Taking a drive on this highway is a must to fully experience fall foliage in Mt. Washington Valley, NH. After you take on this heritage scenic drive, you can refer to it as “The Kanc,” which is what most locals affectionately call it.
And if you want to drive the Kancamgus Highway like a local, read below for the route we recommend you take. Of course there are a many ways to take on this scenic byway, including making it part of your route to the valley from I-93, where you can take the exit 32 at N. Woodstock and Lincoln to make your way to Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire. You can also access it at it’s half-way point from Bear Notch Road that originates in Bartlett, New Hampshire.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll start by heading east from Lincoln, New Hampshire, you’ll travel this rolling road with tight turns, and reach high elevations. Make sure you make a stop at any of the scenic vistas you come across. You’ll see parking lots to your left and right as you drive that signify an overlook.
Continuing along “The Kanc,” as you reach the lower half be on the lookout for Sabbaday Falls. This waterfall is a .3 mile walk in on a hard, dirt trail. Parking is paid, by cash at self-pay stations. Parking is maintained by the forest service, and once you pay at one designated parking lot, your car is covered for the day at any other national forest service parking lot you park at.
Your .3 mile hike brings you Sabbaday Falls, which is made up of three falls, that plunge a total of 35 feet. A walking bridge helps you navigate the falls to see them from multiple angles. The falls are open May through October, swimming is prohibited, and dogs are welcome.
Kancamagus Highway is also home to the Rocky Gorge and Lower Falls. While you can’t swim in it, the Rocky Gorge sits two miles above Lower Falls, and helps to feed them. Rocky Gorge offers a 10-foot drop and rapids through the gorge. Lower Falls offers a calmer and more serene scene with fast and slow-moving water in small falls, and small sandy beaches. Lower Falls make for a great swim stop in the summer, a great place to picnic in the fall.
And speaking of a picnic, all your time spent exploring is sure to drum up an appetite. Which is why making a stop at Cheese Louise, is an absolute must. Located a right at the base of the Conway side of “The Kanc,” Cheese Louise is an artisanal grilled cheese shop that serves up sandwiches with entertaining and delicious combos, as well as freshly squeezed juices, homemade ice cream sandwiches and epic shakes! It’s a stop that the entire crew will approve of!
You’ve reached the end of this road from here, where the Kancamagus Highway spits you out in Conway. Take a left at the light to head onto Route 16 North, and make your way into Conway, and North Conway.
Of course, when you find yourself in Conway, you must stop at Tuckerman Brewing Company. This brewery is a real OG of the valley, and has been brewing beer for twenty-five years. With a fleet of beer named after distinct features of Mt. Washington Valley, such as its “Headwall Alt,” which is a German Style Brown and a nod to the famously-known Tuckerman Ravine backcountry ski experience.Tuckerman Brewing Company has six flagship beers on draft, seltzer, and rotating season specials. It also has an outdoor beer garden with corn hole, and the option to order small plates and lite bites. Tuckerman is always hosting a solid line-up of musical cast on weekends, as well. While Tuckerman Brewing Company is family-friendly, please note that it is not dog friendly.
This concludes your scenic drive of The Kancamagus Highway. This is just one of three majorly known scenic drives in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire. While “the Kanc” is definitely regarded as an iconic route, and a must drive for anyone planning a fall foliage vacation in New Hampshire, learn more about the valley’s other scenic drives, here, and here.
For complete trip planning resources and information, call 800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH) to talk to a Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce rep. To learn more about New Hampshire vacations, go to www.VisitNH.gov.