Mile after mile of roads & trails thru this area of New Hampshire for cycling, walking or even rollerblading. And of course, the views are wonderful!
The paved 9 mile Franconia Notch Bike Path is one of the most pictureque rides you can find on the East Coast.
As we only had a few hours to spend in Franconia and therefore couldn't exactly tackle the Appalachian trail, we decided to hike around Flume Gorge instead. Starting at the visitor center, the Flume Gorge trail is an easy 3 km loop that leads hikers (well, walkers really) through the 800 ft gorge that runs along the base of Mount Liberty. It was discovered in 1808 and apparently the word "Flume" was derived from the French word "flumen", but I've never heard that word in my life!
At first, I thought the admission fees were a little steep but as I started walking down the trail, I realized it was pretty much worth every penny I'd spent. The granite walls on both sides of the gorge rise up to a height of 90 feet, first giving a slightly claustrophobic impression and then an exhilarating one as you reach the Avalanche waterfalls. The rest of the trail leads to covered bridges, glacial boulders, cascades, pools and caves - the wolf's den is an optional trail that will have you crawling on your hands and knees to make it through a dark, narrow hole, it's so much fun!
There's a gift shop, cafeteria and restrooms in the visitor center. General admission is $12, and it is open everyday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Part of New Hamphire's White Mountains, Franconia Notch State Park is a beautiful area located roughly between the towns of Franconia and Lincoln, covering about 8 miles on I-93.
The Old Man of the Mountain, a rocky outcropping on the side of a cliff that looked like a man's profile when seen from a certain angle, was the region's emblem until the rocks collapsed in May 2003. There is now an Old Man memorial, but to be honest, I didn't really feel like paying homage to a bunch of rocks so I didn't go. Maybe next time?
But there are many other attractions in the park, including lakes and beaches, picnic and camping spots, an aerial tramway that takes you to the top (4000 ft) of Cannon Mountain, and numerous hiking trails that will lead you to breathtaking landscapes since Franconia Notch is basically a mountain pass located between the Kinsman and Franconia ranges.
As most of the attractions are located along I-93, going from one to the next is incrediby easy when you're traveling by car. And by the way, if you're looking for a place where you can pack a picnic, I'd recommend stopping by the White Mountain Bagel Company, at 13 Main Street in Lincoln. Service is not the greatest, but sandwiches are really good.
Upon his return from Europe in 1915, American poet Robert Frost bought a little farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire. He spent the next 5 years there, dedicating himself to teaching and writing, and some of his most famous poems were written while he lived in Franconia. Frost loved to write about rural life in New England, and he obviously found a lot of inspiration in this little town. When the family moved in 1920, they decided to keep the farmhouse as a summer home and they used it until Frost's wife passed away in 1938.
The Frost Place is now open to visitors free of charge (but you are welcome to make a donation). You can watch a video about Frost's life and poetry, and then visit the house on your own. Some rooms are off limit, since every summer they have a poet in residence. In the woods behind the house you will also find a half-mile nature trail, punctuated by some of Frost's poems - in some cases, you'll find yourself reading a poem on the very same spot it was written! Even if it is a very simple museum, I think it gives visitors a good idea of what it was like for the poet to wake up every morning, look at the magnificient landscape, and pick up a pen to share his emotions with the world.
From the Memorial day weekend to the first week of July, the Frost Place is open on weekends from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. From July to early October, it is open every day except Tuesday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.
The White Mountains offer many man-made attractions as well as natural. Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway takes you to high mountain summits with eye stretching views. (as long as the clouds don't move in). Other area attractions include Lost River Gorge, The New England Ski Museum, Whales Tale Waterpark, Clarks Trading Post, Cog Railway, Heritage NH, Santa's Village, and Story Land.
I'm not a skiier, so out of the other attractions, my favorites are the Lost River Gorge and the Flume Gorge. Bill has not gone to either yet, so I might get him up there this summer on a sticky hot day to get away from the heat. That's when I'll get some good pictures to put here to share with you.
Ages 4-12... $6.50
Ages 3, 2 and 1 w/adult... Free
The Flume Gorge:
Child (ages 6-12): $5.00
5 & under: Free
It'll be a sad time with the Old Man of the Mountain gone now, tho!
Nearby is 4200-foot Cannon Mountain, so named because its oblong shape resembles a cannon. A large 80-person tram takes you from the base to the summit, where you'd have a wonderful view of the surrounding vista. In the winter, you can take the tram up and ski down.
The picture is taken at the top of Avalanche run. Normally, this was supposed to be a very scenic view, with lakes, mountains, and valleys spreading out before us. However the blizzard limited our view to this. It was impossible to see unless you were completely wrapped up like my friend Todd, who looked very much like a Power Ranger. He's also sporting a pair of funky skiboards.
Reputedly where the Old Man of the Mountain set his foot. From up high, the depression does sort of look like one made by a human foot, albeit one that's 50 ft. long.