Gorham has done a better job at keeping its Victorian downtown intact, making a pleasant enough place for a lunch stop. Farther west are the family-friendly town of Jefferson and the farming community of Lancaster. The latter is home to the grand estate of John Weeks, a descendent of one of the original settlers of the region who went on to become a U.S. Senator and Secretary of War.
It’s nothing fancy at all, but if you’re up for a drink and some local color, make your way to Fagin’s Pub (777 Main St., Berlin, 603/752-3074, 4:30 p.m.–12 a.m. Mon.–Sat.; 5 p.m.–11 p.m. Sun.), where drinks are strong and the pace is leisurely.
The largest county fair in the region is the Lancaster Fair (603/788-4531, www.lancasterfair.com , mid-Sept.), a six-day humdinger featuring oxen- and horse-pulls, sheep-dog competitions, and plenty of junk food and amusement rides. During the evenings, singing groups lead sing-alongs.
Get good deals on new and used outdoor equipment at Moriah’s Sports Bicycle Shop (101 Main St., Gorham, 603/466-5050, www.moriahsports.com , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri.; 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun.). The selection runs from bikes and shoes to tents and backpacks. The staff will also arrange guided tours and expeditions for you.