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Best Fall Foliage Spots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (For 2024)

Best Foliage Spots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Time to get your leaf peeping on! The White Mountains of New Hampshire is the place to be for the best foliage in New England. Sorry Maine and Vermont, you got nothing on the White Mountains. (Yes, they are very nice but I love it in NH!) While all of the White Mountains is spectacular in the Fall/Autumn, there are some spots that just stand out. The following are my absolute favorite spots for foliage in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Some are off the beaten path and others are the very well worn path. (Don’t worry I included a few tips for the very popular spots.) So keep scrolling for the best foliage spots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for 2024.

How to get to the White Mountains

The best way to get to and get around the White Mountains is by car and really it is the only way. If you are driving, just hop onto 93 N and that will take you all the way into Franconia Notch. If you are coming from CT, the best way is 91 N since that avoids the Boston traffic. Since this follows the Vermont/NH border, you will have to cut across some of the state to get to the White Mountains. This does involve some backroads so make sure your GPS is going before you lose service.

Note: Do your best to avoid 495 in MA. It is the literal worst. Every time I drive it, I am stuck in traffic.

If you are flying, the closest International airport is Boston Logan which is 2 hours away. This will likely be your best bet for affordable flights. There is also the Portland, ME airport and Manchester, NH regional airport. Once you land, rent a car then you are on your way!

Peak Foliage in the White Mountains for 2024

According to the Farmer’s Almanac peak foliage for 2024 in the White Mountains of New Hampshire will be the end of September into the first week of October. In my experience, the leaves are still spectacular after the predicted peak foliage.

Best Fall Foliage Spots in the White Mountains of NH: Flume Gorge
The Covered Bridge near the Flume Gorge.

Tips and Tricks during Peak Foliage

  • Start your day early. The White Mountains becomes an international destination in the Fall so start your days early to avoid the massive crowds. This is very important for popular spots like the Kancamagus Highway. It will get so busy on that road that a normally hour long journey could take 3 hours at midday. GO EARLY. I will indicate below which spots, you should go early in the AM.
  • Book your stay as early as you can. Places sell out fast.
  • Same rule for restaurants. If the restaurant accepts reservations, make it. If not, an early dinner could be a game changer.
  • Research the hiking trails you want to climb. Just because they have great views doesn’t mean it fits your needs and abilities. Check out the following sites to help plan your hikes: New England Trail Conditions, Visit the White Mountains and AllTrails.
  • Check the weather of where you are adventuring off too. I have been to New Hampshire where one area got 9 inches of snow and 50 minutes south had no snow at all. Don’t ruin your day by not looking at the weather.
  • Pack layers. As I mentioned, the weather can be unpredictable in the White Mountains. Make sure to bring plenty of layers for all of your nature adventures.
  • Be prepared to drive. The spots listed below are spread out around the White Mountains on mountain roads so everything just takes a bit longer.
  • Be wary of influencers. Influencers will try and sell you that everything is magical and will do this just for the clicks/views. And honestly some of it, is just crap.
Best Spots for Fall Foliage in the White Mountains of NH: Flume Gorge
Go leaf peeping in New Hampshire!

Where to Stay in the White Mountains

Here is a quick roundup of my favorite places in stay in the White Mountains. If you are looking for more details and ideas please check out our guide to the best places to stay in the white mountains.

Map of Fall Foliage Spots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Best Foliage Spots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Kancamagus Highway

The Kancamagus Highway is 34.5 miles long that has an elevation of 2,855 feet and some (if not the best) fall foliage views in the country. The twisting and winding road provides truly dazzling views of the mountains and fall foliage. You can join the highway in Lincoln, Conway and near Bartlett. There are no restaurants and no gas stations. Just you and that gorgeous mountain range. It is truly the best spot for foliage in the White Mountains of NH.

This is NOT a hidden gem. This is very, very, VERY popular. You should get up early, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the morning on the Kancamagus. Then grab breakfast at whatever town you end up in. (If you are in Lincoln, head to Polly’s Pancake Parlor. If you end up in Bartlett or Conway, head to Peaches.)

