It’s difficult to find an un-scenic highway in the White Mountains . But some highways are just more scenic than others, and the Kancamagus Highway (or the “Kanc”) might just offer the best eye-candy in the entire Northeast. We’re talking pinball-machine switchbacks, pitched dives through forested ledges, and narrow straightaways flanked by mountains on both sides that will leave you feeling alternately like a bird and an ant.
The Kancamagus Highway, also known as Route 112, begins in Lincoln , and ends 35 twisting miles away in Conway . Along the way it passes over the summit of Mount Kancamagus (the name means “The Fearless One,” after a Penacook sachem in the early 1800s) and has several pull-offs for short hikes.
Take the three-mile Boulder Loop Trail for views of the Passaconaway Valley far below. Of course, all of the scenery is enhanced tenfold during foliage season—then again, so is all the traffic, so you might be better off driving the Kancamagus Highway in spring or summer instead.
If you do venture out when the leaves are doing their thing, leave early in the morning. As a bonus, you might just disturb a moose or a black bear walking back across the road from an early breakfast.