Mountain vistas. Family-friendly attractions. Outdoor adventures. Our region is famous for many reasons, but we would be remiss if we didn’t give our White Mountains fall foliage a particularly special shoutout.
Autumn enthusiasts will sing the merits of the Kancamagus Highway, of Lincoln and Conway and the Mount Washington Valley, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: if you are looking for quieter places in the White Mountains to visit during fall, head north of the notch to the likes of Franconia, Littleton, and Bethlehem, NH.
Here are a few fun local ways to spend a glorious fall day.
VISIT A HISTORIC LANDMARK
Did you know the last remaining iron blast furnace in New Hampshire sits by the banks of the scenic Gale River? Head to Franconia, NH and travel north on Route 18: the Besaw Franconia Iron Furnace waits! This octagonal, granite stacked structure rates as one-of-a-kind in our books, and when the leaves are popping in shades of red and orange, you can’t ask for a more slightly spooky photo opp. There is also a short walking trail (more on that below), plus a lovely bench for sitting and pondering what the view might have been like more than 200 years ago.
The Iron Furnace is located on private property; please enjoy the view solely from the small public park.
GET YOUR FILL OF LOCAL ART
After your brief stop at the Iron Furnace, it’s on to the art. Would you like to stay parked right where you are? Follow the path that leads over the pedestrian bridge and you have started your fall stroll along the Franconia ArtWalk. If abundant murals are more to your taste, you can drive 10 minutes north to the bustling main street of Littleton, NH – there is public art to be found around nearly every corner (as well as the gorgeous League of NH Craftsmen Fine Craft Gallery). Head to Local Works Marketplace and the Gallery at WREN in nearby Bethlehem, NH if you’d like to continue your foray into the White Mountains art scene.
The Franconia Art Walk is open July – Columbus Day Weekend. For more information on Littleton’s public art, the NOCO Mural website is a great place to start.
SWOON OVER A COVERED BRIDGE
If you opted for Littleton’s main street, look for the wrought iron archway marking the start of the River District – in addition to the likes of Schilling Beer Co. and other great local shops tucked just behind Main Street, you’ll find the picturesque Riverwalk Covered Bridge. Walkers seeking river views of the Ammonoosuc will delight in this 352’ pedestrian-only structure, but we suggest adding something a little extra: a walk along the river trail to the Curran Suspension Bridge, a bouncy behemoth complete with photogenic love locks.
SNAG A NEW FALL BOOK
The Little Village Toy & Gift Shop is the spot to pick up a copy of the latest spooky thriller or hiking guide for the White Mountains. It also houses a staggering number of boardgames and toys to leave bored kiddos dazzled. Can’t you see it now? Your fall day of adventuring has wrapped up. The family is bonding over Boggle, and you’ve found a quiet spot to settle in for a cozy night of reading…it’s the stuff fond vacation memories are made of!
WALK THE TRAILS AT THE ROCKS
The Society for the Protection of NH Forests just reopened their free trail system at The Rocks (Bethlehem, NH), and we can’t wait to explore it! If you already have holidays on the brain, pause to admire the tidy rows of Christmas-bound coniferous trees before you head into the colorful woods. The Gozzo Loop is a great option if you want to maximize those fall vibes, but you can also take the Maple Trail if you want just a short walk to the historic Sawmill Pigpen.
Visit The Rocks website for a PDF trail map and to download the Forest Society’s handy app.
TAKE YOUR PICK: FOLIAGE FROLICS VIA HORSEBACK OR GOLF CART
This is it, your last bit of adventuring north of the notches. Will it be a trail ride near the foothills of the Kinsman Range courtesy of Franconia Notch Stables (Franconia, NH), or a round of fall golfing at the historic Maplewood Golf Course (Bethlehem, NH)? Both options will get you out and about in that lovely mountain air, admiring our outstanding fall foliage.
Remember to book either activity ahead of time to ensure availability during your travels.
What a way to spend a day! If you'd like to add another day of adventure, check out our fall itineraries.