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First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

Hoffman Estates
posts: 283
reviews: 3
First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

Hubby and I are doing a road trip from Chicago over to Bar Harbor and then going over to the White Mountains area. We are leaving in two days and we are all routed out for the most part but I was hoping for some advice on two different options for routes through the White Mountains. We will be coming in from Gorham and heading south (aiming eventually for I-93). Given that, which route below are we better of taking?

Route 16 south to 112/Kancamagus Hwy and then taking that over to I-93?

Route 16 south to 302 onto 3 (Daniel Webster Hwy) and over to I-93?

Is there another route instead that we should be considering?

We’d love to do some stopping along the way but we are completely unfamiliar with this territory. I keep hearing about Jackson and North Conway and from the map it appears that if we stay on Route 16 to Kancamagus Hwy, not only will we be on some beautiful roads, but there are also “things to do” in both Jackson and North Conway, as well as more hotel selections should we decide to stay over night (which I think we might be doing). But then on the other side of opinion, I hear Crawford Notch State Park is beatiful and if we don’t hook over to 302 we probably won’t encounter that, correct?

Also, I have heard from people that Mt. Washington a place we definitely need to go to. I’d love to take the drive up to the summit if that is highly recommended. From what I can see on the map, we can get to there by staying south on Route 16 and turning onto the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Is this correct? If so, how long does it take to drive up there and then drive back down? While I hear there are no guard rails on the road and that it can be a little scary, I’m not overly concerned. We’ve driven The Road To Hana in Maui, which is about as nervewracking as it gets! LOL But I know….caution on ANY mountain road needs to be taken.

We would love to see some beautiful waterfalls, scenery, covered bridges, LIGHT hiking/path walking, stroll through some cute small towns, etc.

Thanks so much for any information you can give to me!!!

Baltimore, Maryland
Destination Expert
for North Conway
posts: 11,592
reviews: 43
1. Re: First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

Kanc and 302 are your only options to go east/west. Pick one. You have figure it out. views are great either way.

Waterfalls- Glen Ellis, just past Pinkham Notch. Sabbaday Falls on the Kanc

Yes you should drive up MW if you are comfortable with very narrow roads. You should figure a couple of hours for the round trip. Jackson village and falls are a must see. the Northern section of NC is quaint and south end is more commercial with outlet shopping. Hope this helps

Hoffman Estates
posts: 283
reviews: 3
2. Re: First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

Thanks! I'm pretty sure we're going to do the Kanc instead of the 302.

posts: 1,791
reviews: 1
3. Re: First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

I'd take the Kanc as well. Make sure you stop at The Covered Bridge and The Lower Falls. Lots of walks and easy hikes.

When you go thru N. Conway, I'd suggest a drive up to the top of Cathedral Ledge. Takes about 5 minutes up and you walk over to a sheer cliff (maybe 500ft or so) and views back down into N. Conway.

Since you are bypassing 302, you should consider turning north on 93 when you reach Lincoln, at the end of the Kanc. Drive about 10 miles or so and you enter the dramatic Franconia Notch area. Go as far as Cannon Mtn. YOu can take the lift to the top, stop to see where The Old Man fell off the Mtn about 10 yrs back. I'd also recommend a visit to the Flume. When you reach the top make sure you walk the loop trail over to The Pool and then back to the parking lot. Also stop at the Basin. There is a fee at The Flume. The Basin is free.

These are all great attractions and sights that you would miss if you simply turn south on 93 after the Kanc. You still wouldn't see Crawford Notch or the Mt. Washington Hotel. I've driven that Kanc/302 loop over 100 times. To me, the Franconia Notch/Flume are some of the best attractions.

Finally, yes, do take the Auto Rd to the top of Mt, Washington, but check the weather first. If clear at the top, its a great view. If cloudy, wait for your next foggy day at home and make believe you are there.

Hoffman Estates
posts: 283
reviews: 3
4. Re: First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

Thank you so much Kevin!! I will definitely keep all of your great suggestions in mind!! They sound great!!

Jackson, New...
posts: 349
reviews: 104
5. Re: First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

I will disagree. Why because I can. HA! I like the 302 route through Bretton woods because I think the Mount Washington Hotel and Crawford Notch is one of the most beautiful drives in America.

But really, DO IT ALL! Old Man & The Flume Then Lincoln (Don't Stop) enter the Kanc to Conway. Stop at the lower falls and Covered Bridges. Then head straight to Jackson NH for the Night. Next Morning go to Glen and have breakfast at The Sunrise Shack then 30 min north to Mount Washington Hotel for luch and great views. Sneak In an 1 1/2 hour hike of Mount Willard. Then back to Jackson and north on 16 to Mount Washington Auto road for the Sunset Tour........


6. Re: First time to the White Mountains - grateful for advice

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