Motorcycle the Kancamagus Highway
Motorcycle Trips in New England
by George Bogosian
One of the best motorcycle trips in New England is a ride on the Kancamagus Highway, “The Kanc”, also know as Route 112…. with Lincoln, NH on the west end and Conway, NH on the east end. You don't need a lot of motorcycle accessories but bring along your rain gear...just in case. And you don’t need a motorcycle to enjoy this ride, but at least put the top down or open your windows in your traveling vehicle. (or maybe it’s time to get a motorbike) There are no services on the highway so gas up before you begin the journey.
The Kancamagus is located in the White Mountains National Forest.
The highway is 30 miles above Lake Winnipesaukee; NH’s largest lake. The ride takes about one hour to traverse. The views are spectacular and it’s an interesting ride up and down through the Kancamgus Pass. The fall foliage in this area is appreciated by many and mid September through October brings many a leaf peeper. It’s not that busy that you can’t enjoy the colors, views and the ride. There are two overview turnouts you should take on route. One is on each side of the pass with signs marking their locations. The ride is enjoyable any time of year except winter, of course. Yes, we put our bikes away for the winter…. and go skiing!
There is a visitor’s center on the Lincoln entry side where you can orient yourself to the region and get some information, maps and view the US Forest Service exhibits.
Obviously it depends on your starting point as to how you’ll access that road.
You can only access the Kancamagus from either the east or the west; there are no other entry points (worth mentioning) along the 34.5 mile route.
We don’t enjoy highway motorcycling so we stay on the back roads where there’s always more to see and places to stop, visit or to catch a bite to eat. I tend to like the west entry to the highway because I like stopping in North Woodstock for lunch. There are a couple of my restaurant favorites, one being Woodstock Inn, we sit outside in their patio space if there’s room and the Truant's Tavern just down the street. Both of these establishments are located right in town and come recommended by me! Both have atmosphere, good food and fair prices.
Here are some roads we like to take to get to the Kancamagus. From Concord, NH take Route 3 north.
- Route 3 north to Franklin then
- Route 3A to Bristol, then
- Continue 3A north going east side of Newfound Lake to Rt 25
- Go north on Rt 25..it joins Rt 118
- Stay on Rt 118 to Rt 112 go right, and then into North Woodstock.
Lunch at either Woodstock Inn (my favorite) at 135 Main Street or Truant's Tavern, at 96 Main Street would be a good idea about now.
After lunch… or not…cross the river into Lincoln and fill up on gas. The Kancamagus, Rt 112, begins on the outskirts of Lincoln heading east. The Visitor’s Center is on your left (if you decide to visit) as you begin the drive on the Highway. You’ll go uphill to about 3000 feet before heading down the other side. It’s a ride through the White Mt National Forest. I’ve seen moose and turkeys on route during my rides. It’s a great scenic ride if there ever was one.
The Russell Colbath house is a little visited historic home near the end of “The Kanc”.
The living history person that tends the house and gardens has some interesting stories about the house and local history. If you’re lucky she’ll be taking something out of the ovens for you to munch during your visit. It’s a great slow down moment…. with restrooms.
Route 16 goes through Conway and if you’re returning to the south you go right on 16 all the way to the coast, if you’re heading that way. If you’re thinking of spending the night I’d go left and go up into North Conway for a motel and lots of eating establishments. You could head back south in the morning or continue venturing around the White Mt area. There are lots of riding choices in this area awaiting your discovery; there are no bad choices but you’ll remember the Kancamagus Highway and will bet you’ll return for more motorcycle rides in this area.