There is no question that 2020 has been an interesting year, but there is one thing that we can count on, and that’s another beautiful fall foliage season in the Western White Mountains. Peak foliage is just around the corner, and you’ll want to start planning all your favorite fall activities. Hop in your car and head to the mountains for some socially distant fall fun with your family.
Fall Scenic Drives
The White Mountains are home to some of the best fall foliage scenic drives in the world. There is a reason thousands of people flock to the region every year to view the incredible kaleidoscope of colors. For the ultimate White Mountains road trip, fill up your tank, grab a sweater, and lots of snacks, and hit the road.
The Multi-Notch Mountain Ride is approximately 142 miles long and will take you through the best of the White Mountains. Start your journey in Lincoln on I-93 through Franconia Notch State Park and past the former Old Man of the Mountain. Just before Littleton, take the exit to Route 302 and drive through the quaint town of Bethlehem before driving past the majestic Mount Washington Hotel. There are plenty of scenic lookout spots to stop along the way to take your selfies or photos of trees bursting with color. Once past the infamous hotel, you’ll drive through Crawford Notch with the Presidential Range looming overhead. From here, choose to take the Bear Botch Road in Bartlett to the Kancamagus Highway or drive through North Conway and stop for lunch. From Conway, turn west on to Route 112 as known as the Kancamagus Highway, which offers 34.5 miles of breathtaking mountain scenery through the White Mountain National Forest.
The Multi-Notch Mountain Ride can be broken into a weekend or done in a day. Don’t have a full day? You can just drive the Kancamagus Highway or Route 302 through Crawford Notch. Whatever route you take, it will be beautiful. Keep in mind that parking is limited in areas, and you should avoid parking on the highways or busy roads.
If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the changing leaves or views of the White Mountain National Forest from above, you’ll want to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails. Hiking is a great socially-distance fall activity for the whole family. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails throughout the Western White Mountains, there is no shortage of trails with great fall foliage views. For an easy hike for the whole family, the Lincoln Woods Trail is a flat 2.7-mile trail that meanders along the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River.
For epic fall views of Franconia Notch, take the short yet steep jaunt up Artists Bluff. For centuries, tourists have climbed the well-worn trail to the open summit on Bald Mountain. It is a popular hike, so get there early, and you may want to bring a face mask just in case. For a more challenging hike, the 8.5-mile Franconia Trail Loop will take you over the peaks of Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln, and Little Haystack for panoramic views of the White Mountains. Be sure to pack all the essentials, including warm clothes and possibly crampons, since it is not uncommon for it to snow early in the White Mountains at higher elevations.
Wine and Beer Tasting
Over the recent years, tons of breweries and wineries have been popping up across the western White Mountains making it the best destination for craft beer and wine lovers. Start your day off by winetasting at Seven Birches Winery at the RiverWalk Resort. Choose from a variety of in-house made white, red, and everything in between wine. Just a short walk across the parking lot, you’ll find One Love Brewery with their tasty German-style beers and delicious menu of pub favorites.
Discover one of New Hampshire’s original craft breweries at the Woodstock Inn Brewery. With a 30-barrel production facility on-site, you can not only taste your favorite beers but see them made. With creative Western White Mountains names like Exit 32 and Pemi Pale Ale, you find something to like. Head up I-93 and find even more breweries to try. Remember to drink responsibly.
Scenic Train Rides
Trains were once a primary mode of transportation in the White Mountains, and you can still see the remnants of old railbeds and cars throughout the region. Whether you’re a train enthusiast or just someone who wants to enjoy a scenic ride through the mountains to see the fall foliage, you have several options to enjoy. The Hobo Railroad in Lincoln offers fall foliage rides along the Pemigewasset River region. Due to the coronavirus, the train will be running on a limited schedule and capacity to ensure the safety of the public. The Mount Washington Cog Railway and the Conway Scenic Railroad are also open for fall foliage scenic train rides during the autumn months.
Hit the new mountain biking trails at Loon Mountain this fall. Last fall, Loon Mountain completed phase one of their new downhill mountain biking park. Designed and built in conjunction with Highland Trails, the downhill mountain park over two miles of trails with more to come in the following years. If you prefer flatter ground, Loon Mountain has six miles of cross-country biking trails as well. Once you’re done ripping it up at Loon, head over to the nearly 9 mile Franconia Notch Recreation Path.
Visit the Western White Mountains This Fall
Fall is a beautiful time to visit the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire. With the incredible changing colors and lots of crisp fresh air, it’s the perfect place to experience some socially-distanced fall fun. Please remember to follow all social distancing protocols and to carry all your trash and belongings out on the trail.