By Cliff Calderwood
This amazing trip through the White Mountains of New Hampshire
includes gorgeous views, a visit to the home of the world wind
speed record, and one of most scenic train rides in the east.
The White Mountain National Forest is a 4-hour drive north of
Boston, Massachusetts. Deep in New Hampshire, the mountains
part of the Appalachian Mountain system that covers the
United States. Within the forest park is the White Mountains
Trail, and it’s a drive that’s arguably the most scenic 100
miles in New England. Here’s a selection of my favorite stops
along the way - some of them require prior planning and are
trips in themselves.
WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST VISITOR CENTER
Most people begin the drive from the White Mountains Visitor
Center in North Woodstock on route 112 and head out on route
to the Franconia Notch area.
If you’re traveling with kids then you’ll want to pencil dates
back in this area at the Clark’s Trading Post, and The Whale’s
Tale attractions -- both in Lincoln on route 3N. At Clark’s
can see Bears, ride a steam train, climb towers, and generally
keep the young ones happy. The Whale’s Tale is a water park
with a wave pool, picnic areas, and live entertainment.
Back on the road head north towards Franconia Notch, and
shortly you’ll see the sign for our first stop - the Flume
THE FLUME GORGE
The Flume Gorge was formed over 200 million years ago when the
White Mountains were molten rock. As the terrain here cooled
quickly, softer material was forced into the fractures that
formed. These fractures wore down with natural erosion much
quicker that the surrounding granite rock -- leaving the
And so now you get to enjoy a geological wonder at the base of
beautiful Mount Liberty.
The Gorge has a visitor center where your tour starts and
one of the oldest covered bridges on the White Mountains
and some dramatic photo opportunities.
Continue to head north on Route 3 until it joins Route 302 and
follow 302 towards Bretton Woods. Here the mountains get
and taller until eventually you see the grand daddy of them
-- Mount Washington at 6,288 feet.
THE ROOF OF THE WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST...
Depending on time available, you’ve got three options for
experiencing Mount Washington: take the Cog Railway train ride
to the top, drive the auto road to the summit -- the quickest
way, or you can hike if you’re well prepared. But don’t
consider hiking to the top unless you’re in great condition
with somebody. This mountain claims lives every year - even in
the summer - as conditions in this area can deteriorate
dramatically within minutes.
And yes, it’s worth getting to the summit. On a clear day the
view is stunning. Visit the museum at the top and learn about
the day in 1934 when the highest wind speed ever recorded on
earth was taken - 231 MPH. You’ll learn why its unique
geographic position provides the mountain with the worst
weather on earth.
Now get back onto Route 302 and head south to the town of
THE CONWAY SCENIC RAILROAD
Schedule at least enough time to take the shorter valley
train, which you board in North Conway. The train rides offer
wonderful views of the scenic valleys and notches in the
The valley train is a 55-minute roundtrip, and the Notch train
is 5 hours. Both have a first-class car if you want to have a
different experience. The notch train has a dome car as well,
where you get magnificent views of the steep ravines and sheer
bluffs. The trains usually run from mid-June until
THE KANCAMAGUS HIGHWAY
Let’s finish up our White Mountains Trail tour by joining back
up with route 112 at Conway and driving back to the White
Mountain National Forest Visitor Center.
Route 112, or as its better known the Kancamagus Highway, is
the only road that runs directly east and west through the
heart of the White Mountain National Forest. This is a
road that shows off the magnificence of one of New Hampshire’s
best-loved scenic spots. From this road your vistas include
wilderness and the highest peaks in the presidential range.
During the summer and fall foliage months you’re likely to
plenty of company on your drive. But if the weather is clear
cares if the going is a little slow - this isn’t a drive to
anyway. But it’s a magnificent end to our 100-mile scenic
You’ll find a map of this scenic drive at my web site
About The Author: For more details on these and other
attractions on White Mountains vacations and to pick up your
free vacation reports go to Cliff Calderwood’s New England
Vacations site at: www.new-england-vacations-guide.com/