If you like nature and the mountains, the Kancamagus
Highway (aka: "The Kanc," or misspelled as Kangamangus Highway and
Kangamagus Highway) is a must see! The Kancamagus Highway,
constructed in 1959 is traveled
by over a million people each year. The Kancamagus Highway cuts
34 mile east-west
channel through the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest from Lincoln
NH to Conway NH. When the
dense trees change their leaves from their summer greens to breathtaking shades of
yellow and red in the Fall, they are illuminated against the
colorful mountains, making this a dramatic and enjoyable leaf-peeping
route. Motorcyclists relish the twists and turns as the highway climbs to
almost 3,000 feet at the peak of Mount Kancamagus. The easily accessible
trailheads and parking areas are often sought by hikers. The smooth and rocky swimming
holes, carved by erosion, lure families craving relief from the summer heat.
Our trip to the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire
was great, even in not so good weather, the mountain views and the swimming
in the Swift River was very nice. This is definitely something to do and
even enjoy in the rain in New Hampshire. The day we went, there were
thunderstorms in the area. As you can see in our
photo gallery for this trip, the weather didn't slow us down a bit!
During our 4 trips on a single day down the Kancamagus
Highway, we saw different things on each 32 Mile pass we
made. On our first trip down the highway, we found a quiet secluded area and
went swimming in the Swift River. We were able to walk about 1/2 mile in the
river before we reached areas that were (for one reason or another) not
passable. The mountain fed river was cold at first, but after a few minutes
became refreshing. The air is much cleaner in this area, the smell of
Christmas trees (Spruce trees) fills the air. During our walk down the
river, we did find a fresh set of Moose tracks along the shoreline (photo
photo gallery). We had apparently just missed seeing a Moose!
Along our way, a tour of the
Russell Colbath House was found to be a very interesting way to break up the
long drive on the Kancamagus Highway. Built by sawmill operator Thomas
Russell in 1832, the small home was inherited in 1887 by his granddaughter,
Ruth Priscilla, and her husband, Thomas Alden Colbath. As the story
goes....In 1891, Thomas Colbath left the house one day, telling Ruth he
would return "in a little while." She hung a lantern in the window for
Thomas, but he never returned. The lantern was placed out every evening for
thirty-nine years as she awaited his return, but she never saw Thomas
Colbath ever again. Three years after her death, Thomas Colbath finally did show
up. Thomas Colbath's claims to the house were denied.
During another one of our many trips down the Kancamagus Highway,
we decided to take a brief hike of less than half a mile
to view the narrow flume and series of cascades and waterfalls that make up
Falls, one of the Kancamagus Highway's most popular attractions. The "Sabbaday
Falls" name came from the Sabbath Day. There are also 2 other
well-known waterfalls along the Kancamagus Highway,
Lower Falls and
Years ago, the Kancamagus Highway would be closed for the Winter. It now
remains open year round except during extreme weather.
Directions to the Kancamagus Highway in NH
From Rt. 93:
Take NH Rt. 93 to exit 32 (RT. 112 Lincoln -
follow signs for Kancamagus Highway) Rt. 112 is the Kancamagus
Highway. At the end of the exit
ramp take a left onto RT.112. Rt. 112 will take you to the scenic
part (The Kancamagus. Hwy).
GPS Location: N44.051356 | W71.657808
From Rt. 16:
Take Rt. 16 into Conway, NH. follow Rt. 16
until you see the sign for the Kancamagus Highway. There is a set of
lights at the intersection of the Kancamagus Highway and Rt. 16
N43.979464 | W71.134600
Fast Facts About This Trip:
- The trip doesn't cost much. Even if
you park, the fee is only $3.00. Camping is only $20/day in the
camping areas along the Kancamagus Highway.
- Lots of great mountain views!
- Great place to go on a hot day. The
Swift river is crystal clear.
- Bathrooms in the parks
- The weather didn't cooperate for best
mountain viewing the day we went to the Kancamagus Highway, but
even in bad weather, it's a nice place to visit.
- The bugs do get bad at times.
Tips to Remember:
- Bring a few bucks for parking (cash)
- There are NO businesses on the scenic
part of the
- There are some bus companies that
offer bus tours of the Kancamagus Highway for Fall Foliage tours
- Get gas before you get on the Kanc
- Bring food and drinks
- Bring towels and bathing suits
- Water shoes make it easier to walk in
- Most cell phones do not work
- Take note of the emergency phone
numbers posted o the signs - 911 is NOT one of them!
- Even though the rivers and stream look
very clean, do not drink the water in the streams of rivers
along the Kancamagus. Parasites have been found in the water in
- Bring your fishing pole. There are
Trout in the rivers.
- Bring bug repellant!
The Kancamagus Highway in NH is often misspelled. Common misspellings
include: Kancamangus Highway, Kangamagus Highway, Kangamangus Hiway,
Kancamagnus Highway and Cangamagus