One of our favorite places to go locally is North Conway, NH. This is one town that really has it all. There is hiking, kayaking, tubing, shopping and scenic drives.
This past July we were lucky to spend another 10 nights camping at Eastern Slope Campground in North Conway. This is a great place to position yourself for unlimited fun. The thing that makes this campground stand out for us is the river. The campground is perfectly situated at a bend in the Saco river with a beach at both ends of the property. On hot days there is nothing better than jumping on a floatation device on “Beach 1” and floating to “Beach 2”. The float takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour depending upon the amount of water flow in the river. Beach #2 is where we usually hang out if we want to relax and people watch (you never know what you will see floating down the Saco), plus it’s a dog friendly beach. The Saco River is very popular in Maine and NH and there are several local companies offering kayak, canoe and float trips. These trips can be 1/2 to full day excursions.
This is a good location to position yourself for some great hiking. There are numerous mountains and waterfalls that can be hiked from this location. It’s really hard to pick a favorite because there are so many great ones. One that stands out is the hike to Champney Falls continuing on to Mt. Chocorua. The hike to the falls is a 1.4 mile loop. Those looking for a longer hike can continue past the falls and up to Mt. Chocorua for a 7.6 mile round trip hike. Mt Chocorua is probably one of the most photographed mountains in the area and views from the top are 360 degrees and far reaching.
If you are not into hiking there are several scenic drives. The Kancamagus highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along Rte 112. This route has amazing views of the White Mountains and the swift river. There are several scenic turnouts where you can enjoy views of the mountains or get up closer to the rocky river. Make sure to plan ahead before heading out on this route as there is no services along the way. You will want to pack a picnic lunch and head out with a full tank of gas.
If you are not planning on hiking up Mount Washington then you should plan a drive up the auto road. You can drive up the mountain yourself or take a guided bus tour. If you are afraid of heights and “edgy” roads I suggest you take the guided tour. The drive up is 7.6 miles and takes about 30 minutes to drive up and 30-45 minutes to drive down. There are several scenic turnouts to enjoy the views. You will want to spend some time at the summit enjoying the museum and snapping the requisite photo at the summit sign.
One of our favorite places to bike is the Franconia Notch Recreation Path. It is a paved path that is 8.8 miles long with 800 feet of elevation change. You can start at the Flume visitors center and bike to the other end near Profile Lake and then return. This is a strenuous 17.6 mile round trip bike ride but there are lots of stops along the way where you can enjoy the beauty of Franconia Notch. If you are looking for something a little less strenuous and you have 2 cars, you can spot car at the south end and bike from the north end down. It is almost all down hill from north to south. You can make a day of it by taking the aerial tram to the top of Cannon Mountain, taking the 1.5mile round trip hike to Artists Bluff/Bald Mountain and visiting the Flume Gorge. Those who do not wish to bike this path can still make the drive through Franconia Notch and stop at these great attractions. There are several other scenic locations to visit in addition to these.
Shopping! On a rainy day or when you are tired from all the outdoor activities it’s time for shopping. North Conway is a shoppers paradise. There are several outlet malls including an LL Bean outlet store and a quaint downtown area at the north end of town. The other great thing about NH is there are NO taxes. Those of you traveling with a dog will find North Conway very dog friendly. The Settlers Green outlets have many dog friendly shops, just look for the dog sticker on their windows, many have treats available for their canine visitors. The Christmas Tree Shop in town is also dog friendly and a great place to stock up on supplies for your camping trip. Gizmo says no trip would be complete without a stop at Four Your Paws Only to pick up a new toy or treat.
This is just scratching the surface of all the things there are to do in this area. There are lots of other adventures for those who might traveling with families. Story Land is a great place to bring young children. Those traveling with teens (or those young at heart) will enjoy the Mount Canmore aerial park.
North Conway is an area that could keep you busy with a new adventure all summer long.