Fall has arrived and so have the road trip possibilities! This blog will tell you the in and outs of the famous Kancamagus Highway and the must haves for experiencing Mount Washington, for both hikers and trolley takers alike!
Kancamagus Highway From Connecticut
For our mini-road trip, we caravaned with our friends from central Connecticut. My friend Kevin was the expert on Mount Washington routes, so he came up with this great pit-stopping adventure for our crew as we travelled from CT to our final destination: our Vrbo for our Mount Washington Hike.
Our first stop was the famous Quechee Gorge in Vermont. Located in the town of Quechee, this gorge is a whopping 165 feet deep. Tourists flock to view the view through DSLR camera sized holes in the US 4 Route Bridge.
Free to park and view! The Quechee Gorge State Park next to the bridge also has snacks and a gift shop, making this a comfortable stop during road trips.
The beautiful view is mostly blocked by the bridge's fencing. As I said before, there are some rectangle cut outs to fit your phone or camera through for a picture of the gorge. But make sure not to drop your electronics! Also, there are many people walking across this bridge at all times - you'll have to hog a hole if you want to take your time with pictures.
Our second stop was the Pemigewasset Overlook in New Hampshire. This overlook on the Kancamagus Highway offers stunning mountain views of the White Mountain National Forest. It has a pavilion which provides shade, seating and also interpretive signing describing the views.
Beautiful! Has seating and bathrooms, making this a great pit stop for your trip!
Chilly, bring your heaviest coat for fall foliage viewing! Since this lookout is up so high, the winds whip around you! Also, if you're looking for a quick upload to the 'gram - don't even think about it, there is no service in this area, you'll have to wait until you hit a hotspot to upload that sweet shot!
Our third stop was the Sabbaday Falls Observation Site in Conway, New Hampshire. This stop was very close to the Pemigewasset Overlook. If you go to one of these, you should check out the other! Sabbaday Falls is a beautiful waterfall that's one of the most popular locations on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway.
In my opinion, this was the prettiest site we went to on this route. The stone staircase adjacent to the falls lets you see it from all angles.
There is a 15 minute walk through woods to get to the waterfall, on a gravel trail from a paved parking lot. It is fairly easy but I would recommend proper footwear. I wore some city-girl boots, and let me tell you, those were not made for walking! Haha. Also, unfortunately, non-able-bodied people probably wouldn't be able to enjoy this site without assistance.
Albany Covered Bridge
Our last stop before snuggling up in our Vrbo near Mount Washington was one of the many famous covered bridges of New Hampshire. We picked the Albany Covered Bridge, but there are many along the way of the Kancamagus Highway.
There was a perfect spot in front of the bridge to sit and enjoy the view and stand for photographs. Plus it wasn't crowded, so we could take our time with pictures.
This stop has the least cons of the sites we saw! My only warning for you is that there was still no internet in this part of New Hampshire. Our friends pre-saved the map ahead of time and that's how we were able to get around near Conway, NH. Since we couldn't communicate via text we took an old school approach and walkie-talkied to each other from car to car!
Mount Washington Must Haves
After our scenic road trip we met up with a group of friends in a Vrbo near Mount Washington. The next morning, half of our group hiked up while the other half took an easy ride on the trolley. Here are must-haves for both ways of enjoying Mount Washington:
1) Packing Essentials
If you are the brave soul hiking up the snowy mountain, then I have a packing list for you: What to Pack for Hiking Mount Washington.
My friend Kevin sent a list to us for hikers that he researched online, these suggestions are all added to my Amazon packing list:
I also have a packing video, I added many of these items to my husband's weekender bag! Pack with me for hiking Mount Washington!
2) A place to stay
Whether it be an Airbnb, Vrbo, a friend's house or a hotel you're gonna want to recoup after your long hike and/or trolley ride! This will make your Mount Washington experience more enjoyable because you won't have to worry about driving after hiking!
For both hiking and trolley riding, you will need to pack various layers of clothing. From my experience, I was hot at the bottom waiting for the trolley. I had to take off my coat and I was almost too hot in my medium sized fall sweater. Then, as the trolley tinkered upward, the weather got drastically colder. By the time we were at the top I was bundled back up in a coat, gloves, and hat! To my surprise, the top of Mount Washington was covered in snow near the end of September on a warm sunny day. My husband, who hiked up, had a similar experience. He and his crew were shirtless at some points during the hike and freezing at other points!
For hiking, you'll want to pack small and easy snacks to give you energy throughout the four-hour trek upward. For the trolley you'll want to bring snacks to ease queasy stomachs. In our crew, four adults and two children took the trolley. The angled seating, slow mobility and altitude changes in this trolley ride made my friend and I nauseous! I was so glad I pre-packed a sandwich to curb my sickness.
5) Extra Cash / Funds
You can only pre-book trolley rides for both ways! So if you are a hiker, you can't prepay your way down, you have to make a game-time decision that day for a one-way ticket. My friends and husband were confident before climbing that they would hike both up and down. However, once us trolley folk met them at the top of the freezing snowy mountain, they sang a different tune, lol. They all decided to buy a trolley ticket back down the mountain instead of hiking for another four hours. A good choice in my opinion haha.
Plus, at the top there is a gift shop and a snack shop. You'll want to plan extra funds for warm hot cocoa and stylish sweaters, hats, mugs and more! Especially if you bring children. They won't be able to resist the cute moose stuffed animals.
All in all...
Those are my New Hampshire road trip and Mount Washington tips for you as a novice outdoors girl! This trip wasn't my usual choice in adventure - give me a piña colada and a 90 degree day am I right? Haha. BUT I was so glad I tried something different than my usual vibe. Plus, my husband was over the moon to finally be able to hike! He loves physical adrenaline activities and I don't, so I was thrilled that he found a crew that he can have more adventures like these with!