Calling all mountain lovers! I am excited to share this travel guide to the White Mountains region in New Hampshire.
The White Mountains are part of the northern Appalachian Mountains and are considered the most rugged mountains in New England. I for one had no clue about this alpine terrain on the East Coast. The travel brochure for the White Mountains reads “some places have all the fun” and I quickly saw it first hand.
The White Mountains are home to 48 mountain peaks that you can hike to, has crystal clear lakes, tumbling waterfalls, and natural gorges. We spent two days exploring the area going on scenic drives, chasing waterfalls, jumping into swimming holes, and hiking to a gorge and an alpine lake. This is just a glimpse of what the White Mountains has to offer.
What to See & Do
Mt. Washington Auto Road
The Mt. Washington Auto Road is America’s oldest man-made attraction to the mountains. The auto road offers access to four unique alpine zones and is home to rare alpine flora and fauna. We lost our freaking minds here and I mean it in the most exhilarating way. You really have to see it to believe it.
Even though it only takes 30 minutes one way to get to the top, you will be driving on a narrow, winding uphill road to the summit. You can drive yourself on the narrow road or take a guided tour to the summit. Mind you, the drive can be intimidating. We had a 32 feet long RV which is not allowed on the auto road, so we took the guided tour. That way everyone could enjoy the change in scenery. Alternatively, one can also take the scenic train ride to the top on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway.
Once you get to the summit of Mt. Washington, you are in alpine heaven. It may be summer down from where we started but at the summit, it was cold and windy. We were greeted with sweeping views of mountains on all sides and the clouds put on their very best show that day.
Glen Ellis Falls
This was recommended by our Mt. Washington Auto Road tour guide and I am so grateful. This serene waterfall in White Mountain National Forest is only a few miles away from the auto road. From the parking lot, a short trail takes you to the Glen Ellis waterfall. The upper tier of the waterfall makes for a great swimming hole with a view of the mountains.
Franconia Notch State Park
Located in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch is a spectacular mountain pass. In my opinion, even though it is a state park, its beauty surely matches up to that of a national park. The Flume Gorge is a popular attraction at the Franconia Notch State Park. Stop by the visitor center to purchase your tickets and then embark on a self-guided tour of the Flume. The 2-mile loop takes you through scenic covered bridges, through the gorge and up to a waterfall, and a basin.
Echo Lake is a lovely place to spend the day with beautiful views of Lafayette and Cannon Mountain. It has a nice beach area for swimming and boat rentals.
Lonesome Lake was a last minute add-on to my trip because I really wanted to hike while I was at Franconia Notch State Park. Since it was one of the recommended hikes online, I went for it. It is a moderate hike 1.6 miles on way to Lonesome Lake, which offers gorgeous views of the Franconia Ridge.
It was so quiet and serene by the lake. The reflections in the lake were totally insane and I could just sit here for hours. I found some company while I sat by the lakeside.
Once you’ve reached Lonesome Lake, you can walk to the Lonesome Lake Hut which is a beautiful Appalachian Mountain Club hut for backcountry hikers. From here on, experienced hikers can embark onto more challenging trails, with nearby Cannon Mountain, the Kinsman Ridge, and miles of Appalachian Trail beyond. Apart from hiking, you can take a ride on the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain or visit the New England Ski Museum.
Cannon Mountain summit
Kancanagus Highway is a 34-mile scenic highway that stretches from Lincoln, NH to Conway, NH. It is well known for its Fall Foliage viewing.
A number of scenic vistas are plotted along the way offering remarkable views of the White Mountains, the Swift River, Lower Falls, Sabbaday Falls (pictured below), and the Rocky Gorge.
You can’t miss a scenic trip to the Mount Washington area. It is perhaps the most gorgeous mountain region in the East Coast with its overlooks, winding roads and spectacular surrounding views of the mountains.