27 Jul

The Kancamagus Highway, White Mountain National Forest

The Kancamagus Highway, better known as the Kanc, is a 34.5 mile stretch of road that runs through the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. We had heard from some folks that it was a lovely drive, but honestly it wasn’t at the top of our list of things to do while staying near Lincoln. Scenic car rides can be a tricky proposition with three young kids. We can experience heaven on earth if all three decide to fall asleep and let us peacefully gaze out at the magnificent landscape. Or we might endure a nightmare with a screaming baby and whining boys. Roll the dice, toss the coin…you get it.

Luckily the weather encouraged us to take this drive, as it ended up being one of our favorite spots in the White Mountains.

We had just finished a misty hike near Cannon Mountain when the rain started to come down a bit more earnestly. So we picked up this map from the visitor center and took the gamble that our tired boys would conk out for the hour plus car ride. 

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They did. Praise be.

We drove the entire length of the Kanc, starting in Lincoln and ending in Conway. The boys woke up at about the time we turned around, so on the way back we pulled off at various overlooks…

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…and then parked and walked down a few paths to falls and ponds.

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The best part about this highway is that you can experience it on many different levels. If you only drive through, the scenery is still stunning and the quiet remoteness is overwhelmingly peaceful.

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Or you might choose to do what we did and enjoy some of the shorter walks at Lower Falls and the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area.

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However, If you want to explore the area more thoroughly, there are six campgrounds to stay at in the National Forest. There are also day-long hikes that people rave about, such as the one out to Sawyer Pond. That is at the top of our list when we return to the White Mountains.

Finding a place like the Kancamagus Highway is like finding treasure when you are a family traveling with young children. You can enjoy a piece of gold or two now, but you can also imagine all the possibilities for when the kids are a bit older, or for when you are traveling on your own.

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So when the ‘weather’ arrives (and it will) during your trip to New Hampshire, we highly recommend rolling the dice and taking a drive down the Kancamagus Highway. Bring your rain gear. You might not be able to stay in the car for long.

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