North Conway, NH

Fall has arrived in New Hampshire.  Visiting the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, we received maps and info on the most colorful routes.  By doing our own driving, we missed out on a popular local attraction.  Conway Scenic Railway offers a variety of rides.  Departures from their 1874 station, in downtown North Conway, begin in mid-April and run through the New Year’s Holiday.  Their trips to Crawford’s Notch, for leaf viewing, is available mid-September to Mid-October.
Heading initially to Cathedral Ledge, we saw a few couples preparing to rappel 700 feet up.  We made the ascent in our car, but for the more daring, this cliff is said to be one of the most popular in the country for both beginners and for seasoned climbers.  If you are in the area and feel inclined to do a vertical climb, there are local guides available to teach the necessary skills.   

Driving along the Kancamagus Highway though the White Mountain National Forest, we were treated to golden yellows, burnt oranges and deep reds displayed by the varieties of maples and birch that line the roadway.  Clear deep blue skies made for optimal viewing on the trips we made. 

Aside from the spectacular fall foliage, this area offers dozens of covered bridges, hundreds of waterfalls and countless trails.  By driving, we were able to stop as desired to explore.  Many of the waterfalls require only a short walk for viewing.  Silver Glades Fall can be seen from the roadway.  The Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch is an exception.  Here you are walking through a natural chasm with multiple waterfalls.  If you like, a tram can take you about halfway up the mountain.  The final climb is up wooden stairs that cling to the side of the mountain to the top of the falls.  A 92-year old woman out for an afternoon stroll through the mountains made discovery of the Gorge in the 1800’s.  That story really made us feel guilty for wanting to skip out on even some of the easier trails.

Traveling toward Pinkham Notch, we stopped at the base of Mount Washington.  At 6288 feet, it is the tallest peak in the Northeast.  Several groups were preparing for hikes up the mountain.  This is serious hiking and multiple layers plus preparations for the worse case scenario need to be thought out well before the trip.  The Mountain holds the 2nd place record for the highest wind on the surface of the earth at 231 mph.  The average temperature at the peak is 27 degrees, and even summer storms can leave ice and snow.  Over one hundred people have died on this peak, many from exhaustion and exposure.  Hundreds of people each year risk the climb to the top of the mountain, but the peak is accessible by car.  Since 1861, there has been a road.  It is said to be the oldest manmade tourist attraction in the country.  But, of course, if you are an adrenaline junkie or an outdoor enthusiast, the road is not going to cut it. 
We would never consider doing a hike up Mount Washington but we did partake in several of the shorter trails available in the area, with the gorgeous foliage enhancing our walks.   This beautiful region is a place we will want to visit again.

At Flume Gorge

Ellis Falls

Built in 1876, this is known as "The Honeymoon Bridge"

Ellis River

At Ellis Falls

At Flume Gorge

At Flume Gorge

White Mountain Natl. Forest Bridge built in 1858

Swift River Bridge built in 1869

Saco River Bridge built in 1890

Interior of Bridge

Suspension bridge at Flume Gorge

Alan standing in dry riverbed

At Flume Gorge

Silver Glade Falls

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