‘Tis the season for leaf peeping and this year’s show is proving to be as bright and beautiful as ever. Head to New Hampshire’s Great North Woods and White Mountains Region for the weekend to see the leaves bursting with all the shades of autumn. The Kancamagus Highway and Route 302 are always tried and true spots for leaf peepers who come from all over to see the sites along these routes. But, if you’re looking to find fall colors without the crowds, here’s a few spots.
New Hampshire’s historic Covered Bridges are always a great stop on a road trip itinerary. Each one offering a glimpse into the state’s past. The Bump Bridge
in Campton is one of the state’s lesser known bridges, but a great find none-the-less. Take Perch Pond Road to get to the bridge. It’s a quiet country road with plenty foliage to see along the way to this stop. It’s off the beaten path enough (on Bumps Intervale) that you may not encounter anyone else while you’re there.
Enjoy reflections of fall at Coffin Pond. This small but very scenic pond is surrounded by a forest of trees and during autumn the colors of the leaves create very colorful scenery in the water below. The mountain backdrop only adds to the serene setting. It’s very easy to access too, located just off route 116 in Sugar Hill. Pack a picnic lunch, sit back, and enjoy the view.
Head to Littleton for foliage with a view. The Kilburn Crags Trail
, known as “the Crags,” by locals is a fairly short hike that rewards hikers with views of town, the presidential range, part of the Ammonoosuc River Valley, and of course in fall, fantastic foliage!! The trail is about 1.8 miles round trip and takes about 50 minutes or so to get to the lookout and back. Find the trailhead off St. Johnsbury Road. Plan for a little time post-hike to explore downtown Littleton, home to some great shops and restaurants too!
Head out of Littleton on Route 135 north for a beautiful scenic drive to Lancaster. The route winds around wide open fields, farmland and rolling hills. The landscape is aglow with swatches of oranges, yellows and reds. Watch for the railroad bridge on your left. The three-span-steel structure crosses the Connecticut River and connects the towns of Dalton and Lunenburg, Vermont. You’ll find a parking area just below the bridge, making for a great place to get out and explore.
Continue on the scenic drive up Route 135 and you’ll come to another local landmark: the Mt. Orne Bridge
. The impressive structure stretches almost 300 feet, spans the Connecticut River and connects the communities of Lancaster and Lunenburg, Vermont. The one lane bridge is number 30 of New Hampshire’s 54 bridges, and similar to the others makes for a great photo opp.
Route 110 from Northumberland to Stark is a lovely drive during the fall, meandering around scenic, mountainous terrain. The road is part of the Woodland Heritage Trail
, and designated as a cultural and scenic byway. There are so many places to pull off on the side of the road and appreciate the landscape that you simply won’t have time to stop at them all. Wide expansive fields that lead to forests and mountains beyond are picture perfect scenes.
Talk about quintessential country charm! That’s what you will find in the picturesque village of Stark. This is home to one of the most photographed covered bridges in the state. The bridge and the historic Union Church make for a postcard scene in just about every season, especially during autumn.
Head to Crawford Notch State Park
for an afternoon hike. This area is an incredibly popular place for leaf peepers, but there’s a short hike that is just off the beaten path and a bit quieter than most of the trails in the park. The Saco Lake Trail is only about a half mile round trip. It takes you across wooden boardwalks and winds around the small lake offering great views from the other side.
Crawford Notch is also home to the roadside waterfall the Silver Cascade
. The 250 foot fall cascades and plunges down the southwestern side of Mount Jackson. It’s easy access attracts a lot of traffic during the fall, you could say it’s a hot spot this time of year. But it’s worth the time to stop and see it for yourself.
No visit along Route 302 would be complete without a stop to see the Omni Mount Washington Hotel. One of New Hampshire’s remaining grand hotels, with its bright red roofs and presidential mountain range as a backdrop, it’s always a perfect photo opp. It’s no surprise the scenic viewing area is usually bustling during the fall foliage season.