Photo credit: NHDTTD/Dave Shafer - Family on Cannon Mountain. Franconia Notch State Park.
The “Notch” is a top-notch summertime adventure
By Jacqueline Tourville June 1, 2009
Rugged mountain summits, spectacular views and trails leading to lakes, gorges, and hidden waterfalls. Even without the Old Man in the Mountain looming overhead, the dramatic landscape of Franconia Notch remains one of New Hampshire’s must-see scenic wonders. Looking for the ultimate back-to-nature family vacation? Pack up the bug spray and sunscreen! A visit to this winding mountain pass means endless hours of outdoor exploration.
Entering the region along I-93, a good first stop is the Flume Gorge, located at the base of Mount Liberty and the southern end of Franconia Notch State Park. Created by Ice Age glaciers, visitors to this natural marvel can stick to a series of boardwalks and covered bridges (perfect for young kids) or negotiate the steep canyon steps for an up-close look at the Flume’s rushing water, cascading waterfalls and 75-feet tall granite walls.
Continue up I-93 and you will soon arrive at another can’t miss Franconia Notch attraction, the Aerial Tramway at Cannon Mountain. Here, take an enclosed cable car on a breathtaking ride to Cannon’s soaring summit. Once you’re at the top, follow the summit trails to a 360-degree observation platform and enjoy panoramic views of distant valleys and stunning Franconia Ridge. Before you leave, don’t forget to look for the rock formation that gives the mountain its name.
Not far from Cannon Mountain is Echo Lake, a 28-acre lake offering recreational swimming and canoe and kayak rentals. Easy-to-follow hiking trails criss-cross the entire area here and families have the chance to hike on parts of the famous Appalachian Trail. Staying for a night or two? Find ample tent camping accommodations at state park-run Lafayette Campground.
Another reason to head to the Notch? Throughout June, the nearby mountain villages of Franconia and Sugar Hill come together to celebrate the blooming of the Lupine, the colorful, spiky flower that carpets the region at this time of year. Planned events for the 2009 Fields of Lupine Festival include concerts, kids’ activities, arts and crafts shows and horse-drawn wagon rides through sweet smelling fields of pink, purple and blue.
Stop by the Franconia Notch Chamber of Commerce at 421 Main St. in Franconia to pick up a local map and brochure, or go to www.franconianotch.org for more information. Nearby: Cannon Aerial Tramway Tramway is open daily during the summer season from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 2009 adult ticket price is $13; kids younger than 5 ride free. On a clear day, you can see the mountain peaks of four states and Canada. Go to www.cannontram.com for season pass information.
The Brick Store In business since 1790, this general store in Bath holds the record as the oldest continuously operated general store in the U.S. Stop by for New Hampshire specialties -- homemade fudge, locally produced maple syrup, toys and lots of White Mountains souvenirs. Call for seasonal hours. 1-800-964-2074
3. Franconia Notch State Park You just can’t see everything here in a day (or maybe even a lifetime). Call for seasonal conditions and reservation information for Lafayette Campground. 1-877-NHPARKS
Old Man of the Mountain Museum Just who was the man behind the Great Stone Face? Free of charge, visit the Old Man Museum located in the Aerial Tramway base station at Cannon Mountain (Exit 34B off Route 93). Find history, photos, stories and plans for a future memorial for New Hampshire's enduring state symbol. 823-8800 If you know of other great destinations for New Hampshire families, e-mail your ideas to Melanie Hitchcock, Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.