May 2017 – We spent an extended weekend driving and hiking through New Hampshire and Maine. After landing in Boston and picking up our rental car, we drove northeast to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We quickly learned the Google Maps had greatly underestimated our drive time, as our two hour drive became closer to four hours. Once the mountains came into view, though, we forgot about the frustrations of flying and driving and just enjoyed the views.
We stopped briefly at The Basin for a short but beautiful walk. Since it was cool and misting rain, we had the place almost to ourselves as we followed the mostly paved path around the basin. It was a great stretch break and a good introduction to the part of New Hampshire we would be spending the next couple of days exploring.
We then continued north to Littleton for some dinner before everything started closing (I’m not used to places that close up so early). We stopped in at the Littleton Diner for some great comfort food and awesome service. We were a bit surprised to see they only accept cash, but there is an ATM on site.
After dinner, we headed south again to fit in as many good views as we could before the sun went down. We stopped at Echo Lake Beach briefly, and we again had it mostly to ourselves. The lake in front of the mountains is pretty picturesque, so I definitely recommend stopping here even if for only a few minutes.
As the sun set, we headed to the Best Western White Mountain Inn in Franconia for the night. It was super quiet, had all the amenities we needed (except the ice machine was broken), and we were able to recover from our early 3am start that morning.
We had breakfast at the hotel the next morning and then set off in search of some good hiking spots. We started at the Bald Mountain/Artist’s Bluff trail and spent the next couple of hours hiking and enjoying the amazing views offered by this trail. The trail is relatively easy and short, so it was perfect for fitting in among other activities during the day.
Our next stop was Flume Gorge. We were hesitant to pay the pricey admittance fee of $16 a person, but the beauty of the gorge really impressed us. The falls were beautiful, and there were a couple of covered bridges along the trail as well. It was pretty packed, though, so a weekday would probably have made for a better visit.
Next we drove east on the Kancamagus Highway. We stopped at pretty much every scenic overlook and at several of the trails. We did the short hike to Sabbaday Falls and then headed north and hiked to Ripley Falls. We followed our map and had no real time schedule so we could just enjoy ourselves.
When we reached the northside of the mountains, heading to Gorham, the sunset was beautiful with the mountains in the background. We pulled over to enjoy it and then shortly later pulled over again when we saw a black bear roaming in a field. We finally reached Top Notch Inn in Gorham a little after nine. We were given the last room, which was around the back instead of with the general population (a little strange, but it was quiet). Apparently the office had called me once to see where I was since they wanted to leave (I have no service in the mountains). Again, I am not used to towns that close up at 9pm. The restaurant next door was open until ten so we had clam chowder and sandwiches then returned to the inn for the night. We needed some good rest for climbing Mount Washington the next day (review is in another post).