The Kankamagus Highway: Natural New Hampshire at your own Pace

The Kank: A scenic New Hampshire drive called the Kankamagus Highway or New Hampshire Route 112

Conway to North Woodstock/Lincoln

This incredible scenic drive (55 km/34 miles) is well worth doing if you’re anywhere near it.  I’m sure it is especially great when the leaves are turning colour, however, we went on the drive during summertime and found it particularly enjoyable.  We started our journey on the coast and so arrived via the US 4 to NH 16 route.  It put us into Conway where we went to the Main Street and grabbed something to eat at the Sweet Maple Cafe in Conway, N.H.  The food was good and it has indoor as well as outdoor seating.  I do recall that there were signs telling you where to place your plates when finished and some other signs whose message I don’t recall.  Still, a great little place to stop for a bite to eat (and they have a small retail area too).

Inside the Sweet Maple Cafe, Conway, New Hampshire

We started our journey and before too long – like five or ten minutes – we were stopping alongside the Swift River to get out (there’s plenty of opportunity to stop along the way – and remember we were in a 35 foot motor home).  The scenery is gorgeous and there were little paths to the river which we took.  We laid out on some smoothed rocks – and there were plenty – and just relaxed.  A great place to bring a picnic which we would do again when we take this route another time.  If you want a great detailed guide, including various hikes, you can download one from the State of New Hampshire’s website here.

There were no shortage of fabulous places to pull over and just soak in the sun and nature along the highway.

Further down the highway is the Sabbaday Falls Picnic Area followed by the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area.  The Rocky Gorge is a place we stopped and walked down to the waterfalls and then did the short hike to the lake.  You can also bring your pet on these walks.  There is a confusing system about paying entry at these locations but we paid our money on the honor system and placed the receipt on the dash even though we didn’t have a pen to fill out the information.

Sabbaday Falls makes for a great stop along the Kank

There are a number of campgrounds along the way and some other scenic spots.  A word of warning.  Do NOT take your RV to the Sugar Hill Overlook as there is no RV parking and you cannot turn around – it is a dead end and you will have to reverse out into traffic.  This is not marked.  The Sugar Hill Scenic Vista pullover does go through and is possible with an RV.  There are other overlooks and we didn’t stop at all of them so please double check and if you can’t see whether it is possible for an RV to make it, assume not.

Plenty of trails along the Kank make it a great byway to take your time on and discover great swaths of nature that in many cases are not crowded.

Towards the end of the highway you’ll pass Loon Mountain Resort with loads of ski trails.  We stopped at what looked like an indoor shopping mall but turned out to be mostly abandoned except for a doctor’s office and a small coffee shop.  This is along Main Street in Lincoln, N.H. but behind it is the South Mountain Resort. There was a sales office so I’m assuming they were selling condos or timeshares.  We didn’t find out but discovered Seven Birches Winery located inside the newly constructed condo type building designed to look like an old Edwardian lodge but it is way too clean and flawless to be authentic.

The Seven Birches Winery was lots of fun with their five wine tasting flight

We had lots of fun sampling five different types of wine and then, of course, opted to buy some.  I particularly liked the blueberry which I bought and shared at a party recently upon returning to rave reviews.  A nice way to spend some time as long as you’re not the driver.  Back in town we had dinner at Brittany’s also in Lincoln, N.H.  Later we visited North Woodstock just past the exit from the interstate (where the official visitors center is located).  This is a nice little town also and has a great general store, ice cream and candy shops and some restaurants in its main street.

You will find great moments along the entire scenic highway in New Hampshire.  This was at the Rocky Gorge Scenic Site.

We dined another night at the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery.  It is a warren of rooms and buildings and includes indoor and outdoor seating, multiple bars, a brewery with a retail component and quite frankly is something you can’t miss if rambling around the small town so go for it.  We enjoyed the food and the service was good though the staff appeared as though they could use a course in customer service there was nothing egregious to report on.

The Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery is definitely the place to be dining or drinking outside in the summer.

All in, this is a great introduction to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the welcome center can easily offer you much better guidance on details depending on your needs.  But whatever you do, don’t miss the drive along the Kank and the little towns on each end.  Enjoy the journey.




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