The calendar now officially says fall, but it seems Mother Nature isn’t letting go of summer. After cooler temps earlier this month, and what appeared would be an earlier than usual start to the foliage season, the warmer weather has returned which seems to be slowing the annual transformation of all those lovely leaves. Even still, we did find some peaks of color popping out around the White Mountains.
Getting up in elevation always gives a great perspective of the landscape, so we decided to start our trek this week in Franconia Notch State Park at Cannon Mountain. In a less than ten minute ride you’re at 4100 feet. WOW what a view! On a clear day you can see the mountains in four states and even into Canada. It is breathtaking to look out and see for miles and miles and miles.
From Cannon, we headed up Route 3 toward Twin Mountain. What a nice drive! Foliage is really starting to show along this stretch of road. With the mountain scenery as a backdrop it’s just beautiful.
In Twin Mountain we took a slight detour north to Route 115 and Jefferson and the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge. I’ve heard a lot about this spot, and thought this would be a great time to check it out, and if leaves have started to turn all the better. You’ll find the trail head off Airport Road. Follow the Presidential Rail Trail to Cherry Pond. The trail is a flat, mile and a half bike (or walk) along a wooded path. Once at Cherry Pond the view opens up to reveal an awesome view of the Presidential Mountain Range. The trees around the pond are on the cusp of changing colors, once they do this will be a spectacular spot for foliage viewing!
On the road again, we headed back to Twin Mountain and up Route 302. This takes you by the Omni Mount Washington Hotel. I just can’t pass by this iconic spot without stopping for a photo opp.
As we continued up 302, we entered Crawford Notch State Park and wanted to make a stop at the scenic and historic Crawford Train Depot. There are hiking trails you can access nearby and Saco Lake is right across the road. The station is located at the top of the Notch, and Conway Scenic Railroad still makes runs through here on a regular basis. Once the leaves here usher in autumn, the foliage should be spectacular. Consider taking a train ride – it’s a fantastic way to see fall foliage!
Just down the road from the Depot, is the Silver Cascade. This is one of about ten waterfalls around the Crawford Notch area. It’s an incredibly popular photo spot during the fall because it’s so accessible. You can see it from where you park your car, but if you go beyond the roadside view and climb up alongside on the trail, you can get really close to the falls for an even better perspective.
From Crawford Notch we continued down 302 to Route 16 and North Conway. The color still has a ways to go along this route. While in North Conway, we thought it was a good time to take a break and explore some of the local shops, starting with Zeb’s General Store. If you haven’t been to Zeb’s, what are you waiting for? And if you have, you know what I’m talking about. Poke around the more than 7,000 items. Many New Hampshire and New England made product are sold here. All of them served up with a hearty helping of nostalgia.
Before getting back on the road we wanted to get a shot of sugar for the last leg of our trip. So we made our way here to White Mountain Cupcakery. I always try to stop here when I’m in town. There are so many fun flavors it’s always hard to decide what to get. PS – did you know these guys won cupcake wars?
We headed south on 16 from Conway to Route 113 in Madison. Talk about being bowled over by the Madison Boulder! I have seen many pictures of this massive rock, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. This glacial erratic is among the largest in the world – measuring 85 feet in length, 23 feet above ground and 37 feet wide. Wow.
From Madison we headed back to Route 16 so we could wrap up our day here, at Lake Chocorua. Talk about a perfect photo opp with Mount Chocorua as the backdrop. What a beautiful ride around the region. As far as the foliage goes, the Western White Mountains is definitely further along with its color thus far. But if Mother Nature turns down the heat just a bit, expect to see the leaves turn up the color. I’m including driving directions to the route we took (see below) and just a reminder to follow @LiveFreeWithKris on Facebook and Instagram for updates throughout the fall season. Until next time Live Free With Kris!
Starting at Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park, head up Route 93. Take exit 35 to Twin Mountain and follow Route 3. At the intersection of Route 3 and 302, stay straight on 3, heading north to Route 115. Take 115 until you come to Hazen Road on the left. Hazen Road turns into Airport Road. Once on Airport Road you will come to a small parking lot on the right – this is access to Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge. Once you’re finished here, back track just a bit to the intersection of Routes 3 and 302. Turn left onto 302. Stay on Route 302 where you’ll pass by the Omni Mount Washington. Continue on through Crawford Notch, and onto Bartlett eventually coming to Route 16 and North Conway. From Conway, head south on 16 to Route 113 in Madison. Follow 113 to Boulder Road which will be a right hand turn. From here continue down Route 113 through Madison until it meets up with Route 16 again. Head up 16 North and you’ll come to Lake Chocorua on your left.