If you wait until midday, you could be driving for over 3 hours with people driving like molasses and with people who don’t know how to drive an steep twisty roads.

Best Fall Foliage Stops White Mountains NH: Kancamagus Highway
One of the stops on the Kancamagus Highway.

Bear Notch Road

This is a hidden gem and I don’t want to share it with you. But I will because I am just that nice. Bear Notch Road is a seasonal road (closed during the winter) that connects the Kancamungus Highway to Barlett. This is another twisty and winding road with positively spectacular views. It is rarely busy. There are several small stops to pull over and enjoy the mountains. And in my opinion the views are better on Bear Notch Road then the Kancamungus. I have so man fond memories of the brightly colored leaves along the road and outlining the mountain views. This is a don’t miss while leaf peeping in New Hampshire.

Best Fall Foliage Stops in White Mountains of NH: Bear Notch Road
Stop along Bear Notch Road

Albany Covered Bridge

Albany Covered Bridge is a gorgeous covered bridge located on the Kancamagus Highway. The bridge is in a quiet area and spans Swift River. It is just a beautiful spot to enjoy the river and foliage. Highly recommend while exploring the Kancamagus.

Franconia Notch

Franconia Notch is one stunner of a state park. Drive along this mountain pass for stunning views of Kinsman and Franconia Mountain Ranges. Plus it is filled with nature adventures like the Flume Gorge (see below) and Echo Lake. The drive alone is worth it for the stunning mountain views and prime foliage vibes. Franconia Notch has something for every skill set and age. A must visit while in the White Mountains.

The Flume Gorge

The Flume Gorge is one of the most popular attractions in the White Mountains and it is worthy of that title. The Flume Gorge is, you guessed it, a natural gorge that has a boardwalk through it. So you are able to walk along the gorge walls, check out the flora and fauna and get up close and personal with the beautiful waterfall. The gorge is apart of a 2 mile loop that is absolutely stunning. There is a covered bridge, multiple spots overlooking waterfalls, ponds and rivers. Not to mention at peak foliage, the leaves are popping with bright colors along the trail. It is one of my favorite places to enjoy fall foliage in New Hampshire.

With that said, it is also a busy spot. You need to make reservations to enter and pay a small fee. So make those in advance and go early. Try to avoid the weekend as that is always busier.

The Flume Gorge

Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain

Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain are easy to moderate hikes in Franconia Notch. Both have amazing sweeping views of Franconia Notch and Cranmore Mountain. Artist’s Bluff, in particular, has an amazing view overlooking Echo Lake. These are very busy hikes in the Fall due to the view and how it is viewed as an easier hike. So make sure you go earlier on or during the week. Midday on the weekend is miserable. Also, make sure you do your research because if you have mobility issues, really young children or whatever this might not be the best fit. I would consider this a moderate hike over easy.

Crawford Notch

Crawford Notch is a massive state park with over 5,000 acres of land. It is filled with campgrounds, hiking trails, waterfalls, etc. My favorite hike in Crawford is Mt. Willard. (See below.) The drive alone is worth visiting with its sweeping views of the mountains and all the colorful leaves.

I mean look at these colors on one of my hikes.

Mt. Willard

Mt. Willard is one of my favorite hikes in all of the White Mountains. It has a steady incline all the way up and is a moderate hike. This means it is not for everyone. Make sure you do your research on the hike before venturing it out. The views of Crawford Notch at the top are just stunning. It is so worth the effort to get to that vista.

This is a popular hike so go early and avoid the weekends or you will be battling crowds all the way up. Parking can be a bit tight so going early will ensure easy parking, as well.

Elephant Head Trail

This is much more a hidden gem then Mt. Willard. Elephant Head Trail is located very close to Mt. Willard with some parking across from it. It is a short hike with some rugged bits along the way but pretty easy. The Trail ends on a rock that when looking from the ground looks like an Elephant Head. (Surprising, right?) I am including this hidden gem because it delivers a knockout of a view of Crawford Notch. It is seriously beautiful on that Elephant Head. This is a great option for someone looking for a short but easy hike with big rewards at the end!

