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Fall Foliage Drives & Info in 2018 - White Mountains, the Lakes, Portsmouth


New Hampshire delivers colorful fall foliage at the earlier end of the September-to-October range. In the White Mountains, take a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112), between North Conway and Lincoln. A bit further north are the Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch state parks, where vistas are magnificent. Moose can be spotted in the Great North Woods region. In the Lakes region, crystal lakes add some blue to the view near Winnipesaukee and Squam lakes. Be sure to take a camera and pose with one of the state’s picturesque covered bridges.

fall foliage coastline NH

Getting Ready

Click here for useful information about when to visit, how to find color, and what to wear and pack.

More Resources:

Where to Drive:

Find directions and tips for great views and attractions for at the drive tours described below.

White Mountains Region


The Kancamagus Highway/Route 112 -- 34 miles

One of New England's more spectacularly beautiful drives, the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway -- known by locals as "the Kank" -- cuts an east-west channel through the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest. Views are breathtaking, so take all the time you can and don't miss a single pull off.

Kancamagus Hwy North Conway-credit-NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development

Points of Interest:


Pinkham Notch Loop -- 100 miles

`This loop drive affords some spectacular views of the Presidential Mountains and surrounding countryside, including Mount Washington. A good side trip at Pinkham Notch is a climb up the Mount Washington Auto Road, presenting one of New England's most spectacular mountain vistas.

Fall Foliage Pinkham Notch loop ATV rider at Jericho Mountain State Park in Berlin-credit-NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development

Points of Interest:

  • Mount Washington Auto Road, Route 16, Pinkham Notch in the White Mountains National Forest (603-466-3988).
  • Crawford Notch State Park, Route 302, Harts Location in the White Mountains National Forest (603-374-2272).
  • Town of Jackson and Jackson Covered Bridge is a beauty, and it resides right in the heart of the town geographically and culturally. Great for photographers and painters. A town covered bridge dance is held here every summer. This town had fun gifts shops and restaurants.

Lakes Region


Lake Winnipesaukee loop -- 75 miles

New Hampshire's largest lake presents beautiful views across the water as you meander through delightful towns and villages with famous names, including Laconia, Wolfeboro, Moultonborough, and others that convey images of a grand vacation li. The area is a premiere summer vacation resort, so there are lots of attractions and fun shopping for visitors. Not all attractions are open past mid-fall; phone ahead for hours.

Lake Winnipesaukee Loop -credit-Dan Houde

Points of Interest:

  • Mount Washington Cruises on the M/S Mount Washington from Weirs Beach (603-366-5531). Cruise this beautiful lake during foliage season and watch the glorious colors glide past you.
  • Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough. Wonderful home and garden tour at a 1920’s-era Craftsman-style mansion high in the mountains.
  • Funspot, in Weirs Beach - "The world's largest arcade" founded in 1952, featuring classic attractions & video games, bowling, mini-golf and more. Great alternative for the beach on a rainy day! (603-366-4377)
  • The Old Country Store, Moultonborough (603-476-5750). Kids and adults love to browse and buy vacation mementos at New England's genuine country stores.
  • Wright Museum of WWII History, Wolfeboro (603-569-1212)

Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region


Connecticut River Route near Lebanon Loop -- 70 miles

This drive offers views of the Connecticut River. A high point is the town of Hanover, where visitors can stroll the grounds of Dartmouth College and stop in for good pizza or burgers at any number of collegiate watering holes.

Connecticut River Loop -credit-NHDTTD Carol Placey

Points of Interest:

Great North Woods Region


Moose Alley -- 75 miles

People in the know say the stretch of Route 3 from Pittsburg to the Canadian border is a place where you can almost be guaranteed to see some of the state's estimated 6,000 moose. The best time to see moose are early morning and dusk. Drive slowly and watchfully in this area; collisions with moose can be deadly. When you stop for a photo, pull off the road completely.

Moose Alley-footbridge--credit-NHDTTD Ellen Edersheim

Points of Interest:

Merrimack Valley Region


Concord to Loudon to Pittsfield Loop

Plenty of farm views and fun shopping for local arts and crafts are available at this drive, beginning at the capital city of Concord.

  • Leave Concord on Loudon Road / Route 9 and turn onto Route 106 north toward Loudon
  • In Loudon, pick up Route 129 north through Loudon Center and into Lower Gilmanton. You then pick up Route 107 though Pittsfield
  • South of Pittsfield, turn onto Route 9 West and return to Concord
Concord to Loudon Echo-Lake-credit-Dan-Houde

Points of Interest:

Monadnock Region


Mount Monadnock Loop

The 3,165-foot Mount Monadnock is the hub of this trip. Monadnock State Park has excellent public services and many hiking trails that are accessible and enjoyable even to averagely fit climbers.

Mount Monadnock Loop -credit-Rick Sluben

Points of Interest:

  • Stonewall Farm, 2442 Chesterfield Road, Keene (603-357-7278). Lots to do here on 120 acres that are open to guests: borrow an exploration pack and do activities while hiking the trails; watch your kids play in the nature playground. there are farm animals to visit and foods to taste and buy at the farm store. Mountain biking and cross country skiing trails are open in season.

Dining:

  • Muddy Moose Restaurant and Pub at 2344 White Mountain Hwy in North Conway has a rustic feel, with knotty pine walls, hearty beers, and all the basic, rib-sticking foods for mountain appetites. Nice for families with kids, too.