Saturday, October 6, 2012

Take a Hike: Along the Kanc

It's peak foliage season in northern parts of New Hampshire and Maine, and one of the most beautiful places to visit, IMO, is along the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.

The Kanc is a 34.5 mile scenic byway through central New Hampshire.  The road winds through evergreen and broadleaf forests and along flowing streams, and rises to an elevation of 3000 feet over Mount Kancamagus. There are numerous scenic pull-outs with amazing views as well as miles of hiking trails, small waterfalls and even covered bridges. An amazing nature experience!

So, Friday morning we packed up a hearty lunch cooler, filled water bottles, laced up our Bean hiking boots, and headed out for a day-long "leaf peeping" road trip. 

But it turned out to be a day of waterfalls!

Our first stop was Sabbaday Falls. A quick 1/3 mile walk in on a wide, tree-lined trail and you're at the falls. It's cool, damp and slippery! Sugar Maple and I enjoyed the antics of a chipmunk on the return trip.

Our next stop was the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. Rocky Gorge was SUPER busy and even finding a parking spot was difficult. We didn't stay long and skipped the 1 mile hiking loop. But it did have beautiful views!

We stopped at Lower Falls for a picnic lunch and lots of wet fun! We've been here a few times on past drives and it's always a favorite. Although the falls aren't impressive, the Swift River with its shallow pools and smooth rocks is an endless supply of explorations and we stayed for a few hours. Balsam Fir ended up slipping into the water while wading and got soaked. He took FULL ADVANTAGE of his "wetness"! ::wink:: Lower Falls is just one of those nature spots that the kids never seem to tire of.

But we saved the best for last! After meandering through the rest of the Kanc and finding side roads around heavy "leaf peeper" traffic, we found Diana's Baths in Bartlett, New Hampshire. Diana's Baths are a series of small waterfalls, shallow bowl-shaped wading pools and a rocky gorge in the middle of the forest. It's a popular spot in the summer and with school groups, but we arrived later in the day and only a few families were there. There was lots of opportunities for "bouldering" (i.e. climbing rocks) and wading in the icy water, and if we weren't getting tired and hungry, I think we could've spent HOURS and HOURS exploring!

After dinner at 99 in North Conway, we finally headed back home. Unfortunately, traffic was backed up for MILES heading into Maine for the Fryeburg Fair. White Pine was able to use my Tom Tom and plot a route through side roads to get us around it, but it still took about 45 minutes to go 2 miles to reach a road that would work. ::sigh:: We were quite amused to see a man jump out of a car in front of us, walk to a gas station and then return with refreshments for his friends in the car...and we had only moved about 100 feet. We hit the road at 8:30am and arrived home at 7:30pm. Phew! But what a great day of exploring!


  1. Beautiful! I love fall in Maine, and your exploring day looks like my family's idea of a perfect one! I guess at these times I'm on the wrong side of Maine. :)

  2. What great pictures! We've had wet weekends lately, but I want to fit in a hike soon while the foliage is so nice.

  3. Looks beautiful!! It has been years since we've been to Kancamagus, which is shame since we just sold our house in NH a year ago, lol!


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