Scenic Road Trip on the Kancamagus Highway
Embark on an adventure of a lifetime and take a drive down the historic Kancamagus Highway that stretches across New Hampshire’s White Mountains. From serene lakes, iconic covered bridges, majestic waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas – there’s no shortage of incredible sights to behold on this road trip through the heart of the mountains.
This magical highway meanders through thirty-three miles of pristine East Coast wilderness, allowing travelers to reconnect with nature in an unrivaled setting for its beauty and tranquility. Explore the best of what New England has to offer, as you get lost winding along peaceful curves and discovering hidden surprises at every turn!
From the moment you start off on this breathtaking road trip, you’ll be mesmerized by its natural beauty and endless attractions. From roadside waterfalls to panoramic overlooks, there’s something new to explore around every corner. Along with its stunning landscapes, Kancamagus Highway provides easy access to some of New Hampshire’s best hiking trails and popular state parks.
Day 1 Start: Lincoln
One of the most popular attractions in Lincoln is Attitash Bear Peak, which boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in New England. With over 40 trails spanning two mountains, there is plenty to explore! In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Attitash Bear Peak also offers tubing and summer activities like mountain biking and hiking trails throughout the year.
Attitash Bear Peak, NH’s largest ski resort, is two mountains of fantastic snow skiing. There is plenty to do at the resort in the off-season: guided horseback rides, golfing, children’s swimming pools, and a host of events and activities.
The views from the summit of Attitash Bear Peak are absolutely breathtaking—you can see all the way into Maine and Vermont on a clear day. The resort also boasts some of the best snow conditions around; with a base elevation of over 2200 ft., early-season powder days are common here!
Stop 1: Lincoln Woods Trailhead
The first point on your itinerary, Lincoln Visitor Information Center contains materials and tips for enjoying your trip on the byway.
The center is a one-stop shop for travelers, offering information on everything from local attractions and events to accommodations and dining options. Visitors can also find maps of the area and brochures highlighting Lincoln’s uniqueness. Some knowledgeable guides are happy to help answer any questions or advise on getting around town.
Stop 2: Clark’s Trading Post
Clark’s Bears, 110 Daniel Webster Hwy, Lincoln, NH 03251
Directions from Lincoln Woods: Take SR-112 southwest for 0.8 miles from Lincoln. Turn right onto US-3 [Daniel Webster Hwy] and drive for 1 mile until you arrive at the post.
- Distance from Previous Site: 1.8 miles / 2.9 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 3 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 2 hours
One of the White Mountain’s most outstanding attractions: the Clark family has personally entertained their summer visitors for over 70 years. Features include a fire station, steam locomotive, trained North American black bears, and a museum.
This 80-year-old family attraction will provide the whole gang with hours of entertainment and fun.
Everyone can enjoy thrilling rides on the Bear Mountain Rescue and Boulder Dash Coaster. Or take a ride through a 200-year-old Wolfman’s Cave! There are also live shows featuring trained bears performing tricks such as basketball and gymnastics. In addition, visitors can explore White Mountain Central Railroad or bravely face off in laser tag! Plus, there are plenty of great food options around the venue.
The best part? You get all this excitement without breaking your budget – tickets start from only $19.99 per person!
Stop 3: Loon Mountain Ski Resort
Directions from Clark’s Trading Post: Leaving Clark’s Trading Post, take US-3 south for 1 mile. Turn left onto SR-112 and drive for 3.4 miles until you arrive at the resort.
- Distance from Previous Site: 4.4 miles / 7.0 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 6 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 5 hours
Spend the bulk of your first day at Loon Mountain, a recreational area and ski resort.
There’s no better way to begin your vacation than spending the day at Loon Mountain, an iconic ski resort and recreational area in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. With breathtaking views and plenty of winter activities for all ages, this popular destination offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re a skiing enthusiast or just looking to explore picturesque trails, Loon Mountain has it all. Get ready for a full day of fun with their state-of-the-art rental equipment, knowledgeable instructors, and dozens of lifts that will take you to the top of the mountain! For families, there are also extra activities like tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing that offer a unique experience in the great outdoors.
Make sure you stop at Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves. This unique attraction offers hikes through a stunningly beautiful gorge with numerous natural wonders like waterfalls and towering cliffs. You can even explore dark caves by flashlight if you’re feeling adventurous! Don’t forget to pick up some fudge or souvenirs from the gift shop before continuing down the highway.
End: Lincoln, NH
Overnight lodging is available in Lincoln. This quaint town offers plenty of lodging options to make you feel right at home, whether looking for a cozy bed and breakfast or something more luxurious. Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, there are plenty of amenities to make your stay enjoyable.
