Kancamagus Scenic Byway & The White Mountains Trail: This is the granddaddy of fall foliage drives and the only scenic byway loop drive in the country. Take Route 112 off Route 16 in Conway and follow the Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire’s only scenic byway, to Lincoln, NH, then through Franconia Notch onto Rt. 302 through Bretton Woods and back into Mt. Washington Valley. When on “the Kanc”, travel over 33 miles through the White Mountain National Forest, past waterfalls, mountain brooks and hiking trails to Lincoln. Keep a watchful eye out, as this is one of the best moose-watching locations! From there, continue through Franconia Notch to view the site of the former Old Man In The Mountains.
You can visit the Old Man Museum and the New England Ski Museum and other attractions, then hop on 93N to Rt. 302. Travel south through Bretton Woods, stopping for lunch or a tour of the Mt. Washington Hotel. Continue through Crawford Notch back to Bartlett and back again to North Conway Village. It’s about a 100-mile round trip but will most likely take all day, stopping along the way for photos, scenic overlooks, unique restaurants and shopping.
West Side Road: West Side Road parallels the White Mountain Highway through North Conway’s shopping district. This country road takes you through farmland, past the White Horse and Cathedral Ledges, and past farms and farm stands bearing local produce. From Route 16 North in Conway, with an outlet in North Conway Village onto Route 16, or continue North to Route 302 in Bartlett, his is a popular alternative to the Route 16 “strip” through North Conway’s business section. The Bartlett section alone is worth the trip for views across the river and the Intervale.
Cathedral Ledge Road: Take this road to the top of Cathedral Ledge for an unsurpassed view of the colors in the Valley from Conway Lake to Bartlett. From the North Conway-Bartlett section of West Side Road, you’ll turn on to Cathedral Ledge Road and begin climbing up to the top. The road narrows toward the top. Park at the top in a loosely marked parking area and walk out onto the ledge to see all of Mt. Washington Valley before you. This is one of those rare scenic overlooks that you can drive to! If you’re lucky, you may be there when a rock climber “tops out” and comes up over the ledge. This road is not open in the winter.
Jackson Loop: A ride through Jackson’s covered “Kissing Bridge” is a thrill in itself. Stop on either side of the bridge for a photo. From Route 16 North, go through the bridge and on to Route 16B. The road loops left just before Black Mountain, then goes left again down Carter Notch Road back to Jackson Village. Scenic spots include the picnic stop along Jackson Falls, and the New England Church and gazebo in Jackson Village. You’ll want to stop along the way for selfies while taking in the color in the Presidentials.
Eaton/Madison/Snowville: Take this route and you are guaranteed to find the quintessential perfect place for a fall foliage photo. From Route 16 in Conway, head south east on Route 113 . You can continue south to Madison or turn left at Crystal Lake and go through Snowville back to Route 113, then go left on Route 113 in Brownville and back to Fryeburg, then back to Conway. Be sure to stop at Crystal Lake with the little New England white, steepled church in the background. It is one of the most often requested photos from this area. Take this scenic drive and capture your own photo to remember it by!
Bear Notch Road: Take this road at dawn or dusk for the greatest chance to spot a moose along the road. Access Bear Notch Road from Route 302 in Bartlett and take it over to Kancamagus Hwy or from the “Kanc” over to Route 302 in Bartlett. For some, this is considered a by-pass, for most it’s considered incredibly scenic. This is another road that’s not passable in the winter.
The Notches: Pinkham Notch (on Route 16, past Jackson); Crawford Notch (on Route 302, past Bartlett) and Evans Notch (from East Conway) all offer perfectly spectacular fall foliage vistas and viewing. Each of the notches offer scenic glory and ideal picture taking opportunities. Look for fabulous views of Mt. Washington from Pinkham Notch and gorgeous flowing waterfalls and rock formations.
For full vacation planning resources, call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH 9800-367-3364). To plan your scenic New Hampshire getaway, go to www.VisitNH.gov.