09.30.2012 - 09.30.2012 50 °F
According to our original plans, we would have been checking out of Mt Coolidge Motel this morning and taking a scenic route from Lincoln, NH to Bar Harbor, ME. Since the weather had turned bad and it was moving from the mountains toward the coast, we thought there would be a better chance of decent weather in the mountains than there would be on the coast in Bar Harbor. Kevin, the owner of the Mt Coolidge, gave us the last unbooked room, a quaint cottage. We move our stuff into the cottage and embarked on another full day in the White Mountains. Today turned out to be "Waterfall Day". The main reason for this is that the clouds and fog socked-in all the high points in the mountains.
Once again, we took the Kancamangus Highway headed toward Conway, NH, but we knew we would cut across Bear Notch Road toward Bartlett instead of taking The Kanc into Conway. Only 7 minutes outside Lincoln, we made our first stop at the Lincoln Woods parking area. This is a major attraction with a parking lot for 100-plus cars. We took a handful of shots of the Pemigewasset River and the swinging bridge over the river that leads to the 6.6 mile loop to Franconia Falls.
We gave serious consideration to hiking the trail to Franconia falls. Despite the fact that the trail is over 7 miles long, there is almost no elevation gain, so you can do it in 3-4 hours. We decided to do several shorter trails instead. So we headed down the Kanc away from Lincoln and toward Bear Notch. Here we captured our best tree-lined highway shots, so far.
Just a bit further along we pulled out at the Pemigewasset Overlook, doubtful of what we'd be able to see, but there were some really pretty individual trees at the overlook.
The big open views into the distance were still being dominated by fog and rain, but they are still pretty awesome in capturing how the weather effects life in these mountains.
Next stop along The Kanc, and the first hike of the day, was Sabbaday Falls. This is a truly easy 0.8 mile hike of less than 1 hour round trip and that includes time to admire the falls. The two pictures just below are of the lower falls (left) and the upper falls (right). With all the wet conditions, there was a nice flow of water in the falls.
On the way back out from Sabbaday Falls, we happened upon another scence of newly fallen red leaves carpeting the floor of the forest. We did not have any windy days, but I envision that it would be raining leaves down under windy conditions.
After Sabbaday Falls we left the Kanc and tookthe shortcut across Bear Notch Road to US-302 near Bartlett and then made our way north bound for the Arethusa Falls Loop Trail. This was, by far, the most crowded hike that we went on. The trail climbs 750 feet in 1.3 miles. The difficulty level was similar to the other hikes we went on: moderate. This 200 foot cascade is the highest waterfall in New Hampshire.
The trail is really worth the effort and sharing the trail with you fellow hiker. The weather conditions were decent and it was nice to hike a trail where you encounter hikers of all sizes, shapes, ages and abilities. In the next two pictures I scrambled all over the big boulders in the stream bed while Michelle nibbled on some trail mix on the bluff above the stream ... hanging with the play-it-safe crowd.
As soon as we completed the Arethusa Falls Hike, we went further north on US-302 and stopped at The Wiley House Historical Site. There were pretty many tourist on Charter Bus Tours in the White Mountains. This stop was our first, but not last, encounter with the tour bus masses. It wasn't too bad here because there was plenty room for everyone to spread out. This area is within Crawford Notch State Park. Here are the pics we came up with.
Just a short distance further north on US-302, still in Crawford Notch State Park, brought us to another roadside attraction ... Silver Cascade. Silver Cascade is a tall mix of plunges and cascades that flow down the southwestern side of Mount Jackson. The falls continue under US 302, eventually converging with the Saco River below the highway. Being as this was a saturday during prime foliage season, and it was directly roadside, there were mobs of people here, too. Here is one wide shot and one tight shot of the lower falls.
We continue on foot approximately 500 feet up the hill where another group of onlookers stood. The spectacle to behold at this location was Flume Gorge Cascade. It appeared to be just as tall and long as Silver Cascade, but not carrying quite as much water. There may have been more brightly colored trees surrounding this cascade.
From the same roadside location there are nice views of Crawford Notch
Only a mile or two further north is the Crawford Notch Train Depot. This wonderful historic building was overrun with visitors and we were unable to park nor get a good photograph. So, we decided this would be the northern terminus of today's journey. We spun the car around and retraced our route back to the south on US-302. The weather teased a couple times that it might break. During that time we stopped at a overlook that had a nice variety of pretty scenery.
After we left this overlook we traveled a pretty good distance southbound without any stops. Yesterday when we were snarled in traffic in North Conway, we vowed to find a way to bypass North Conway. I recalled a Trip Advisor post about a bypass route. We studied our maps and found the bypass. Just north of North Conway, we got on West Side Road. It follows the Swift River and is void of other cars. Hooray for deserted shortcuts!! Only one-half file before West Side Road intersects with NH-16 in Conway is the Swift Covered Bridge. The bridge was build in 1870 and is about 130 feet long. It appears to be in excellent condition, but it is not open to traffic. You can have a picnic on the bridge, though.
Two minutes closer to Conway from the Swift Bridge is another bridge, the Saco Covered Bridge across the Saco River. This one was built in 1890 after two other bridges on this location failed. It cost only $4,000 to build this bridge 122 years ago. Add 3 zeros and you might build the same bridge today. It is 225 feet long.
So continuing the scenic bypass of North Conway and Conway, we backtracked a little from the covered bridges on West Side road onto the Passaconaway Road. This road is directly across the Swift River from the Kanc. The Kanc is a really nice drive, but I loved this little road. We saw about 3 other cars in 15 minutes as we stayed tucked under a tunnel of trees. The Passaconaway ends and you must use the Albany Covered Bridge to get on the Kanc. So that is what we did ... crossed the bridge and pulled into a large parking lot along The Kanc. There were two tour buses in the lot and quite a few others in their personal vehicle. This scene was funnier than this picture represents ... all the people from both tour buses descended upon the Albany Covered Bridge.
This wasn't just 120 old ladies with blue hair. It was a really diverse crowd. Every single person had cameras ablaze photographing the bridge and each other and so on. We take great effort to get good pictures without people in them whenever possible. I can only imagine that every picture the bus tour people take is filled with their fellow bus tour patrons. Hey, it's still better than sitting on the couch staring at the 4 walls. Anyway, here is the Albany Covered Bridge and the Swift River and some fall colors.
Our second full day in the White Mountains was a busy one. It was waterfall and covered bridge day. We didn't get wet, but there was no sun either. Our last stop of the day was at Rocky Gorge. The colors here were really good and the gorge was pretty impressive.