From luxury resorts to budget-friendly motels, visitors can find accommodations that fit any budget and taste. There are also several Airbnb options available if you’re looking for something unique and special, with many hosting incredible views of the mountains all around. No matter where you choose to stay, be sure to wake up early each morning for a stunning sunrise over the White Mountains!
- Explore Franconia Notch State Park
- Hike to the Foot of Mount Abraham
- Visit the Loon Center and Wildlife Refuge
- Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Echo Lake Beach
Totals for Day 1
- Total Distance Traveled: 6.2 miles / 9.9 km
- Total Travel Time: 9 minutes
- Total Stopping Time: 7 hours
Day 2 Stop 1: Falls Pond and Rocky Gorge
Directions from Lincoln, NH: Leaving the resort, take the byway east for about 15 miles, then turn left to Rocky Gorge.
- Distance from Previous Site: 15 miles / 24.0 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 25 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 1 hour
Falls Pond and Rocky Gorge are two of nature’s most spectacular masterpieces. Surrounded by stunning scenery, the narrow gorge winds through solid rock, carved out over time by the ever-flowing Swift River. Here, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding area, with high cliffs of granite topped by towering pines casting a long shadow in the afternoon sun. And when the light dims, and the stars emerge, the night sky is so clear and vivid that it’s almost impossible to imagine being anywhere else.
The Rocky Gorge Scenic Area presents an opportunity to experience nature up close and personal. The rocky walls have been sculpted over millions of years, creating a rugged and majestic backdrop for any outdoor adventure. From exploring secret caves to searching for hidden treasures, there are countless possibilities to discover here. So take your time to explore this majestic landscape – you won’t regret it.
No matter what you want to do while visiting Falls Pond and Rocky Gorge, it promises to be an unforgettable experience. Whether taking a peaceful walk along the river or embarking on an epic quest, this unique destination has something for everyone. Don’t miss this chance to explore one of nature’s finest creations – you won’t regret it!
Stop 2: Lower Falls and Boulder Loop Trail
Directions From Rocky Gorge: Follow the byway east for about 5 miles until you come to Lower Falls.
- Distance from Previous Site: 5 miles / 8.0 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 8 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 2 hours
Start your journey in the peaceful town of North Conway and head south along the Saco River. You’ll trek past towering mountains, lush forests, and over trickling streams from here. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife, like deer, moose, and bald eagles soaring above. As you navigate the ever-changing landscape, you’ll come across stunning views as far as the eye can see.
The highlight of your journey will take you to Lower Falls, where you can relax amidst the thundering roar of cascading water. Take your time and soak up this majestic sight before continuing on your hike back to North Conway. With breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife, and plenty of fresh air, the Lower Falls and Boulder Loop Trail will provide an escape that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle anything life throws your way.
Lower Falls parking and picnic area is spectacular, feeling like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. The cascades of shimmering water provide respite from the summer heat – just don’t be surprised if you have to share this oasis with plenty of other adventure seekers! Find your way down to the riverbanks, and you’ll discover shutes and slides perfect for worshippers of adrenaline. Best of all, the park amenities include picnic tables, pit toilets, and a strict “no glass bottles or alcohol” policy – providing peace of mind for parents and safety for all visitors. Now all you need is a National Park parking pass, and you’re ready for an unforgettable experience during your stay at Lower Falls.
End: Conway, NH
Directions from Lower Falls: Take the byway east for about 5 miles. When you reach the junction with SR-113, where the byway ends, turn left and drive for about 1 mile to reach Conway.
- Distance from Previous Site: 6 miles / 9.6 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 10 minutes
This is the last point on the itinerary. If you have time, explore the entertainment available here. With its idyllic landscape, peaceful atmosphere, and plenty of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder this quaint little town has become a popular tourist destination.
This small town has outdoor activities, delicious restaurants, and one-of-a-kind attractions. Conquer the trails on foot, bike, ski, or snowshoe, and admire the breathtaking views of Echo Lake and Cathedral Ledge. Spend an afternoon at Settlers’ Green Outlet Village and find something special for that special someone. Then reward your hard work with a unique Maple Creemee from the local ice cream stand. And if you get tired, ride on the Conway scenic railroad and relax as you pass by picturesque farms, forests, and rivers. Make memories that last a lifetime in this charming mountain town!
Totals for Day 2
- Total Distance Traveled: 26 miles / 41.6 km
- Total Travel Time: 43 minutes
- Total Stopping Time: 3 hours
Kancamagus Road Trip Map