Franconia, New Hampshire
One of the most amazing things about New England is how close everything is. Driving an average of an hour and half in any direction (besides east) will get you into at least three different states. That does not exist in Texas… It takes 13 hours just to cross it! Needless to say, we’re taking full advantage of living close to so many states that we’ve never experienced before!
With fall foliage being in season, we decided we needed to make the hike north to New Hampshire to go leaf peeping. With a little bit of research (and a lot of New Hampshire state advertisements later), we decided on the White Mountains. There are loads of hiking trails, scenic beauty, bed and breakfasts galore, and of course a short enough drive to make a weekend trip feasible.
As far as hiking is considered, we’re not that seasoned, so we opted for simpler trails. If you really have lots of time to devote towards hiking, there are some good resources to help you choose! I’ll highlight them below!
We left for Franconia right after work, so we didn’t really get to do anything that evening. As I mentioned before, there are TONS of historic bed and breakfasts in this area. We opted to stay at the Franconia Inn. The property dates back to the 1800s and has a beautiful mountain backdrop. Planning tip: Call and book directly with the Inn, you’ll save $$ and can get breakfast included versus paying extra on a third-party site!
7:30am- We like to start our mornings early! (I know, you’re on vacay and you want to sleep in, but you need to get that hike in!) We grabbed breakfast in the dining room at our B&B and took off for a day of adventure!
First stop- The Flume Gorge– This part of the Franconia Notch National Park requires admission. It’s about $16 to go on the trail (money goes towards preservation). The trail is not difficult at all- and I would opt to walk the entire trail that will loop you back to the Visitor Center. They do have an option for a bus that takes you to the end of the trail where you can see the waterfalls first. The bus option makes it great for those with small children/strollers/those who can’t walk too much. The end of the trail does have a lot of stairs, so be wary if that’s an issue for anyone in your group. You’ll find some awesome looking glacial rocks, waterfalls, and interesting features like a Wolf’s Den and a Bear Cave (if you’re feeling brave enough!). It’s about a 2-mile loop around the entire trail. Be sure to pack snacks and water! (2-3 hours)
Lunch- By this point, we were ready for lunch. We hopped in the car and drove down to Lincoln (about a 15-20min drive south on I-93). Lincoln is a decent size town with lots of shops and restaurants in close vicinity. We tried the Black Mountain Burger Co. Can’t go wrong with a grilled turkey burger and sweet potato fries! (1-2 hours)
Kancamagus Highway– This stretch of highway cuts straight through the White Mountains. It starts in Lincoln and goes straight east for a good 35-40 mile stretch. We took the drive straight from Lincoln for about 20 miles before heading back towards Lincoln. Every few miles there are Scenic Lookouts- I would take your time and stop as much as you can to take in the mountains from every direction. (1-2 hours)
By this point in the day, we were pooped. We came across the Seven Birches Winery in the Riverwalk Resort (in Lincoln) and decided it was time to wine-down (HAH get it!). This little wine room is tucked away in the back of the resort and has a great balcony to overlook the sunset over the hills. You can do a wine flight for $10 or enjoy a glass for anywhere from $7-12. (1-2 hours)
Dinner- We headed back to our B&B for a little break before getting ready for dinner. While we were having our wine, we took a look at the menu at the resort restaurant, and decided that would be it! La Vista is an Italian restaurant also located within the Riverwalk Resort. Something about a hot bowl of pasta sounded really enticing given the chilly weather. (1-2 hours)
We had breakfast again at our B&B before checking out. Deciding that we wanted to be outside a little bit longer, we packed in a few short ‘excursions’ before heading home.
The Frost Place– Venture into one of Robert Frost’s country homes. The home which serves as a museum isn’t open year-round- (it was closed when we visited) but you can still visit the grounds. The AMAZING mountain view facing the front of the house is just awe-inspiring. You’ll really get a feel for what inspired some of his great poetry. Speaking of which, there’s a cute little Poetry Trail behind the house that displays some of Frost’s poetry along the way! (30min-1 hour)
Echo Lake- There’s a sandy beach around this lake which is good for swimming in the summer- but in the winter, it’s just a nice little spot to visit and take in the scenery. Standing here kind of makes you think back to your coloring days when you’d draw two mountains pointing in different directions and a lake in the middle, it looks just like that!!! (30min-1 hour)
The Basin– Looking back, I wish we had stopped here first, mainly because there are actual hiking trails here (ranging from .5-2 miles). When you get to The Basin, the paved pathway will lead you first to the Basin (this cave-like structure) that was formed by the little rivers and creeks of water coming down from the mountain. We didn’t have that much time to hike the trail since this was our last stop, but you can easily spend a few hours here! (1-2 hours)
After The Basin, we headed back to Boston. The drive back was wonderfully colorful, and it was great being able to see it all, especially since it was pitch black when we drove into Franconia.