driving the kancamagus highway through new hampshire’s white mountains

Saturday, July 12:  This morning, Alex and I decide to take a drive up from the cottage at Lake Winnipesaukee to New Hampshire’s White Mountains.  The weather is lovely, not too hot or humid, so we figure it’s a perfect day to take some short hikes.

We start our morning by driving to Weirs Beach, a wide, sandy, public beach on Lake Winnipesaukee. A boulevard lined with arcades and vendors runs along a stretch of Lakeside Avenue, and a boardwalk fronts the lake. The Winnipesaukee Pier, which juts out into the lake from the main boulevard, was built in 1925 and was a bustling spot for many years, attracting famous big band groups.  Young people are said to congregate and party here into the late night hours.

Weirs Beach
Weirs Beach
Weirs Beach at Lake Winnipesaukee
Weirs Beach at Lake Winnipesaukee
Weirs Beach
Weirs Beach

We drive north to Conway and enter the Kancamagus Highway, a 34.5 mile scenic drive along New Hampshire’s Rt. 112. The Kancamagus Highway is now designated an American Scenic Byway for its rich history, aesthetic beauty and culture.  It is rich in history that dates back to the Indian tribes of the 1600s.

We make our first stop along a the Swift River because Alex wants to get his feet wet.  A number of people have pulled over and are enjoying the soothing sound of the river or sitting in the currents.

The Swift River
The Swift River
Alex gets his feet wet in the river
Alex gets his feet wet in the river
We find a little stream running parallel to the river
We find a little stream running parallel to the river

Our next stop is the Albany Covered Bridge that crosses the Swift River. The Albany Covered Bridge was constructed in 1857 only to be destroyed in a storm a year later. The bridge was rebuilt soon after.  The Albany covered bridge is listed in the World Guide to Covered Bridges (WGCB) as number 29-02-06 and New Hampshire covered bridge #49.

Albany Covered Bridge
Albany Covered Bridge
The Swift River under Albany Covered Bridge
The Swift River under Albany Covered Bridge
Albany Covered Bridge
Albany Covered Bridge

We drive further along the highway until we come to the trailhead for Sabbaday Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in New Hampshire. Its history, beauty and easy hike (0.3 miles each way) make it one of the most visited waterfalls in the state.  Sabbaday Falls is a three-tiered waterfall with a 45′ drop.

Along the path to Sabbaday Falls
Along the path to Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Looking down from the top of Sabbaday Falls
Looking down from the top of Sabbaday Falls
The top of Sabbaday Falls
The top of Sabbaday Falls

At the top of the waterfall, we find lots of cairns, man-made stacks of stones, placed by fellow hikers.

We walk back down the walkways built along the waterfalls to a green pool at the bottom.

From the top of Sabbaday Falls
From the top of Sabbaday Falls
Looking back up at the falls
Looking back up at the falls
Alex
Alex

The lower pool was formed thousands of years ago by the scouring action of falling water and rock.  As time passed, the falls retreated to their present location leaving a narrow gorge or flume.

Green pool at the bottom of the falls
Green pool at the bottom of the falls

After leaving Sabbaday Falls, we drive further until we find a nice lookout.

Looking out over the White Mountains from the Kancamagus Highway
Looking out over the White Mountains from the Kancamagus Highway

At the western end of the Kancamagus Highway is the Flume Gorge, near the town of Lincoln, New Hampshire.  The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. The two-mile round trip walk to the Gorge includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allows you to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here.

The Flume Covered Bridge is one of the oldest in the state. It was built in 1886 and has been restored several times.  Such bridges were often called “kissing bridges” because of the darkness and privacy they provided.  This bridge was built across the scenic Pemigewasset River.  Pemigewasset means “swift or rapid current” in the Abenaki Indian language.

Covered bridge near the Flume Gorge
Covered bridge near the Flume Gorge
stream from the Flume Gorge
stream from the Flume Gorge

Table Rock is a section of Conway granite that is 500 feet long and 75 feet wide. Over time, the rushing waters of the Flume Brook have exposed this large outcropping of rock.

Table Rock
Table Rock
Table Rock at the Flume Gorge
Table Rock at the Flume Gorge
Mossy pathways at the Flume Gorge
Mossy pathways at the Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Rainbows in the Gorge
Rainbows in the Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
Bear Cave
Bear Cave

At the top of the Flume is the 45-foot tall Avalanche Falls.  The falls were formed during the great storm of 1883, which washed away a huge egg-shaped boulder that was suspended between the walls of the gorge.

Waterfalls at the Flume
Waterfalls at the Flume
Waterfalls at the Flume
Waterfalls at the Flume

While we’re at the Flume, Ron calls to find out how our day is going.  Yesterday, he had invited us to a party this evening, where he said I could meet some fellow travelers. He thought I’d enjoy talking to them.  I might have, but the party was to be all 70-80 year old folks with no young people in attendance for Alex to talk to.  Alex wasn’t keen on attending the gathering and we wanted some time to ourselves to have dinner at a restaurant together.

I tell Ron we’re still in the White Mountains.  He says he and Betty will drop by the cottage after their party.  We continue our walk through the Flume and then drive back to Gilford, where we change clothes at the cottage and go out for dinner at Patrick’s Pub and Eatery.

Silhouette of Alex at Patrick's Pub and Eatery
Silhouette of Alex at Patrick’s Pub and Eatery

Later, Alex and I play Ticket to Ride, a favorite family game, at the kitchen table. I learned about this game when I lived in South Korea, playing often with Anna, Seth, Myrna, Maurice and other Korean friends in Daegu.

While we’re playing, Ron and Betty drop by and join us at the kitchen table, chatting away while we finish the game.  After Alex wins the game, he and Ron go out for a swim in the lake under the full moon.  I’m not good at taking moon pictures, but here’s my attempt.

Full moon over Sanders Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee
Full moon over Sanders Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee

Another lovely day in New Hampshire. 🙂