7 Spots for Photo Opps for Fall Foliage in New Hampshire’s White Mountains


Foliage looking out from Cannon Mountain

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.

View on top of Cannon Mountain with mountains in distance

Mountain scenery from Cannon Mountain Aerial Tram

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.

Foliage along Route 3 through Twin Mountain

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.

Biking along Presidential Rail Trail


Cherry Pond with view of Presidential Mountain Range

View of Cherry Pond with some foliage along shoreline

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!

Omni Mount Washington Hotel

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.


Crawford Notch Train Depot

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!

Silver Cascade Waterfall in Crawford Notch

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.

Exterior of Zeb's General Store in North Conway

Shelves and products inside Zeb's General Store

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.

Cupcakes in a box

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?

Madison Boulder

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.

Sunset on Lake Chocorua with Mount Chocorua in background

View of Lake Chocorua with the sun setting


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!

Driving Directions

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.





2020-05-12T15:44:36-04:00Tags: , , , |


  1. Pratap Penmetsa September 22, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Kris,
    We are planning to white mountains on 10/14,10/15.Will that be a good time to see peak colors this year?

    Also,just curious to know-generally how much time it takes to get into the peak foliage period from the status as of today?Can you suggest based on your experience please?


    • kneilsen September 25, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      Hi! Glad to hear you are planning a trip to NH! While it is always a bit tricky to predict when peak colors will be, historically peak foliage is around the second week in October. So you’re timing might be spot on. This year it looked as though the foliage was starting earlier than years past as we had some cool weather in the beginning of September, but since then we have had a streak of hot, humid days which has certainly slowed the change in the color of the leaves down (at least in some areas of the state). And usually different areas of the state experience peak foliage at different times. Generally the northern part is first to change and then it progesses south. Hope that helps!

  2. Marc F October 12, 2017 at 4:59 am

    We like to plan a trip next year to see the foilage. What dates does this typically happen. This year being an exception. Oct 15th 2018 would we be too early or too late to see the foilage.

    • kneilsen October 12, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Hi Marc, Thanks for checking in. While it is difficult to predict when peak foliage will happen each year, historically it happens around Columbus Day Weekend, which is around mid-October. That said, different parts of the state change colors at different times. Usually the Great North Woods has more early color, and it continues to spread to the southern part of the state. I would think if you were planning a visit, maybe the second week in October might be a good option. But again, it depends on what part of the state you’re visiting. Hope this helps!

  3. Prerna October 23, 2017 at 1:19 am

    I am planning a trip with my family in next week to see fall colors in new england by 27th october. Do you think we will be able to see red and orange leaves.
    Can you suggest please.

    • kneilsen October 23, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Hi, the foliage is starting to move past peak in some areas of the state, but I would suspect you would be able to see some of the colorful leaves in the southern to central areas of New Hampshire, perhaps the Monadnock Region, the Seacoast area, the Lakes Region or the Merrimack Valley Region. Wishing you a wonderful trip!

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