We woke up at the usual time and got ready to begin our day of driving the American Scenic Byway–Kancamagus Highway and White Mountains Trail. The “Kanc” is the first 34.5 miles of the drive. The White Mountains Trail is the complete 100 mile round trip through the White Mountains National Forest. Along the length are hiking trails, stunning overlooks, waterfalls, covered bridges, and numerous campgrounds. We couldn’t wait to get started. We left the campground at 9:30 and headed out on the “Kanc”. Our first stop was the 120′ Albany Covered Bridge, built in 1858.
From there, we went to Lower Falls.
We parked and took the short walk along the path to the falls where people were swimming in the icy cold water.
It looked like fun, but I wasn’t brave enough to try. Continuing on, we stopped at Rocky Gorge.
Here the Swift River was cascading over the rocks. During the glacial period over 25,000 years ago, a great ice sheet more than a mile thick moved over this area. The mass of ice was so powerful it moved both large and small boulders. As the ice sheet retreated, these boulders were left behind.
We stopped at Sugar Hill Overlook to take a peek. The road was beautiful through the White Mountain National Forest.
As we traveled along the “Kanc”, we reached Kancamagus Pass (elev. 2855 ft.) From here, the road descended into the town of N. Woodstock. This is a major resort area from as early as 1870.
We drove north to Franconia Notch State Park. Franconia Notch State Park is located in the heart of the White Mountains National Forest. Franconia Notch (pass between two mountain ranges) is a spectacular mountain pass which extends from the Flume Gorge in the south to Echo Lake Beach to the north.
Once we entered the park, we parked the car and paid our admission which included a bus ride to the base to Boulder Cabin.
The bus picked us up at the Visitor’s Center and drove through the Flume Covered Bridge. This picturesque covered bridge is one of the oldest in the state. It was built in 1886 and is the most photographed covered bridge in the state.
The bus took us to Boulder Cabin where it dropped us off. From there, we continued to follow the Flume Path uphill through the Flume Gorge for 3/10 of a mile. We first passed the rushing waters of Flume Brook that exposed a large outcropping of rock. Table Rock is a section of granite that is 500 ft. long and 75 ft. wide.
We continued our slow ascent on the boardwalk that ran along the side of the falls.
The boardwalk allowed us to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns, and mosses found here. The noise of the falls was deafening as we climbed higher and higher towards the top.
At the top of the Flume, we got a close view of Avalanche Falls. The 45 ft. waterfall created such a roaring sound that it was difficult to hear as the Flume Brook entered the gorge.
The volume of water flowing down the rocks was immense…clear and cold. We walked across the footbridge to get a better look at the falls and gorge from the top. It was awesome!
From there, we took the path back to the Boulder Cabin where we were picked up by the bus and returned to the Visitor’s Center about an hour later. Flume Gorge is a marvel of nature!
About 2 miles from Flume Gorge, we stopped to view The Basin. At the base of a beautiful waterfall is a granite pothole 20 feet in diameter. It is believed to have been eroded 25,000 years ago while the North American ice sheet was melting. The Basin has been smoothed by small stones and sand, whirled around by the Pemigewasset River.
Our next stop in the Franconia Notch was to see the Old Man of the Mountain, known as the “Great Stone Face”. The Profile was a natural rock formation that was formed by a series of geological happenings about 200 million years ago. It hovered 1,200 ft. above a lake. The “Old Man” was made of five separate granite ledges arranged horizontally to form a man’s profile. From chin to forehead, it measured 40 ft. high and was 25 ft. wide. On May 3, 2003 the Old Man of the Mountain collapsed during the night. This is what it looked like before the ledges collapsed.
This is what it looks like now after the rocks collapsed and fell away.
We continued on our loop drive towards Crawford Notch and Crawford Notch State Park. We passed by the Conway Scenic Railroad Station. The train was about to leave the station as it made its way back to Conway. We waited for the train to pass over the tressel built into the side of the mountain as it continued on its way.
From there, we drove through Crawford Notch. This is the entrance to Crawford Notch State Park, 6 miles of beauty in a mountain pass. Above the road is a natural rock formation known as the Elephant Head.
As we neared the end of our loop today which brought us back to N. Conway, we caught another glimpse of the theme motel, Adventure Vacations. Each room has a theme as you can tell by the outside of each part of the building. There are 17 themes from log cabin to motorcycle madness and each room is decorated to reflect the theme.
Traffic in N. Conway was backed up all the way into town. There were people everywhere. We made a quick stop at the grocery store for a few items and headed back to the campground. Back at the campground we hung out until dinner. We ate a later dinner, since we had lobster rolls for lunch that I made for us to take along. After dinner, Auggie and I took our usual evening walk. We watched a movie and the Olympics as it started to rain lightly. We called it a night around 11:00 and went to bed after a very busy day.
Note: We did see a moose today (at the Visitor’s Center) and this cute little motorcycle trailer in one of the overlooks.