Kancamagus Highway (AKA The Kanc) + ADD NEW ROUTE
1 in New Hampshire New Hampshire35 Miles
on October 1, 2001
- Trip Toolbox
From Lincoln, NH, simply take route 112 east to the town of Conway.
About 60 miles north of Concord you will find a kick-butt route off of Interstate 93 that travels through the White Mountains. The road is officially called the Kancamagus Highway (pronounced kank-a-mah-gus) but it is more often referred to as the 'Kanc.'
This is officially known as the highest roadway in the northeast and reaches altitudes of nearly 3,000 ft above sea level. The route is probably the most famous route in all of New Hampshire and one of the most famous in the entire northeast (particularly for fall foliage tours that feature rolling mountains that appear to have blankets of patchworks of gold, orange, red, and green). The area it drives through a gorgeous streatch of mountains in New Hampshire known as the White Mountain National Forest. The path takes you over a mountain pass and and there are many pullouts that you need to take the time and STOP & ENJOY the many diverse views (rolling mountains, river beds, thick and lush woods, etc).
This route is also especially beautiful in the spring when the area's many waterfalls are at their peak of water flow as the winter snows melt, spring flower begin to appear, and the buds on the trees start to show. On this route you'll also take in some great river views because the route follows a river called the Swift.
For more information and updates check out the Unofficial Guide to the Kancamagus Highway .
The route rides over mountains and into valleys so you'll have a lot of turns and elevation changes along the way but nothing that I would consider "twisties" ... more sweeping turns. Traffic can be an issue particularly on weekends or in "leaf peeping season" so plan accordingly.
There are 6 public campgrounds along the route. The Jigger Johnson has the most campsites (75) but the others are all fair size as well. They all include restrooms and drinking water but no electricity.
There is a New Hampshire Visitor's Center at the start of the route on 112.
Make sure you pull over at the Sabbaday Falls Picnic Area and take the short little hike (about Ω mile) to see a cool waterfall.
The Passaconaway Historic Site is named after a great Indian leader who gathered a bunch of Indian tribes together and created a confederacy to fight with the intruding 'pale-faces' (white-men). There is a really neat house at this historical site called the Russell-Colbath Historic Homestead (they say it's the only one ever built here) where there is a legend of a husband that left home one day to go for a walk. Apparently he never returned and for 39 years his wife lit a lantern and left it on the porch to help him find his way back. He showed up 3 years later after she died. You can tour the house and here more about the legend. There is also a nice little short trail that starts out at the house and goes along a little river.
Another cool place to see is the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area. Here you'll see some waterfalls and a pretty cool looking gorge.
Keep driving up (east) on 112 and stop at the Boulder Loop Trail that starts by the covered bridge. At the end of this trail you'll see some pretty awesome looking scenery that was created by huge glaciers plowing back to the north.
You can also find arts, crafts and antique shops near this route in New Hampshire.
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