Xplore the Road Less Traveled: The White Mountains Trail Scenic Byway

In the heart of New Hampshire lies the White Mountains National Forest, covering 800,000 acres of land. The forest holds many activities and sights to see along the way. The best way to see everything the area offers is by traversing the White Mountains Trail, a US Scenic Byway that weaves in and around the National Forest.

The byway creates a loop route, beginning in Lincoln, New Hampshire. With so much to see and do - this 100-mile loop leads you in and out of the White Mountains National Forest. Take a few hours or an entire week to explore the road, which has many stops along the way. Stop in Franconia Notch for a bike ride, or visit the Cog Railway.

As you head North from Lincoln, NH, one of your first stops will be The Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park. This impressive force of nature is 90 feet high, 800 feet long, and only 12 feet wide in some spots. Get out to walk the 2-mile loop trail, where you traverse a wooden boardwalk and stairs that lead you into the depths of the flume. The trail leads you by flowing streams and waterfalls, the most impressive being Avalanche Falls. And don’t forget to stop by the Flume Gift Shop at Franconia State Park to commemorate your trip with an Xplorer Map!

Continue your drive toward the areas of Bretton Woods and Mount Washington. Here is where you can ride the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington, the world’s first mountain-climbing railway. The original locomotive still sits at the summit of the mountain.

As you head south, take a small shortcut for a short hike at Diana’s Baths. This 1.3-mile easy hike takes you to many gorgeous small waterfalls. Just a little south of Glen and just north of North Conway, this is an excellent addition to your road trip around the heart of New Hampshire!

To finish up your trip, stop by the charming town of North Conway for great food and shopping! Have a brew and a bite at Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co. Then finish your visit by shopping at Hand Crafters Barn for some great souvenirs!

To return to Lincoln, drive south to Conway and catch the 34-mile drive along the Kancamagus Highway back west. Enjoy this winding road with its vast views, and don’t forget to watch for wildlife along the way!