I’ve traveled and photographed on and along many scenic highways and byways here in the United States. The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, the Zion National Scenic Byway in Utah and the Teton Park Drive in Wyoming are just a few of the scenic highways I’ve been lucky enough to photograph. Recently I discovered a byway I never heard of but I’m sure many New Englanders know this road.
One of the landscapes found along the Kanc.
The White Mountains
Located in the White Mountains National Forest in the northern New Hampshire, Route 112 otherwise known as the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (pronounced Kank-ah-maw-gus) is a 34.5 mile road connecting the towns of Lincoln in the west with Conway in the east. There aren’t any gas stations, restaurants or hotels but what you will find is some of the most beautiful landscapes in New England.
The Kanc, State Route 112
Lincoln, New Hampshire
Beginning in the town of Lincoln, the Kanc (as the locals refer to it) follows the Pemigwasset River. Lincoln Woods Ranger Station is four miles east of Lincoln. Here visitors find informational pamphlets describing various hiking trails, as well as restrooms, water and displays featuring the natural history of the area.
Turnouts and Overlooks
The Kanc, like any byway, has many scenic turnouts. My favorite is the second overlook (traveling from the west). Found just off a sharp corner, a traveler could possibly miss the turnout. When I pulled into this overlook the day was, for the most part, a complete washout. The weather was cloudy and rainy the entire day; by the time I arrived the sun wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I thought there wasn’t any point in leaving the comfort of my car. Without notice the sun broke through the thick dark clouds revealing the valley below. A single shaft of brilliant light shown like a beacon on the mountains. Low lying clouds slowly covered areas of the mountains; the foreground was nothing but brilliant shades of autumn colors.
Hike to Greeley Ponds
Many natural wonders are located along the Kanc. Some attractions are fairly easy to reach, while others well, let’s say, not so much. Greeley Ponds is the third hiking area found along the Kanc. According to my guide book I was referencing, the trail was a moderate hike so my goal was to make a full day of visiting the Ponds. The beginning of the trail was fairly easy and according to the book there was a footbridge over the South Fork River. Raining steadily since I arrived, the river was swollen so high that it washed away the footbridge. Previous hikers were able to cross using rocks in the river. However, I have to confess, I’m a klutz. I was petrified I’d fall flat on my face, drown in the river or worst of all I might break (or lose) some or all of my camera gear. Reluctantly I gave up the idea of visiting the ponds. Instead I decided to photograph along the river. Improvising is a nature photographers best friend.
Rocky Gorge-Lower Falls Area
The Rocky Gorge-Lower Falls area is the last overlook along the Kanc before reaching the town of Conley. Located just a few yards off the byway Rocky Gorge-Lower Falls is the most popular turnout along the Kanc. During the summer months it’s a destination for swimmers and sunbathers alike. Thrill seekers come to ride the rapids over the smooth marble rocks. There are also tranquil pools of water for the rest of us who just want to relax. During autumn the area is still quite busy with activity. People standing in front of the falls getting their photos taken for their scrap books. Leaf peepers gazing at the ever changing colors on the trees and photographers like myself, who want to capture the combination of the rapids and autumn color.
I discussed just three areas found along the Kancamagus Highway. There are many more natural attractions, trails and scenic overlooks. The next time you’re in New Hampshire, take a detour to the White Mountains and travel along the Kanc. You’ll see great views of the mountains and the many other natural wonders of the Whites.