The Allure of the Kancamagus Highway
The Kancamagus Highway, affectionately known as “The Kanc,” is a treasure trove of autumnal hues, with a reputation as one of the most picturesque drives in the Northeast, and arguably the entire United States, during the fall season. This scenic byway traverses the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, showcasing the raw beauty of New Hampshire’s wilderness and the towering peaks of the Presidential Range.

A Drive to Savor, Not Speed
While the drive can be completed in roughly an hour, rushing through this experience would mean missing out on the full splendor of the fall foliage. The Kancamagus Highway is a journey meant to be savored, with ample pull-offs for admiring the views and capturing the perfect photo. However, it’s worth noting that the White Mountains are known for their unpredictable weather, with Mount Washington experiencing cloud cover 53% of the time, according to the Mount Washington Observatory.

What to Expect Along the Way
Starting in Lincoln, where Interstate 93 meets Route 112, travelers can explore local attractions such as Clark’s Trading Post and The Flume, a natural gorge with a covered bridge and walking trails. As you ascend towards Kancamagus Pass, reaching an elevation of 2,860 feet within the first 10 miles, the journey unfolds with stops like Loon Mountain, offering a gondola ride to the summit and the Glacial Caves.

Further along, the Pemigewasset wilderness region presents the Lincoln Woods Trail, an accessible path leading into the wilderness, perfect for encountering local wildlife and the serene Pemigewasset River. The drive continues through the Sandwich Range Wilderness Area, with scenic overlooks that become especially captivating during the peak of fall foliage.

Side excursions such as the Greeley Ponds Scenic Area, located about 9 miles east of Lincoln, provide a picturesque setting for a picnic and views of the ponds and cliffs. The Swift River valley region is rich in scenic stops and forest hikes, with the MT. Potash hike offering some of the most stunning vistas, while the shorter Lovequist Loop Trail around Falls Pond provides a glimpse into the region’s natural flora.

For those saving their energy for a single hike, the Boulder Loop Trail is a must-do. This 3-mile round trip can take 2-4 hours but rewards hikers with exceptional views of MT. Chocorua and the Swift River Valley. The trail’s gradual climb and steep pitches make it a popular choice during the fall season.

The Journey’s End
The final leg of the Kancamagus Highway brings travelers to Conway and North Conway, where additional attractions like outlet centers and the North Conway Scenic Railroad await. The White Mountains are a prime destination for their stunning scenery, accessible hiking trails, and, in autumn, a kaleidoscope of colors that create some of the best scenic drives in New England.

Interesting Facts and Stats
The Kancamagus Highway is designated as an American Scenic Byway for its outstanding natural beauty.
Peak foliage season in New Hampshire typically occurs from late September to mid-October, depending on weather conditions.
The White Mountain National Forest covers approximately 800,000 acres, with the Kancamagus Highway running through a significant portion of it.

By admin