Best Fall Foliage Spots White Mountains, NH: Elephant Head Trail
Views from Elephant Head Trail.

Visit Santa’s Village

I mean, why not? This is the perfect day trip for a family. Enjoy the foliage while also riding on Rudolf’s Roller Coaster. Make sure to get the gingerbread cookies while in Santa’s Village.

Cathedral Ledge

Cathedral Ledge is perfect for those who want summit views without having to climb/hike. Cathedral Ledge is a steep drive up to a cliff edge then it is a short walk through the woods to the ledge. The ledge is a rockface that many people actually climb up. The very minimal effort will give you breathtaking views of North Conway and the mountains. I mean, seriously, amazing. This should be at the top of your list while in New Hampshire.

Small Mountain Towns

There is something about walking around a small town with a good cup of coffee in the Fall. Throw in some mountains and peak foliage then you got the total Fall package! Below are my favorite small mountain towns to wander around while humming the Gilmore Girls theme song. (I know, basic!)

  • Lincoln and North Woodstock, NH
  • North Conway
  • Jackson (Check out the pumpkin people!)
  • Littleton

Check out the 14 best restaurants in the White Mountains for a great places to eat! 

Best Fall Foliage Spots White Mountains  NH: Lincoln
Lincoln, NH…isn’t she cute!

Take to the skies…sorta

Why not enjoy the Fall foliage from the sky. And by sky I mean a gondola ride.

  • Loon Mountain: This is a popular place to visit in Lincoln, NH. Loon is everywhere from the gondolas to vacation rentals. I can’t tell you how many times as a kid that I rode those gondolas. It is a fun ride in a 4 person gondola to the summer where you can enjoy incredible views and even a restaurant. It is not cheap though with tickets over $25.00. However, this is a good option for those who can’t/have no desire to hike.
  • Wildcat Mountain: Wildcat Mountain has a scenic chairlift ride to the top of their summit. (Yes, I know this isn’t a gondola.) So it is a bit more thrilling to ride then the Loon Gondola and it is cheaper with the price coming in at $17.00. I will say I find the views at Wildcat Mountains to be so much more gorgeous then Loon. It is just a bit more rugged and beautiful. I do love it at the summit.

Take to the Water

There are plenty of waterfalls, lakes and rivers to explore while enjoying the Fall Foliage in the White Mountains, Here are my favorite spots.

  • The Basin and Kinsman Falls: With very little effort you can visit both the Basin and Kinsman Falls. While in Franconia Notch, follow the signs for the Basin and park in one of the many spaces. The Basin is a glacial pothole that was created over 15,000 years ago. It is beautiful and the walk through a peak foliage forest makes it even better. After the Basin, take the short but rugged path to Kinsman Falls. This is a beautiful and long waterfall with plenty of spaces to step off the path to sit on rocks or dip your toes into the water. Highly recommend for the natural beauty and lovely fall foliage.
  • Jackson Falls: Located in Jackson, NH. This is a beautiful and quick waterfall to visit. There are plenty of parking spots to just pull over and hop out to visit the waterfalls. So it is much more accessible then other waterfalls. Highly recommend a quick stop while visiting Jackson.
  • Gibbs Falls: Gibbs Falls is located in Crawford Notch just across the street from the AMC Highland Center. The short but moderate hike to the falls is on the Crawford Path to Mt. Pierce. It is a beautiful walk through the woods to the falls which has a 35 foot drop. Highly Recommend!
  • Saco Bound: Saco River is just beautiful and so peaceful. The water lapping against the stones as you sail past gorgeous mountain views and the bright colors of the leaves. Saco Bound is a company I have used several times for both kayaking and tubing. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the foliage then by kayak on the Saco River.
I mean look at these colors!!!

Your Thoughts…

These are the best Fall foliage spots in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. What spots will you be leaf peeping in? What are you excited to do while in the White Mountains of New Hampshire? Comment below!

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