Kancamagus Pass

Kancamagus Pass, a scenic drive in NH during the fall foliage season

Kancamagus Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 874m (2,867ft) above the sea level, located in Grafton County, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The road to the summit is said to be one of the most popular fall foliage road trips in the world.

Is the road to Kancamagus Pass paved?

Tucked away in Northern New Hampshire, the road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called Kancamagus Highway, also known as "The Kanc”, part of the New Hampshire Route 112 (abbreviated NH 112). The highway can be easily accessed from I-93 in Lincoln NH or NH Rt. 16 from Conway NH. It is named for Native American Chief Kancamagus who lived in the area during the late 1600's.

How long is the Kancamagus Pass in New Hampshire?

The road is 56km (35 miles) long, spanning east to west from Lincoln to Conway. It features steep sections, hitting a 7% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Travelers endure a series of hairpin turns before the pass. As the driver of your vehicle it is quite tempting to look at everything around you, due to the beauty of the surrounding scenery. For your safety keep a close eye on the road while driving. A few spots along the road can get a bit narrow. Also keep an eye out for wildlife on the roadway. It is not unusual to spot deer or moose along the side of the road or in the marshy areas.

How long does it take to drive the Kancamagus?

Set high in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, plan about one hour to complete the drive without any stop. However, it’ll take around 3 hours due the views and stops. It offers a very beautiful drive through New Hampshire's White Mountains, especially during the fall foliage season. It’s a popular drive in September and October for so-called leaf peeping tourism. Stop at the pullout to enjoy a panorama of the surrounding forest and to learn about the watersheds east of the Kancamagus Pass flowing into the Saco River and those west flowing into the Pemigewasset River. The drive takes you back in time as you drive through a forest that offers no comforts of the modern day world; no gas stations, no restaurants, hotels or other businesses have pierced their way into the heart of the highway.

Is the Kancamagus Highway open?

This road is usually open all year, but it can be closed occasionally for short periods while crews clear heavy snows. The Kancamagus Highway receives a lot of snow each year. The first snowfall usually occurs before the leaves have fully fallen, and the last snowfall may not occur until Memorial Day. Winter is long along this road, but it is well maintained, and opportunities for winter recreation abound for cross country skiers, snowshoers, hikers, photographers, as well as the casual visitor.

 

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