It is a known fact the the region of New England in the North East of the United States is one of the best for fall foliage. I have also seen Gilmore Girls so I had hopes of small-town cafés and fall festivals, so when I had the opportunity to take a long weekend in September 2023 to go camping, I jumped at the occasion to visit New Hampshire. I had done very little research, we were leaving Canada with no reservation whatsoever and only a couple of tagged locations on my Google Maps account and it was a perfectly slow weekend, where everything went beyond any expectations! Here are a few of my favorite things that we saw and did, some by plan, others by accident.
Sabbaday Falls is one of the things we stumbled onto by accident. We were driving through White Mountain National Forest and there was a small parking lot by the side of the road and a sign with the name of the fall. The number one rule on a roadtrip is "if there is a view point or an attraction on the side of the road, you have to stop to check it out". It ended up being a 1,5 km trail along the river to the bottom of the fall, and then a loop to see the fall from above and back down to meet again with the original trail. It's an easy trail with a small incline, but nothing major, and the view at the end is so worth it. There are multiple view points by the waterfall and the water is really clear and beautiful. I wish we could have seen it at the peak of fall colors, but we were a little early on September 25th and the leaves were just starting to change in that area.
You do need a pass to go on the hike, but they can be purchased on the day of and are pretty cheap. If you have an annual National Park pass, that works too.
Lost river gorge
The Lost River Gorge was one of the places I had pinned on Google Maps, but just because I had seen a picture on an add and I had done zero research. We just showed up one morning and decided to go. I thought it was pretty expensive at 26$ for a mile-long boardwalk through the forest (you get a small discount if you buy the ticket online), but after visiting, I think it is 100% worth the price and I understand why it is pricey. Not only do you get the boardwalk that allows you to walk through the Gorge and admire the river and the view, but you also get to walk or crawl through multiple caves illuminated by old fashioned gas lamps (one even has a waterfall inside), there are wood sculptures, a huge bird's nest where you can stand and so many viewpoints on the surrounding mountains. We spent about three hours exploring the whole site and we loved the visit!
drive kancamagus highway
Kancamagus Highway crosses part of White Mountain National Forest, but it also brings you in the heights of the mountains where you get a beautiful view on the surrounding mountains. There are plenty of rest areas and viewpoints where you can stop along the way and every turn seems more beautiful than the last. There were waterfalls and beautiful fall foliage. I will definitely drive that road again when I go back to New Hampshire.
go horseback riding
The last time I had been horseback riding was in 2017 in the Rockies at Waterton Park in Alberta, but I remembered it being a great experience that allows you to slowly take in the scenery. We had the idea very last minute and they had available spots at Bretton Woods Stables so we were really lucky. I wish we could have gone in the mountains on a longer ride, but I'm not an experienced rider so a one-hour tour along the valley was all I could realistically ask for, but it was still a great view and a very relaxing experience. I rarely get this feeling of being completely relaxed because there is nothing else I have to do than be present in the moment so this felt amazing to me. The horses were also very well treated and we were able to visit the stables and see that they were well cared for.
camp in white mountain national forest
There were so many different campgrounds to choose from and all of them were spacious and offered some intimacy from neighboring campsites so we had a great experience. We also had no trouble finding available sites on arrival at the end of September, even on the weekend. The weather was perfectly comfortable to sleep in moderate sleeping bags, so anyone used to camping in the summer would have had no trouble. I will definitely camp again on my next visit to New Hampshire. It was so easy and convenient!
Honestly, I loved my visit to New Hampshire and wish I could have extended it to a full week because there are so many things we didn't get to see. I plan on going back next year if I have the opportunity!
other articles you might enjoy