Things To Do In North Conway - The White Mountain Trail
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
Gas up the car, pack a lunch, grab your camera and head for the hills!
One of our most favorite things to do in North Conway, when we have great weather an a day to ourselves is to jump in the car and go for one of the many scenic drives in the north country.
Our most favorite route happens to be a large circle in the White Mountains, you can make it a quick four hour trip or you can make the drive last as long as you want!
Although we've taken this drive tens of times, until recently I never knew that the route had a name. I was chatting with a park ranger for the White Mountain National Forest who told me that our favorite route is called the White Mountain Trail. This popular trail is a 100 mile loop and one of the most beautiful drives in the entire state!
If you're lucky enough to be vacationing at North Conway, NH, you'll only have to drive about 4 miles to reach the Kancamagus Highway, which is where we will begin our beautiful White Mountains scenic journey.
As a North Conway local, I would suggest leaving Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch (wink) as early as you can get your giddy up on!
Leaving very early in the morning will give you your best shot at seeing either a moose, a bear or deer foraging for food along the Kancamagus (the Kanc). The best spots to see all kinds of wildlife are within the first 8 to 10 miles when you begin your journey down the Kanc leaving Conway.
The Kancamagus is also referred to as Route 112 and is a 34 mile long highway from Conway to Lincoln, New Hampshire but foliage is not the only thing it has going for it. As you make your 34 mile journey you'll pass a covered bridge, beautiful waterfalls, roaring rivers, mountain vistas and it's also a great place for folks who love to bird watch.
From Lincoln, you'll want to travel up Interstate 93 to Route 3 which will take you on a beautiful scenic drive through Franconia Notch State Park. You'll pass by the scenic and very photogenic Franconia and Kinsman Ranges, Flume Gorge, The Basin, Echo Lake, Profile Lake and the former site of the Old Man of the Mountain.
The third part of our journey takes us to Route 302 through Crawford Notch. This leg of our route will take us from Bretton Woods to Bartlett, New Hampshire. Some of the highlights of this part of your journey will be Silver Cascades, Flume Cascade, Saco Lake which is the headwaters of the Saco River, Frankenstein Cliff and you'll also get a spectacular view of Mount Washington from Crawford Notch State Park.
The White Mountain Trail is going to take you home over Route 302 which runs from Bartlett to Conway, New Hampshire. This area is referred to as the Mount Washington Valley.
If you keep your eye out you'll see that Route 302 follows the Saco River. Be sure to stop at the Scenic Vista in Glen where there is a beautiful view of Mount Washington in the local mountains. Don't forget to get a photo of White Horse Ledge, Cathedral Ledge and the Moat Mountain Range from the Scenic Vista in Intervale too.
The local's secret is the Scenic Vista in Conway on Route 16! From here you get a wonderful view of the Moat Mountain Range, local hills and you can see the Saco River as it meanders through the rural farmland in the valley below!
The long day's drive, all the walking, shopping, swimming, and photographing are sure to have left you hungry as bears! Please steer clear of all the chain restaurants in North Conway and choose instead, a member of the local restaurant group called "The Valley Originals"! Of all the restaurants in North Conway, The Valley Originals should be your first choice!
Please feel free to contact me if you have anything that you think I should add to this list of activities along the White Mountain Trail! Sometimes us locals can't see the forest for the trees and forget to mention some of the highlights for our guests from out of town.