Leaves, Mountains and Mexican Food!

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Lisa Ladd

The Kancamagus

I love the mountains as much as the ocean, especially in the fall. Taking advantage of our continued good weather, we decided to drive to the White Mountains this past weekend to catch a bit of foliage and have a day together without the usual weekend chores. 

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Leaving home Saturday morning we drove into Fairlee for a quick breakfast at the Fairlee diner, before heading into New Hampshire.  We followed route 25A to Wentworth, then continued on to Warren NH, via 118.  I first took this trip when I visited New England for the first time, and I vividly recall looking at this quaint little town, with the giant missile on the town green. Little has changed in my mind since that long ago trip in 1986, though I’m sure locals would tell me a different tale.

As we continued on our way, we noticed that the traffic was increasing.  By the time we got to Lincoln, stopping at the information/rest area, it was clear that plenty of other folks had the same idea we did.  I spotted many license plates from all over the East and plenty from Canada as well. Starting up the  Kancamagus Highway I reflected on the name, and the Indian chief who retaliated against a British major thirteen years after he had tricked the tribe and imprisoned them.  Grandson of Passaconaway, he was one of the last powerful sachems, (chief) of the Pennacook tribe.

Driving through the White Mountains on the Kanc is one of those treasured road trips that everyone recalls no matter how long ago they first drove it. I always try and bring visitors to it if possible, even if we can’t make it all the way to Conway.  Although crowded on Saturday, especially in the scenic turnouts, everyone was in a good mood, enjoying the sunshine and the breathtaking views.  But we have been on the whole stretch many times and decided to take a shortcut to another favorite notch, opting to avoid the traffic at the outlets and shops in Conway.

When you have travelled about two thirds of the Kanc, keep your eyes peeled for the Jigger Johnson campground on your left.  Just beyond the turn for this park, there is a road called Bear Notch that will take you directly to Bartlett, and my favorite notch in the park, Crawford.  This road is closed during the winter, but the rest of the year it is well worth taking.  There are plenty of spots to see the mountains as you drive along, and you feel somewhat self-congratulatory each time you miss all that bumper-to-bumper fun at the end of the Kancamagus. 

At the end of Bear Notch, turn left onto 302.  Soon you will begin to see some stunning mountain peaks, with plenty of opportunity for pulling out and walking around.  If you are a hiker, there are many wonderful trails throughout this part of the National forest. Be aware that it is also quite popular, each trailhead we passed had full parking lots and lots of spillover onto the road.  We opted to take the pond loop trail across from the Willey House Historic Site.  It was a lovely spot to do a short walk with plenty of folks picnicking and enjoying the scenery.

Continuing on 302, we passed the iconic Mount Washington Hotel.  This is still on my bucket list hotels to stay in, but even if you can’t stay there it is worth parking and taking a few photos.  We have this place to thank for the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

We decided to finish our trip by staying on route 302 and heading into Littleton, a town I have previously written about.  After walking around a bit we continued on our way and stopped in Woodsville for an  early supper at the Little Grille, for Mexican food.  This cuisine is Mexican via Brazil, but I was pleased to find some excellent choices with enough spice if I wanted it, to placate my California palate. 

If you haven’ t been on the Kanc in a while I strongly suggest you take the trip, and if you have never been? What are you waiting for?!

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