Picture perfect fall scenery takes center stage in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region

The fall foliage in New Hampshire may have started a little bit later than usual due to some unseasonably warm weather in September, but the colors right now in many areas of the state sure are captivating.  We saw some incredible shades of peach, coral, red and yellow lining the roads throughout the  Lakes Region.  Come along to see the show Mother Nature has in store for you!


View of Newfound Lake and foliage from the summit of Little Sugarloaf

Walking along trail in forest

What an incredible way to see Newfound Lake, from the summit of Little Sugarloaf!  Just take the Elwell Trail, about a 15 or so minute hike up before the trail opens up to a spectacular view of one of the state’s most pristine lakes.   The trail is located on the western side of the lake, with the trailhead located off West Shore Road.  It’s accessible year round for hiking, walking and wildlife viewing! It’s also pet friendly, as long as your pet is kept on a leash.

View of Newfound Lake from beach at Wellington State Park

Another view out to Newfound Lake from Wellington State Park

If a stroll along the beach is more your style, just across the road from the trail is Wellington State Park.  Stop by, walk along the sandy shore and enjoy the peace and quiet of a crisp fall day in New Hampshire.  You might even find you have the place to yourself, a stark contrast from the very active summer season.  As the largest freshwater swimming beach of all NH State Park’s it’s very popular on summer holidays and weekends.  During summer, besides swimming, enjoy fishing, boating and nature trails too!

Roadway along lake with view of foliage

Sculptured Rocks Natural Area with rocks and waterfall

Bridge section of Sculptured Rocks Natural Area

Fall sure is looking fantastic in this part of the state, our drive from Newfound to Groton was dazzling. So many pops of color! We were in Groton to see the  Sculptured Rocks Natural Area.  I’ve never been, but heard it’s a must stop when you’re in the area, and we were indeed in the area! The area spans just over 270 acres.  I am in awe of the power of nature when I see things like this.  This was formed thousands of years ago, when the Cockermouth River carved a narrow canyon in the bedrock on its way to Newfound Lake creating really cool shaped rocks and potholes.  Definitely  awesome.

Exterior of Purple Pit Cafe in Bristol

List of menu items chalkboard inside cafe

After leaving Sculptured Rocks, we drove around the other side of Newfound and back to Bristol, all along the way enjoying the captivating colors of fall.  Once in Bristol we found the perfect place to refuel: The Purple Pit! Their Hot Mocha Nut really hits the spot on a brisk fall day.  Be sure to check their events calendar, as they offer live music in the Purple Pit Jazz Club!

Collection of decorated scarecrows in Central Square of Bristol

Close up of decorated scarecrows

Just outside the Purple Pit in Bristol’s Central Square be sure to check out the collection of scarecrows that are part of the Bristol Fall Scarecrow Decorating Contest.  Residents and businesses have created some clever creations for the annual event that’s organized every year by the Bristol Community Events Committee.

Coyote at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
Live mountain lions in exhibit trail at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

From Bristol, we made our way to Holderness to stop at one of my fav places, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.  There’s so much to explore and discover at the science center.   Let’s start with the wildlife! Bears, fox, otters, bobcats, turtles, raptors, fishers, mountain lions and we’re just getting started.  If you like wildlife, this is a great place to see it up close.  The self-guided tour takes you around the live animal exhibit trail while exploring hand-on educational exhibits.

Outside trail and exhibit area

Pond with foliage reflecting in it

While at the center explore some of the great hiking trails.   If you plan a visit during the summer months, consider checking out the Squam Lake Cruises, a great way to get out on Squam and learn about the wildlife, ecology and history of the area.

  Walking through corn maze at Beans & Greens in Gilford

Farmstand and pumpkin area at Beans & Greans

From Holderness we headed to Gilford enjoying a most colorful drive along the way! We came to Gilford to stop at Beans & Greens Farm.  Fall in New Hampshire means corn mazes and we heard they’ve carved out quite a challenging course in their corn.  This is the 15th year the folks here have been designing this fun fall event.  On average it takes about an hour to navigate through.  The maze has questions and riddles to solve and be sure to check out the cool bridges they’ve built into it. If you’re brave enough, try the haunted corn maze open on weekend nights.  Beans & Greens also has a fantastic farm stand with an amazing array of fruits & veggies, baked goods, there’s a children’s play area and barnyard animals too!

Biking along trail along lake at Ahern State Park in Laconia

Looking out at lake from shores at Ahern State Park

From Gilford, we headed to Laconia and Ahern State Park. We started our day with hiking, and thought we would end it with some biking.  Ahern has some great single tracks for more experienced riders, and double tracks for those looking to just cruise around and enjoy the lakeside views.

View from shores at Ahern State Park looking out into water

View out to lake and mountains from shores of Ahern State Park

Ahern spans about 128 acres, with 3,500 feet of shoreline located right on Lake Winnisquam.  We thought what a perfect, quiet spot to wrap up our day.  Foliage sure seems to be hitting its stride in the Lakes Region, be sure to catch this color while you can.  For driving directions to the route we took check below.  As always, be sure to follow @LiveFreeWithKris on Facebook and Instagram for updates throughout the fall season.  Until next time Live Free With Kris.

Driving Directions

From the Elwell Trail, cross West Shore Road in Bristol to Wellington State Park.  From Wellington, head northwest on West Shore Road, turn left onto Groton Road, follow it to Sculptured Rocks Road in Hebron. Leaving Sculptured Rocks, head east on Sculptured Rocks Road, toward Hardy Country Road, continue straight onto Groton Road, to North Shore Rd, then turn right onto NH-3A S, follow this road into Bristol, then turn right onto Central Square Street, and the Purple Pit.  From here, get out to NH-104 East, follow this road toward New Hampton.  In New Hampton, get onto I-93 North. Take Exit 24 off I-93, turn right onto NH-25 East/US-3 South, follow to NH-113, take that left, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center will be on the left.  Leaving the Science Center, take NH-113 back to US-3 South, follow this road until NH-11 B South.  Stay on this road and Beans & Greens will be on your left.  Leaving Beans & Greens, follow NH-11B North to NH-11 W, follow this road to Laconia, then turn right onto Elm Street.  Follow Elm Street to North Main Street/Parade Road and turn left.  Follow this road to Ahern Park Road, on the right, follow the signs into the park.

Plywood Turkey for photos with pumpkins in background










2019-02-13T16:38:27-05:00Tags: , , , |


  1. Marian Roper June 28, 2018 at 11:53 am

    We will be in New Hampshire in early – mid October this year. We are partial to Lakes and parks. Since the map we are using is from AAA and shows both Vermont and New Hampshire. It is difficult to Can you suggest a town/village we can spend about five to six days to see parks/lakes area as well a drives that can be reached for both states?
    We are impressed with your articles, thank you.

    • kneilsen June 28, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      Hi Marian,
      Thanks for reaching out. You might consider North Conway as a base to stay. There are a number of scenic drives in the Mount Washington Valley/White Mountains Region, including the nationally recognized Kancamagus Highway that goes from Conway to Lincoln. There are also a number of parks located in this area. And just south of North Conway is the Lakes Region where you will find Lake Winnipesaukee, Newfound Lake, Squam Lake and several others that are beautiful to visit. I am not sure about Vermont, so would encourage you to reach out to someone from that state to assist with your travel plans there. Also, more than happy to mail you a NH State Highway Map which might better assist you as you plan your getaway. Let me know! Best, Kris

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