Photograph Fall Foliage on the Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway - Route 112

Driving the Kancamagus Highway in the fall season provides stunning views of the changing foliage in the White Mountain National Forest. Some of the most quintessential New England views can be found here during peak foliage in the Granite State. 

Driving the Kancamagus Highway is something you can do as a way to cross the White Mountain National Forest quickly from I-93 in the east to Conway, or it can be an entire day's activity. In the fall, it's almost impossible not to stop at every turn-off on the scenic highway as it winds through the mountains beneath a covering of vibrant foliage. 

If you're starting from I-93, you'll access the Kancamagus from Lincoln, NH (Route 112 drives through Lincoln passing by Loon Mountain). Lincoln is a good spot to grab any snacks or supplies if you plan on spending the day on the Kancamagus as there are no places to buy food/gas for the next 32 miles on the highway.

If you're beginning from the west in Conway, you'll hop on 112 at the intersection of 113/Main St. On your right as you begin to drive down 112, you'll see a Forest Ranger Station with maps and brochures highlighting different attractions in the region. 

If you're coming from points further south outside of NH, it's probably likely that you'll drive up I-93, which would put you in Lincoln to begin. The drive out of Lincoln down the Kancamagus is the more dramatic portion of the area in terms of mountains. It's definitely passable in any vehicle provided there's no snow, but there are some hairpin corners and steep climbs/descents as the highway crosses several lower elevation mountains.

Every pull off is well labeled and visible (highly recommend only stopping in actual pull offs, folks familiar with the area drive pretty fast down this road). There are also several trailheads located on the highway (Sawyer Pond and Hancock Notch are a few great ones).

If you don't have a whole day to hike or maybe just want to go for a more relaxing drive with walking stops, the Kancamagus is the perfect drive during the fall. 

Peak foliage season can vary, but visiting any time during the first two weeks of October will definitely guarantee at least a decent show of color. By the second week of October, this area is usually in peak foliage season. It is a fleeting time of year in the White Mountains, characteristic of cloudy/foggy mornings giving way to sunnier skies in the afternoon. 

One of my all time favorite spots and a must-stop is Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, located towards the end of the Kancamagus if you're coming from the east. 

Pack List

  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • Umbrella
  • Rain jacket/windbreaker
  • Camera
  • Snacks
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RT Distance 32 Miles
Elevation Gain 2855 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Something I do every fall!

Nothing compares to the White Mountains in the fall, and the Kanc is a great way to see it. If you are looking for some great pictures, the pull offs are nice, but getting out and hiking will give you the best views. Highly recommend Artists Bluff, frankenstein cliffs, lonesome lake or any of the 4000 footers to get off the road a bit. Take it all in!

Weekend Drive

Great views but very busy this time of year. We also took a detour up Loon Mountain for a short hike/Gondola ride


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