I have found myself reminiscing about my favorite travel destinations lately. In the last three years of constant travel around the United States, I have found many places that we truly love. One particular gem that we explored, was New Hampshire’s stunning White Mountains. In August 2016, we spent some time in this awe-inspiring terrain. The experience was incredible…and gave me a sincere longing to return.
Have you been to the White Mountains?…Have you heard of the White Mountains for that matter? Well, I had. I recall coming across the name of this range when teaching my kids the names of the major mountain ranges in the United States, as part of their Classical Conversations memory work. I had no clue where this range was, so we looked it up on the map. And well…that was it.
Fast forward two years…
I decided to search for New Hampshire related travel….and oh my!
I saw a photo of Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park. It was travel altering. Gorgeous. Amazing….we had to go! This lovely photo fueled my research, and I was convinced that we needed to vacation and hike in the White Mountains. Chris agreed…as long as we combined it with a visit to Bar Harbor, Maine.
And so a trip was created…simply because I was inspired in my Pinterest search!
We planned a wonderful trip…and loved all but one part.
The one place that I had longed to hike. The setting I had searched for…
We arrived to hike and explore Franconia Notch State Park and discovered the exorbitant price tag to enter! It would of cost $74 for our family of five to walk to the Flume Gorge and back….a walk that is only 1.8 miles total. Craziness right!? I was devastated. I so wanted to see this beauty…but there was no way we were going to hand over our hard-earned cash for a one hour stop…this was ridiculous! So based on principle…we turned away. I was heart-broken. Looking back now, it still saddens my heart to see such a beautiful place become such a tourist trap…one where they have made it so hard for the American family to enjoy this space and to share it with the next generation. Prices like this might not hinder many couples to explore…but for families with multiple children or retirees that are on a limited budget, this unfortunate pricing is a detriment to the travel budget.
You can click HERE to read about the Flume Gorge Trail and the overpriced admission rates. For those that may think that we overreacted…let me say this, we understand the cost of preservation. We are thankful for preservation and understand that there is a significant cost to maintaining our natural wonders. This out-of-control pricing though, is very anti-family. There…I have finally said my piece about how this New Hampshire State Park is operating. I truly hope that will find an alternate way to fund their needs in the future.
Do not fear my dear reader…we ended up discovering so many other wonderful things in this area, so much so…that this destination is now one of my favorites in the entire country. Here is why…
Hiking Franconia Notch State Park
After exploring the Basin area…we did venture on an absolutely phenomenal hike. It made up for the major disappointment and then some…
That day we hiked 8 miles in all, traversing multiple paths.
We found some of the most unique plants.
The forests are deep…they seem to host every shade of green possible in the color spectrum.
We ended up being challenged with a strenuous hike up a dry river bed.
Which brought us to Lonesome Lake…
This lake is pristine….well, except for the leaches that we discovered along the dam…those kind of creeped us out. Brendan walked into the water and came out with several of these loathsome creatures attached to his feet…well, that prevented the rest of us from cooling off in the water.
One of my most favorite memories of this lake…the board walkway that covered the trail in several spots…
I feel like this path was so iconic to this northern exploration. This photo just screams…”into the woods we go!” I imagine that if Snow White were in the woods…this is where she would find the Seven Dwarfs. Yes, it just felt that magical.
Hiking Lincoln Woods Trail To Franconia Falls
Up in the the lush forests, not too far from the scenic highway, you will find easy access to the Pemigewasset Wilderness. This was another fabulous day hike.
We walked along the rushing river…
And through the forest…
Eventually reaching the ultimate swimming hole.
That was perfect for these crazies to take an exhilarating dip…
Crazy #2…who forgot her bathing suit:
From Franconia you can travel the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, which will form a complete loop through this gorgeous mountain range. It was absolutely stunning to see this time of year, I can only imagine how breathtaking it is when the foliage peaks in the autumn.
This Scenic Byway is a memorable all day event and is without a doubt, a treasure drive for every visitor.
From Franconia, we headed east. The drive was gorgeous! There are many places that would of been perfect to pull over and hike.
We made several stops and absolutely loved each one.
Silver Cascade Falls
Albany Covered Bridge
Constructed in 1858 and renovated in 1970. This landmark is awesome. We loved driving through it, walking on it…and playing in the stream under it.
Fransted Family Campground
We were so blessed to stay at Fransted Family Campground! This campground is the most perfect place to use as a base camp while you explore Franconia and the beautiful White Mountains.
Honestly, we can not recommend it more highly. It is family run, quaint, scenic and quite assessable. Not to mention…it is in the perfect location for exploring this entire region of northern paradise.
The property is beautiful! One of our favorite areas was this large open field. We found a storage shed stuffed with sporting equipment to use during our stay. What says family time more than this? We played volleyball, frisbee, soccer and softball. Really…what can better define a family campground than the accessibility and encouragement of unplugged family time.
There is this great little stream that runs through the property and it is the perfect place for the kids to throw a raft in the water and float down. My kids would hop into the water and float down to the end of the property…the hop out of the water and run back to the top and do it again….and again…and again.
Honestly, we loved the campground so much…that it was difficult to get my kids to go anywhere. They would of been perfectly happy if we never left the property!
This park offered a fun selection of activities during the summer. We enjoyed a lovely ice cream social one night and the kids had fun participating in a round of candy bar bingo.
A few things that set this park apart from so many others were: the customer service, the family-friendly atmosphere, the well-kept grounds, the quaint gift shop/country store and the wealth of local tourism info.
I absolutely love that they keep generous resource books stocked with all of the hiking details and maps that one could want in the front office. This is something that I have found at no other campground. A large assortment of books….detailing the many local activities and adventures that the area has to offer. We grabbed an assortment of materials and sat on the patio as we planned our hikes while the kids played.
Such a simple idea…yet such a blessing to the traveler who wants to make the most of their time.
For more details on this campground you can read my review on Campendium HERE.
The White Mountains are a treasure…an area not to be missed. Of all the places that we could of visited, I am so thankful that we paused in sweet, little Franconia. I suppose I am grateful that I was lured here by that photo of the Flume Gorge. Through that one photograph, we discovered this lovely little pocket of the scenic North.
And you? Have you been to the White Mountains or Franconia Notch State Park? I would love to know of your experience. Please click reply and share with me.