Each year In the fall, New England attracts millions of travelers to view the stunning colorful foliage as it peaks in October. One of the best scenic drives to experience spectacular color is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire. This 34.5mile stretch of road runs east and west through the White Mountain National Forest in northern New Hampshire. Actually, the Kancamagus is part of the larger White Mountains Trail, which is 100 miles long.
Locals lovingly refer to this National Scenic Byway as “the Kanc,” and always recommend it as one of the top drives for amazing color during the Fall foliage season. Beginning at Conway, NH, at the junction of highways 112 and 16, this scenic byway, which is actually part of Route 112, runs west to Lincoln, NH, where Highway 112 meets Interstate 93. Breathtaking views await you at the various scenic overlooks and hiking trails along this route.
You will definitely be able to appreciate the elevation changing as you drive along this beautiful road, and about halfway through, you will reach Kancamagus Pass, which is the highest point at 2.860 feet elevation. The highway follows the route of the Swift River, which you can see from some of the various scenic overlooks.
Rocky Gorge Scenic Area is about eight miles from Conway and you can take a path down to the river from this spot. Along the way you will traverse a wooden footbridge, from which the views are even more incredible.
About halfway through the drive, you will come to the Sabbaday Falls turnoff, at mile 19.5, and if you walk less than half a mile from the parking lot, you will discover a three-tiered waterfall, that is a photographer’s dream. There are also restrooms and a picnic area here. Numerous other overlooks exist with scenes of mountains and hiking trails, and for more information, click here.
While driving through the mountains or hiking along one of the paths, you have a good chance to view wildlife up close. This area is known for moose as well as black bears, and you will come across several moose crossing signs. You are most likely to spot a moose at dusk or at night, although they can appear at any time and their movements are unpredictable.
For bird enthusiasts, the peregrine falcon resides here, along with the blue-gray gnatcatcher, both endangered species. Keep your cameras handy.
The White Mountain National Forest Visitor Information Center in North Woodstock, near Lincoln, has a lot of information on the natural attractions along the byway. At the other end in Conway, there is another visitor center at the Saco Ranger station, along with restrooms and additional informational brochures.
Have a great trip.