New Hampshire is most beautiful in autumn, thanks to the breathtaking fall foliage. The magnificent display of colors entices travelers from different parts of the world. Going on scenic drives is one of the best ways to experience most of New Hampshire's fall foliage, as they can be seen from as far as 1000 miles of the state's designated drives and byways. When getting through these scenic drives, vacationers are likely to encounter covered bridges, historical sites, brilliant waterways, beautiful vistas, and more. Planning an autumn trip to New Hampshire? Here are the 10 scenic fall drives in the state for leaf peepers.
10 Kancamagus Highway
Also known as Route 112, the 34-mile Kancamagus Highway is an incredibly scenic passing through the middle of the White Mountain National Forest amidst Conway and Lincoln. While travelers will most likely find this beautiful driveway packed with other leaf peepers during weekends, it is truly a fall wonderland, thanks to all the shouting colors bordering the highway. There is a lot that this scenic drive offers travelers. Other than being a leaf peepers' paradise, it is a fantastic gateway to some of the state's best hiking trails, gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful campgrounds, and historical sites, among others.
9 Currier & Ives Scenic Byway
Winding through New Hampshire’s towns of Hopkinton, Webster, Henniker, Warner, and Salisbury, Currier & Ives Scenic Byway is another haven for leaf peepers, leading travelers through the state's enchanting towns and the Merrimack Valley. From Route 202 in Hillsboro, travelers should drive northeast along the Contoocook River and enjoy the striking fall foliage views that abound. From here, drive through Hopkinton, a charming village which was once the state's capital. Once at the junction of Route 103 to 127, drive north as if heading toward the towns of Warner and Webster. Along this drive, visitors will see the beautiful downtowns and vistas, which they should definitely make a stop to explore. The Contoocook Covered Railroad Bridge, New Hampshire's oldest railroad bridge, is located along this scenic drive.
8 Pinkham Notch Loop
Covering 100 miles, Pinkham Notch Loop offers spectacular views of the state's gorgeous mountains and the countryside. From North Conway, travelers can follow Route 16 north and drive through Pinkham Notch, where breathtaking Presidential Range views await. The other side of the same route will lead travelers to Gorham, New Hampshire. Being the hometown of Jackson, which features white churches, covered bridges, and numerous picturesque mountains – all surrounded by incredible fall colors.
7 The Lakes Region Tour And Its Scenic Drive
New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, including the charming lakeside towns and water bodies - is always painted in striking colors of autumn leaves. This loop surrounds New Hampshire's largest and most famous lake, Lake Winnipesaukee. Beginning the scenic drive from Alton, travelers can go with Route 11 and head towards Gilford and Weirs Beach. Weirs Beach is home to fantastic restaurants, a gorgeous public beach, a fantastic boardwalk, and several activities a whole family would find fun doing. Making a stop there is a must-do before driving towards Meredith. From there, one can follow Route 25, heading towards Moultonborough. Before picking Route 109, travelers take a moment and enjoy the beautiful colors surrounding Center Harbor. Route 109 takes visitors to Wolfeboro, America’s oldest summer resort. This route is full of gorgeous colors of fall foliage, and many travelers would choose to go back.
6 Mt. Washington Auto Road
Located on the stunning NH Route 16, about 25 minutes north of North Conway, Mt. Washington Auto Road offers breathtaking fall views into the Great Gulf Wilderness, thanks to its position in the Pinkham Notch. Travelers will also get a glimpse of the Presidential Mountain Range. Launched in 1861 as a carriage road, Mt. Washington is an eight-mile scenic drive to the Mountain's Peak, where travelers will be awarded panoramic views of the striking colors of the deciduous trees' leaves.
5 Mount Monadnock Loop
The highlight of this scenic drive is Mount Monadnock, standing at 3,165 feet high. Covering 80 miles from Keene, this loop passes through Marlborough, Marlow, and Peterborough. Travelers can follow Route 101 toward Marlborough and then drive south on Route 124 through Monadnock State Park. There are brilliant public services in this park, and several hiking trails go through lush vegetation which glows in beautiful fall colors. From there, head north on Route 123 to Peterborough and then head to Greenfield by following Route 136. From there, drive through Forest Road, then to Hancock on Route 123 to the gorgeous Marlow. One can then choose to go back to Keene.
4 General John Stark Scenic Byway
Covering 34 miles, this beautiful drive passes through Goffstown, Dunbarton, Weare, and New Boston. From Goffstown, follow route 13 and then drive to New Boston. This drive stretches along the Pistacataquong River; then, it goes through Mont Vernon, Milford, and Brookline to the Massachusetts border. Throughout the scenic byway is breathtaking fall foliage, which brightens up the whole area.
3 Lake Sunapee Scenic Byway
Lake Sunapee Scenic Byway stretches for about 30 minutes and allows visitors to discover the autumn colors sprinkled along the area's mountains, farmlands, riverways, and lakes. From Newbury, follow Route 103 heading north, and enjoy the gorgeous views of Mount Sunapee. Once at the Route 11 junction, drive north toward Lake Sunapee and maybe stop and take a bite from the harbor. The surrounding fall foliage is awe-inspiring and even more breathtaking when they get reflected on the lake's blue waters. One can continue driving east on Route 11 up to New London. From here, vacationers will enjoy the magnificent views of the towering Mount Kearsarge and the surrounding beautiful fall foliage.
2 Moose Path Trail
This scenic drive offers travelers an incredible opportunity of experiencing a true wilderness. From Gorham, take route 16 and drive north towards the town of Errol. Once in town, pick Route 26 and drive to Dixville Notch, and then head north to the gorgeous town of Pittsburg on Route 3. There are several miles of off-roading trails for visitors who may still be craving more foliage views. One can try ATVing in the region or engage in an autumn hike.
1 American Independence Byway
On this scenic drive, vacationers will connect with New Hampshire's incredible history, starting from the Exeter Center, the location of the American Independence Museum. Before starting the journey, one can take a moment at the museum and learn something about the region’s history. Now, let’s embark on the scenic drive. From the Exeter Center, take route 150 and drive south through Kensington. Take Route 84 and head east to Hampton Falls. At the falls, travelers will encounter lots of apple orchards to spice up the fall adventure. Then take Route 1 North, then Route 27 and drive towards Route 1A for more spectacular fall foliage views.