Travel Guide: Fall Day Trip To Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway

Plan Ahead:

1) Track The Foliage – You can track the fall foliage with an interactive map around the state by clicking here. Interactive foliage tracker maps are available on each states website for New England. 

2) Rental Car/Gas – This is a scenic drive so a car is a must, because this highway is around 34 miles in length. Depending on the route you take, there are no gas stations or restaurants on the route from entrance to exit. It is all the great outdoors. Note: there are restrooms located on the highway. 

3) Cellphone Service – A some point, you will lose cell phone service during the drive, but fortunately, it is a straight forward drive. 

What to Pack:

Make sure to pack layers. New England fall is usually cool in the morning, warms up during the day, and then gets cold at night. If you planning on hiking or walking trails, pack appropriate footwear/gear. You should also pack snacks and water if you plan on taking leisurely time to see all the sites.  

Attractions in Kancamagus Highway and the Surrounding Area: 

Kancamagus Highway runs through the White Mountains of New Hampshire for 34 miles from Lincoln to Conway. The Kancamagus drive is all about the great outdoors and the scenery is truly incredible. This highway was dedicated as the the first national scenic byway in the northeastern United States. There are pit stops where you can park to see the scenic attractions, entrances to hiking trails, and picnic tables to enjoy a lunch with friend and family. My suggestion is to start at the visitor center. Since our drive started from Vermont, we started our day in Lincoln, NH and then ended the day in Conway, NH. At the visitor’ center in Lincoln, we were able to get a map of all the main attractions that we could stop at and leaf peep. Upon stopping at these stops, it is required that visitors buy recreation pass for five dollars that will allow you to stop and park in each attraction’s parking lot. I did see an officer writing tickets for those without car tags. Most of the stops had purchasing stations available.  Attractions most notable during our trip. 

Lincoln Woods Trailhead: This trailhead offered nature trails between a suspension bridge that has amazing views of the Pemigewasser River. This stop includes parking, restrooms, and a ranger station.  

Overlooks: Some of the overlooks include Hancock, Pemigewasset, and Sugar Hill. Each overlook has parking to pull over and see the incredible views. Each is a panoramic view of distant mountains and fall foliage. This is especially excellent if you are unable to hike. 

Sabbaday Falls: This waterfall is part of a 0.7 mile trail hike. Trail is a easy trail for all ages that leads to a waterfall with an overlook. 

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area: This scenic area is covered by towering trees and a White Mountain backdrop. You can see the river rapids running over the rocky bed and includes a 10 foot waterfall. 

Albany Covered Bridge: Built in 1858, this bridge has been renovated over the years to be restored to its original beauty. . 

Trails: Although we did not hike this year, there are amazing hiking trails for all different skill levels. I can only imagine the views during peak fall foliage. 

Conway Scenic Railroad: The last thing we did on our Fall Foliage excursion was take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad. Although it was not connected to the Kancamagus Highway, we opted in for a fall scenic excursion on the old fashion train. The train departs in a train station built in 1874 in North Conway. We chose the Barlett excursion which is a one hour and 45 minute train ride through the Saco River to Barlett. During Christmas season, a Santa Claus express is offered with an hour long seasonal train ride, and you get to meet Santa. Perfect if you have small kids. Reminder to book ahead of time limited occupancy since covid-19 and is popular during the fall season. 

Hotels:

Splurge 

StoneHurst Manor: A charming inn located in North Conway. Has stunning White Mountain scenery. Plus, all rates on website include dinner and breakfast as advertised. 

Omni Mount Washington Resort: A resort that has everything at your fingertips. Golf courses, zip lining, spa, luxury dining. Cannot go wrong something to do for the whole family. Plus, during winter horse drawn sleigh rides. 

Moderate

The Glen House: A modern accommodation with all luxury amenities. Most suites have balconies to take in the mountain peaks. 

Eagle Mountain House and Golf Club: A timeless grand hotel that was built in 1879. Endless year round activities. Offers many packages changing seasonally. 

Budget 

The Bernerhof Inn: A quaint inn with lots of character. Grounds are well kept a beautiful garden maintained. This hotel has a culinary class a 4 hour class with New England chefs for additional fee. 

Attitash Mountain Village: Centrally located at the base of the Attitash Ski Resort. Meets every outdoor lovers dream on site hiking, kayaking, fishing, ice skating, indoor outdoor pool and hot tub. 

Outfit Deets: Since you need to layer in New England no matter the season. Opted for a olive utility jacket. Perfect light weight layer to throw over a sweater. Beanie and scarf because personally I like to be warm especially since it can get chilly in the mountains.  

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