Four friends take a road trip through New England to admire the region’s stunning fall foliage. Click here to read our blog from the beginning.
Photo: Wentworth Golf Club from Highway 16, Jackson, New Hampshire
A Desirable Pothole
After enjoying a free hotel breakfast, we left the town of Lincoln and drove north on Interstate 93 into Franconia Notch State Park. We first stopped at the parking lot for a waterfall known as The Flume, but unfortunately found that the trail was closed.
We drove a bit further north to The Basin, where we parked and did a short half-mile hike to this unique pothole in the river that has a gorgeous mini waterfall and shapely rocks. We then hiked another half mile south on Cascade Brook Trail to get some nice creek views before returning to the car.
Up A Hill & Along a River
We exited the interstate on Tramway Drive and parked at the Bald Mountain Trailhead to do a steep 1.5 mile hike up to Artists Bluff. From the top, we got a beautiful panorama of Echo Lake and Cannon Mountain. Unfortunately, the foliage wasn’t as striking as we had experienced in Massachusetts and Vermont – we seemed to be past the peak period and many trees had shed all their leaves.
After relaxing for a bit, we hiked back down and took the interstate north to Highway 3 East. After 10 miles, we turned right onto Highway 303 to stay in the White Mountains. Here, the drive became especially beautiful as we entered Crawford Notch State Park and passed some of the White Mountains’ most stunning peaks like Mt. Willey and Mt. Jackson. Much of this portion of the highway paralleled the tranquil Saco River – we stopped at several turnouts to take photos and relish the serenity of the area.
Over a Bridge & Up Another Hill
After 30 miles, we made a left turn on Highway 16 and soon entered the town of Jackson, which featured a beautiful old-school red covered bridge on the right side of the highway. Just north of Jackson, I spotted another adorable covered bridge that went over a creek and into a golf course.
After 10 more miles, we stopped at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center which sits just below the highest mountain in New Hampshire: Mt. Washington. We enjoyed a quick cafeteria-style lunch and then crossed the highway to do the Square Ledge Trail about a mile up a steep hill to get an excellent view across at Mt. Washington. The hike actually took us on a short portion of the famous Appalachian Trail for a few minutes. We sat on a boulder at the top for a few minutes to take it all in.
We hiked back down and drove back south on Highway 16, making a quick stop to see gorgeous Glen Ellis Falls just off the highway.
So. Many. Colors.
We made a left onto Highway 303 and made it to North Conway, the town in which we were spending the night. We first drove up to Cathedral Ledge Lookout, which provided an incredible birds-eye view of the sea of yellow, orange, red, and green trees in the surrounding area. We then drove south on Highway 16 to the town of Conway, where we made a right on Highway 113 and then another right on Highway 112, the Kancamagus Highway, renowned as New Hampshire’s most scenic byway.
After 7 miles of driving through enchanted forest, we stopped at Albany Covered Bridge which crosses over the Swift River. We went down by the riverside to play with the rocks and take some photos in front of the bridge; then, we crossed the bridge and had a full-on photoshoot in this fall foliage wonderland.
After 3 more miles on the highway, we stopped at Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. This series of rapids right by the road was a tranquil sight to see; we then crossed a bridge over the river and did a short walk up a hill to Falls Pond, a silent body of water that was super peaceful. Yet another stunning place that we had completely to ourselves!
Driving Next Door
Back in the car, we drove a few more miles west until it started getting dark and we turned around and drove a half-hour back to North Conway, where we checked into the Briarcliff Motel, a simple roadside lodge that was once again the cheapest in town 😄
We looked up places to eat and found that was nearby that looked fun called Muddy Moose Restaurant. It was bitterly cold, so we opted to drive; once we got in the car and onto the highway, we realized that the restaurant was literally next door lol. We enjoyed traditional American fare in a cabin-like setting; but unfortunately, they didn’t have too many veggie options for our vegetarian friend 😡
Click here to go on to the Fall Foliage Day 4: Acadia National Park blog as one of us gets attacked by a vicious animal at the highest point on the East Coast.