(Date: April 24, 2016)
New Hampshire is a very beautiful state to drive in. As soon as I left I-95 near Portsmouth, I made my way inland on Highway 4 toward Concord, the state capital of New Hampshire. As I drove into the downtown area, I was quite amazed with how beautiful the buildings are along Main St. I found a parking spot almost directly facing the New Hampshire State House, constructed from 1816-1819. The state house is very beautiful although the dome was being redone when I was checking out Concord. It is also open for tours every weekday. Around the grounds there are also statues including Daniel Webster (the United States Secretary of State from New Hampshire under Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore) and the only U.S. President born in New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce.
Concord was mostly a place for me to get some lunch before heading up to Franconia Notch State Park in northern New Hampshire, but I enjoyed my short time in the city. I walked down Main St. admiring the beautiful buildings placed on both sides of the street. I came across a nice Panera-like cafe called The Works Bakery Cafe. I ordered the Super Chicken hot sandwich along with a side of potato chips without preservatives, and they were both quite tasty. The cafe uses local and regional ingredients, and I could clearly taste the freshness. The melted Vermont cheddar made it totally irresistible especially with a nice bottle of Poland Spring Water! There are several different locations throughout northern New England where the cafe operates, so you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy some delicious food made to order.
I got back into the car, and I waved goodbye to Concord although I would love to come back to check even more of Concord. As I continued north on I-93, I began to notice that the amount of trees and mountains began to increase. With the perfect, blue skies, it felt like I was driving into paradise. I would find a pretty view of the mountains in the distance only to make a 45-degree curve on the freeway to see even taller mountains. I was smiling with joy! Before I knew it, I had crossed into the Franconia Notch State Park limits!
As it was late April, I knew that many attractions in the state park would not be open yet, but I wanted to drive through the White Mountains as a part of my road trip. I got off of I-93 at the exit for the Flume Gorge. The gorge contains many great waterfalls and vistas. Unfortunately, the trail was not open yet, but I was able to get a beautiful view of the mountains in the distance!
I got back in the car, and I drove a little bit further until I got to the exit for the Basin. From the parking lot, I took the paved trail underneath I-93, and I came over to the tranquil Pemigewasset River as it blended in with all the evergreen trees. On the way to the Basin, there is a quick branch off the trail (only about several feet or so) to where I could get a beautiful view of the rocky rapids. I felt like I was back in the Colorado Rockies! I got back on the trail, and I came across to a huge pothole which was carved over 20,000 years ago by melting glaciers. Fortunately, this is one pothole you will actually want to see as this is the Basin itself and all its glory! The view is just absolutely beautiful!
I got back into the car, and I drove to the next exit which was not too far at all from the exit for the Basin. This exit, across from the Lafayette Place Campground, contains the parking lot for the trailhead of the Old Bridle Path which goes up toward Mount Lafayette (it changes its name to the Greenleaf Trail) connecting with the Appalachian Trail. If I could spend an entire weekend in this area, I would love to check out more of the trail and even climb up to the Appalachian Trail. However, as I still needed to get over to Burlington, Vermont that evening, I managed to walk about a quarter mile on the rocky trail. The scenery was just absolutely beautiful along the trail. I would make sure to bring hiking shoes for this hike if you decide to keep going up toward Mount Lafayette!
After getting back into the car, I got back onto I-93 to get off at the next exit for Boise Rock. The boulder was named after Thomas Boise took shelter under the boulder from a blizzard. Using the rock as well, he was able to survive and get rescued. Standing from the rock, you can look across I-93 where you can see Cannon Mountain, a 4080 foot mountain which stretches high into the sky. However, I would get a better view of the mountain from my final destination in the park on this trip.
I made it to the north part of the park (along I-93), and I parked my car at Echo Lake Beach. Although it was too cold to swim, I was able to walk to the beach area where I could see the crystal clear lake with the reflections of Mount Lafayette and Cannon Mountain shining on the lake. It was one of the most peaceful scenes of my entire road trip. If I had more time, I could spend a good hour just looking out at the lake. On the ski runs of Cannon Mountain, I could still see snow on them although the leftover snow was likely artificial as I did not see any snow elsewhere. Cannon Mountain is a popular attraction in the park with the ski park in the winter and a tramway, open during the summer, which can take you to the top of the mountain where you can get a beautiful view. Although the tramway would have been something I would have loved to do, it was closed during April. Nevertheless, I still got a great view of the mountains from Echo Lake!
When visiting New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park is one place in the state which you must check out. What is awesome is that you do not even have to get out of the car to enjoy its beauty. Simply driving on I-93 through the park is such a pleasure as I would now say it was one of my favorite drives in the United States. The park has plenty of hiking opportunities and many great places to explore. I would absolutely love to come back in the future to check out some of the trails in the park.
Sadly, I had to get back into the car and continue north on I-93. As I headed north out of the park, I began to start going downhill toward the Connecticut River where I crossed into the state of Vermont. Thank you for reading this blog post of my drive through the beautiful state of New Hampshire, and this is Scott signing out!