I recently threw on my NH tourist cap and explored the White Mountains area. I quickly understood what all the buzz has been about – wow! I had no idea our state was so incredible. If you’ve got time, a tank of gas, and $36.00 to your name make sure you head North and check these three short and sweet hikes off your bucket list. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the lean to of the Flume or indulge in one of the many yummy restaurants nearby. All three of these spots are family friendly (just be sure to pack the child carrier backpack instead of the stroller if you have kids).
Lost River – $20/adult ticket
If you’re a photography lover and a nature enthusiast Lost River Gorge is well worth the drive north to the White Mountains. If you can time your trip with peak foliage season you can also enjoy driving amongst the hills and mountainsides set on fire. The loop is roughly 2 miles long with about ¾ of a mile of wooden boardwalk. After descending the stairs to the viewing platform visitors navigate caves, waterfalls, granite boulders and stairways leading through the remains of 300 million years of history from the Ice Age when glaciers deposited and eventually melted away. Each cave is clearly labeled and accurately depicts required exploration techniques to ensure the experience falls within comfort zones. Any “crawling on hands and knees” caves were clearly labeled and there was even a “squeezer gauge” for the tightest cave quarters. The relics left behind are a spectacular jaw dropping delight for those seeking to get lost in the great outdoors, be in awe of the magnitude of Mother Nature and be magically transported through time.
The Flume – $16/adult ticket
This incredible two mile loop takes you into the heart of the valley of the 70-90’ high granite walls of NH’s Flume. Guests can cross a picturesque wooden bridge, explore Table Rock (a giant 75’ x 500’ granite slab), ascend the Ridge Path and end with an impressive view of the 45’ drop of the Avalanche Falls waterfall. If you didn’t appreciate the astounding abilities of planet earth, you surely will after this short hike! Be sure to pack the real camera – my smartphone did not do the depth and rise of this wonder justice.
Artists Bluff – Free
There are few hikes that will give you such a bang for your buck as this hike. To begin with it’s free so the only real investment you’ll have to make is the time and gas money to get there. This roughly 1-1/2 mile loop can be accessed directly across from the Echo Lake Beach parking lot or the Cannon Mountain parking area (across Route 18 from the Peabody Base Area). There are several lookout spots throughout this quick ascent which offer a taste of the splendor awaiting the summit. At the top are breathtaking views of Franconia Notch and Cannon Mountain. It’s easy to see how such fantastic views would be a source of inspiration and canvas backdrop for the gifted artist.