Stayed for 6 days in August , at Lafayette Campground. Outstanding place, everything was amazing. Few areas anywhere would have as many spectacular natural wonders, doubly so for an area as relatively small as Franconia. We did Echo beach, Cannon Mountain tram and observation tower trail at the top, the basin, the Flume gorge, the hike to Lonesome Lake, and the Kancamaugus scenic byway.
The Flume gorge was spectacular beyond description. The gorge is also only part whats there: there is also the golden pool (amazing in its own right) , the boulder fields, the 'wolf den' (small cave) and scenery everywhere. There's so much to look at. As an aside: if souvenirs/gift shops are your thing, they also have one of the best at the Flume center, esp. for clothing. .
Cannon mountain was also great, the tram ride was cool, the lodge up top is very cool, and then there is a trail along the edge of the mountain to an observation tower that was spectacular. A bit pricey for the tram, but no regrets.
Lonesome lake was maybe my favorite day. A steep, long switchback up the mountain (2.5 hours , with a 5 year old though) to the lake up top, around the lake, stopped at the mountain safety hut , and finshed circling the lake. The lake is gorgeous, and you hear nothing up there except the wind. You will probably notice the silence, since one thing about Franconia is the downshifting tractor trailers that echo all over the notch - its a bit noisy at times. There are some that may find the trail up is too hard - I saw people turn back at times.
We took the Kancamaugus to Conway, and this drive is just one amazing view after another. There are countless places to pull over and take pictures etc. If you have a map of the byway, near Crawford there is a pullover, where you can go down to the river, walk all over the huge boulders, the kids can play in the water. etc. again with scenery everywhere.
Also did the basin, which is more than just the basin actually, there are waterfalls and chutes in the area, and the basin is quite unique.
Echo beach, hung out there, walked up to artists bluff from the beach (trail starts across the street) and got a panoramic view of Echo lake , cannon mountain and the surrounding area. The lake is quite cold, as it is spring fed from the mountains . The kids may get a bit of a surprise if they just barrel in. Its swimmable though.
All of the above is within about a 3 mile stretch of highway, including the Kancamaugus ramp at the south end . Kancamaugus itself was about a 50 minute drive, to Conway. The outlet stores are up the road in North Conway, if thats of interest. We went, but bought nothing, weren't all that impressed with anything there.
We are family of 4 , two kids, ages 5 and 8, and there was lots to see and do. Franconia is all about scenery , more than anything else, but there are hikes, bike trails, nearby town to explore etc. Sorry for the long review, but hopefully it gives some idea of what to expect.
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