Leaf peepers will not be disappointed as roads have re-opened & scenic foliage drives offer excellent photo opportunities
Check out these great scenic drives for ideal foliage photo ops
North Conway, NH: Flooding from Hurricane Irene may have closed roads to the Mt Washington Valley temporarily, but NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT) crews have been working overtime to re-open roads. In an impressive effort, the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) connecting Conway to Lincoln, NH reopened last weekend, six days ahead of the original schedule. Visitors using I-93 for access to the White Mountains can now easily reach Mt Washington Valley.
Additionally, the hurricane closed a section of Route 302 between Crawford Notch and Bartlett when damage to the Sawyer River Bridge near Bartlett made the road impassable and parts closer to the notch were washed out. The road has now re-opened to “local” traffic on the Crawford Notch end with a signal allowing traffic to move over the affected area on an alternating lane basis. “Local” refers to anyone staying at or working at the inns, lodges and hotels along upper Route 302, plus residents. Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce has learned that Route 302 will be fully opened by Friday, September 16, or shortly thereafter. For updated information on road conditions, visitors are encouraged to call 800-367-3364 or 603-356-5947.
Meanwhile, Mother Nature has no intention of leaving allowing Hurricane Irene’s fury to impact fall color in Mt. Washington Valley, and NHDOT crews are working round the clock to insure that leaf peepers can view fall foliage as they have in past years. Consider any of these scenic drives for your upcoming Mt Washington Valley leaf peeping getaway.
West Side Road From Route 16 North in Conway, with an outlet in North Conway Village onto Route 16, or continue North to Route 302 in Bartlett. This is a popular alternative to the Route 16 “strip” through North Conway’s business section, as it parallels that road. This country road takes you through farmland, past the White Horse and Cathedral Ledges, and past farms and farm stands bearing local produce. The Bartlett section alone is worth the trip for views across the river and the Intervale.
Cathedral Ledge Road From the North Conway-Bartlett section of West Side Road park at the top and walk out onto the ledge to see all of Mt. Washington Valley before you. This is one of those rare scenic overlooks that you can drive to!
Jackson Loop From Route 16 North, go through the Jackson, NH Covered Bridge to Route 16B. Continue as the road loops left just before Black Mountain, then goes left again down Carter Notch Road back to Jackson Village. Scenic spots include the picnic stop along Jackson Falls, and the New England Church and gazebo in Jackson Village.
Eaton/Madison From Route 16 in Conway, head east on Route 113 . You can continue south to Madison or turn left at the lake and go through Snowville. Crystal Lake with the little New England white, steepled church is one of the most often requested photos from this area. Take this scenic drive and capture your own photo to remember it by!
Kancamagus Scenic Byway & The White Mountains Trail Take Route 112 off Route 16 in Conway and follow New Hampshire’s only scenic by-way to Lincoln, NH, then through Franconia Notch onto Rt. 302 through Bretton Woods and back into Mt. Washington Valley. This is one of the only designated scenic by-way loops in the country. You’ll travel over 33 miles through the White Mountain National Forest, past waterfalls, mountain brooks and hiking trails to Lincoln Keep a watchful eye out, as this is one of the best moose-watching locations! From there, continue through Franconia Notch to view the site of the former Old Man In The Mountains. You can visit the Old Man Museum and the New England Ski Museum and other attractions, then hop on 93 to Rt. 302 and travel south through Bretton Woods, stopping for a tour of the Mt. Washington Hotel . Continue through Crawford Notch back to Bartlett. NOTE: The entire White Mountain Trail loop is anticipated to be open by September 16, with the Kancamagus Highway section open now.
Bear Notch Road Access from Route 302 in Bartlett, NH and drive over to Kancamagus Hwy or from the “Kanc” over to Route 302 in Bartlett. For some, this is considered a by-pass, for most it’s considered incredibly scenic. This is also a great location for moose-and-bear-spotting in the early morning or dusk hours.
The Notches: Pinkham Notch (take Route 16, past Jackson) and Evans Notch (from East Conway). Each both offer scenic glory and ideal picture taking opportunities. Look for fabulous views of Mt. Washington from Pinkham Notch and great hikes, beautiful pines and scenic photo ops from Evans Notch, not to mention the occasional moose spotting!
For more information on scenic drives, leaf peeping getaways and road closure information, please visit www.mtwashigntonvalley.org or call 1-800-do-see-nh (800-367-3364). Here you’ll find all the information you need to plan your memorable autumn escape to one of New England’s best fall foliage destinations.