The Mount Washington Valley is famous for its fall foliage. Visitors from across the region and the world travel to the area to see the red, yellow, and orange leaves in this striking mountain setting. The foliage is beautiful all around the valley, but there are some places where it is particularly spectacular. Here are five recommendations for where to see the fall colors.
Cathedral Ledge is a two-in-one foliage experience. Viewed from below, at Echo Lake State Park, the granite ledge is imposing and beautiful. The fall colors make it particularly amazing. However, you can also hike or drive up to the top of Cathedral Ledge, which provides a completely different viewing experience. From the vantage point atop the ledge, you look out over North Conway, Cranmore Mountain, Kearsarge, and if you look straight down, the ledges themselves. You’ll often meet climbers finishing their routes at the top of the ledges, too!
Pinkham and Crawford Notches
Both Pinkham and Crawford Notch are world-class scenic areas that offer a wide range of leaf-viewing options. The Notches are divided by the Presidential Mountain range, home of the famous Mt. Washington. As the highest point in the Northeast, the views are unparalleled on clear days. From the Pinkham Notch side, the auto road goes right up Mt. Washington, and the Cog Railway departs from the Crawford Notch side. For other ways to reach the summit, check out our blog post. Mt. Washington is not the only vantage point in the Notches; there are dozens of mountains and hundreds of hikes accessible from either side! The AMC Highland Center or Pinkham Notch Visitor Center are great stopping points for trail recommendations and weather conditions.
The Intervale Scenic Vista
This is perhaps the most accessible and easiest-to-reach vantage point for spectacular fall foliage in the Valley. The scenic vista is right on Route 16, 5 minutes north of North Conway. There is a large free parking area directly at the vista itself. There is also a visitor’s center and picnic tables, so it’s a great place for lunch. Across the street is a country store and an ice cream shop! The vista looks down into the Valley, offering expansive views of the mountains and forests below.
The Kancamagus Highway
“The Kanc” is one of the most scenic drives in the Northeast. Without ever leaving your car, you’ll see beautiful cliff sides, covered bridges, rushing rivers, massive mountains, and of course, the incredible foliage that blankets the valley. There are several fantastic scenic vistas to park at, as well as countless trailheads for hikes of all difficulty ranges. Champney Falls is highly recommended for families and beginner hikers, as it is a gentle and short trail with fantastic waterfall payoffs. The Champney Falls trailhead also leads to the summit of Mount Chocorua, one of the best hiking experiences in the Valley. With 360 degrees views from the rocky summit, it is well worth the hike, especially during fall foliage season.
Located right in the heart of North Conway, the Green Hills Preserve is a fantastic area for leaf peeping. There are three relatively easy hikes in the preserve, as well as a scenic beaver pond. The preserve is managed by the Nature Conservancy, and people of all fitness levels will find a trail suited to them.There are access areas in two locations on opposite ends of the village: one on Thompson Road in North Conway and the other near Walmart. For more information on the Green Hills Preserve, click here to check out our blog post!
Need a place to stay while you’re leaf peeping?
Pinkham Vacation Rentals has over 50 properties to choose from. Visit our website today to find the perfect place to stay during your awesome North Conway vacation!