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Kancamagus Scenic Byway

by Philip Greenspun, 1993-1996

The Kancamagus Scenic Byway is the highest road in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It runs from Lincoln to Conway and carries you through what would be wonderful scenery if only the mountains weren't so high and therefore covered completely in pine trees rather than deciduous trees. Actually, some of the more intimate areas off the Kanc are very nice, sometimes no more than a 5 or 15 minute walk from the car.

Sabbaday Falls

I haven't got pictures to show, but it is worth the short hike....

Rocky Gorge

A lake just above Rocky Gorge, off the Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire The eastern section of the highway follows the Swift River which cuts an interesting rocky gorge through the hills. One part of this rocky gorge has been helpfully named "Rocky Gorge" by the National Park Service. Stop in the parking lot on a cloudy day, park your tripod on the bridge, load the Rollei 6008 camera with Ektar 25, mount the 250mm lens, and fire away. It is that simple (photo at right). If you walk for two more minutes into the woods, you come to a beautiful lake. I set up my Canon EOS-5 quickly on a tripod and managed to surreptiously grab a few frames of Fuji Velvia with the 70-200/2.8 lens.

Franconia Notch

This isn't really a part of the Kancamagus, but starts in the same place (Lincoln, NH) and runs for about 10 miles north on Interstate 93. There is a parallel bike path for touring the Notch, which is essentially one big state park.

The images at left and right are from The Flume, narrow granite rock bed in which a stream plunges about 60 feet.

The Flume, Franconia Notch, New Hampshire At left is yet another Flume photo. A little farther north, we find the Basin (right). Actually this is only one of the streams feeding the Basin proper, which is kind of a granite toilet bowl. Rollei 6008, Fuji Velvia, Zeiss 50mm lens, f/22 and 2 seconds.

You can also find The Old Man of the Mountain, a rock formation that interested Hawthorne enough to write a short story.

Glen Ellis Falls

About 20 miles north of Conway, NH on Route 16.

Return to the foliage guide index page

This free service is made possible by the generosity of Boston Photo, which scanned the images presented here, and Hewlett-Packard, whose FlashPix technology will let you optimally view and print these images (and whose servers power this 20 hit/second Web site). Text and photos copyright 1993-1996 Philip Greenspun

Article created 1993-1996

Readers' Comments

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-- -- , November 11, 1997; 08:57 A.M.

The Kancamagus highway has to be one of the most beautiful rides one can travel on. The winter views are spectacular. With ice and snow covered mountains, one feels as if you are gliding through natures own shimmering glass shop. The winter foliage takes your breath away.

Pete Su , August 04, 1998; 09:06 A.M.

We used to drive this road from Dartmouth College out to the L. L. Bean store in the fall when I was in graduate school. In the right light, there isn't better foliage anywhere. But, if you are going to take that fall trip, be very careful driving through here, as there is a fairly large moose population, and several car/moose accidents per year. Moose are big. The last time we were on the Kamcamagus, we saw a Honda Accord that had just been crushed and totalled by a moose.

Frank Altamura , August 13, 1998; 10:38 P.M.

The Kancamagus Highway is a great road. Although I rode it during summer, not fall, the scenery is still fantastic. I was with a group from the International Brotherhood of Motorcycle Campers on a ride from Cornish, ME on a loop which included this made-for-motorcycles road. Heed the advice about moose... if you hit one they tend to come through your windshield because they're so tall.

Scott Moran , July 16, 1999; 11:33 A.M.

My girlfriend and I have spent many hours, and My isuzu Trooper many miles on this road. I need to say that the Kancamangus Hwy is by far a wondereful resource, for virtually anyone. Leaf peepers, x country skiers, drivers, anyone. I highly reccomend this road. There are many campgrounds along the road where you can stay for about 14$ a night. The Covered Bridge campground is the best of these. Anyway, definetly check this road out. And watch out for the moose! There is a White Mountain server that has a great section about this hwy. it is at: http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/whites/

Gordito Boddington , August 01, 1999; 03:25 P.M.

I live in Franconia and I recomend that you visit the Basin in the spring. The snow melting causes floods that make the rivers amazing. It might not be as classicly beautiful in the spring before the trees bloom but the floods make for incredible pictures. Because of an ice storm most of the trees along the Kanc between Lincoln and North Conway do not have tops. Once again, not classicly beautiful but it makes for very original photos.

Brian Snow , September 06, 1999; 09:58 P.M.

I recommend to anyone that is pessimistic about the beauty of the outdoors in America (what's left of 'em) or to anyone that feels as if their life is losing meaning to spend time on The Kancamagus Highway. It is the definition of pristine wilderness. The secrets that the thousands of acres hide are for everybody to discover. Chances are, with perseverance, you will be able to find a place that time seems to be suspended and reintroduces something to you that you may have lost or perhaps opens your eyes to something that was right in front of your face all along but never thought twice about. Either way, I am sure that your life will be changed in some way by the magic of this enchanted land. tread lightly, Brian Snow bsnow@mail.endicott.edu

Kelly Silvano , March 17, 2009; 10:55 A.M.

Worth the Trip

I went on a fall foliage expedition in October of 2008 and took some amazing pictures of this area. I didn't however see any moose. I was told that the moose typically don't come out till the spring, so I'm heading back in April.

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