NH Foliage drives - Two through the Whites
Lorna Colquhoun | July 23. 2013 1:16PM
About five miles into the journey, the red roof of the Mount Washington Hotel slashes the mountainscape of the Presidential Range, where the namesake peak dominates the skyline. The fall colors are woven into the hillsides and there is a roadside pull off where many a photographer pause to capture the scene.
Another five or so miles down the road is the top of Crawford Notch, which brims with history. The Appalachian Mountain Club's Highland Center is on the site of the old Crawford House. It's worth a stop at the complex to get a sense of the historic significance of the notch.
There are several easy walks to take, which are not arduous. A network of trails behind the Highland Center give some nice glimpses of Mount Washington, framed in the colorful foliage. Head out 15 to 20 minutes to Red Bench, of which Julius Ward wrote in 1890 has "one of the choicest views of Mount Washington.
Without leaving your car, you can also see the Elephant Head and the tiny Saco Lake, which eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
This is a foliage drive that can last as long as there's daylight, if you stop and meander along the trails or the Saco River, or a short as a half an hour. Watch out for moose.
The Kancamagus Highway: The 34-mile Kancamagus Highway, designated as a National Scenic Byway, is one of the most popular foliage drives, which is a reason both to avoid it and enjoy it on the Columbus Day weekend. Although it can get clogged, it is a drive worth taking for the panoramic views of the Pemigewasset Valley west of the height of land.
The Kanc climbs steadily for the first half of the trip to the highest point at the 2,855-foot Kancamagus Pass. Here you can pull off at the Pemi Overlook, where a map points out the names of the visible peaks. There are restroom facilities and some picnic areas.
In Albany, there is a nice stroll along the Rocky Gorge scenic area, where the Swift River flows.
The Kanc, which is also known as Route 112, ends at Route 16 in Conway. Head north at the lights and you'll end up in the shopping district of town.