New Hampshire: Foliage Routes

White Mountains Region

Franconia Recreation Trail: With nearly nine miles of paved rail trail in one of the most scenic notches of the White Mountains, the Franconia Notch State Park Recreation Path is hard to beat in terms of views and accessibility. The path travels for nearly 9 miles from Flume Gorge in the south to Skookumchuck & Rt. US 3 in the north. There is an 800 foot elevation gain from south to north. The northern terminus is about a 1 hour drive from North Conway, a popular destination for visitors to the Whites. Ambitious runners can take on the entire length of the path, but for a shorter jog, we recommend the southern end of the trail. This slightly uphill route will take you from The Flume parking lot, over Whitehorse Bridge, and through the Basin viewing area where you can explore the geological formations of the Pemigewasset River. You’ll pass Echo Lake, and Cannon Mountain. One option is to run one-way and use the Cannon Mountain Shuttle, which runs seasonally, for the return. Whichever length you choose, you’ll be rewarded with colorful mountainside views. ROUTE MAP.   SEGMENT DISTANCES

Kancamagus Highway: Although popular among sightseeing motorists and hardcore bicyclists, “the Kanc” has a wide enough shoulder for runners who want to take in the views on this scenic stretch of highway. This section of route 112 spans 32 miles between Lincoln and Conway, and boasts many trailheads, but the most spectacular views on the road itself are around the CL Graham/Wangan Grounds Scenic Overlook, the highest point where two rivers spill down from Mount Kancamagus, and you can see the whole valley painted with color. Running along the Kancamagus is a treat…and a challenge. You can run along any spot of the highway, but we’ve mapped a route that starts from the CL Graham Picnic Area just west of the pass and the Pemigewasset Overlook, for a total distance of 5.6 miles with an 850 foot elevation gain. The shoulder is adequate, but use caution. If you prefer a one-way trip, the Lakes Region Airport Shuttle does offer a shuttle on a charter basis. MAP: 5.6 mile out and back; MAP: 2.8 mile loop.

Note: Use caution. Many drivers have their eyes on the stunning overlooks and not the road. Run opposite traffic.  Also, a recreation pass (which can be purchased at ranger stations) is needed to park in areas along the highway.

—Anthony Quintano

Sugar Hill: With a name like Sugar Hill, how could this New Hampshire town be anything less than quaint? Although it’s technically the newest town in the state, incorporated in 1962, this tiny, tight-knit community is possessed of a rustic charm, from its white steepled meetinghouse to its grand central inn. And with sweeping views of Mount Lafayette and forests of the White Mountains, it’s a prime place to peep some foliage away from the crowds. The town does get its fair share of tourists on Route 117 during foliage season, but the views along this stretch are worth it. You can round out the route on the stonewall-lined backroads around the Sugar Hill Town Forest. The loop from Grandview Road to Center District, Jesseman, and Blake Roads, just north of the highway, is a perfect spot for a secluded foliage run.

Route Map

Mount Washington Resort/Bretton Woods: Running up the long driveway of the The Mount Washington Resort, with its famed red roof, wrap around porch, and views of Mount Washington in the background, is a highlight of the White Mountains. One of the last Grand Dame hotels still standing, the hotel (which hosted the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944) is part of the larger Bretton Woods resort, which features a ski area across the street, a golf course, and extensive trails for nordic skiing in winter and running/cycling in summer. Come fall, you can reward yourself with a chairlift ride to the summit, and watch the glory of autumn unfold beneath you. Running the trails and extensive grounds of the Mount Washington Resort is a special treat. Start from Rt. 302 at the entrance to the hotel or near the AMC Highland Center, about 3.5 miles east of the resort (which also has killer views). Note: there might be someone at the gate near the hotel entrance, and there might be a charge for use of the nordic/mountain bike trails.

Bethlehem. This quieter town in the White Mountains is a bit off the beaten track but is lovely for running in fall. One highlight is The Rocks, a one-time summer home that is now a 1,400 acre preserve, with 22 historic buildings and several miles of trails. The trails wind through woods, fields, apple orchards, and past historic buildings. Trail info.

For more running in the White Mountains Region, check out our guide to North Conway.

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