7 Sensational Ways to Immerse Yourself in Fall Foliage
Updated: Nov 15, 2021
North Conway has the best fall foliage in the country!
We’re quite famous for the bright yellows, oranges and reds that show off their colors in the autumn months.
Leaf-peeping and fall foliage viewing is one of the top things to do in North Conway, New Hampshire. Make sure you’re not missing out!
I personally love our beautiful fall foliage especially from mid to late October when it really pulls into its stride. And yes, you could just look out of your window to enjoy the nice crispy fall feelings or you could head out and have your breath completely taken away by enjoying these fantastic activities in North Conway.
Due to our abundant sugar and red maple trees, New Hampshire has been named by USA today as the best place in America to see fall foliage – specifically in the White Mountains, which is right where Four Seasons Lodge is!
Yes, you can enjoy these views all over New England but wouldn’t you rather enjoy them from where they are the best?
You don’t want to miss out on the beautiful change of seasons that we have up here. They truly are spectacular. So let’s figure out the best places to go to fully immerse yourself in White Mountain views, foliage and crisp fall air.
Right down the street from Four Seasons Lodge is Wildcat Mountain in Gorham, NH.
This ski resort is a great place to ski, board and enjoy some spectacular views year round. The mountain is settled right into Pinkham Notch and has been consistently ranked number 1 for scenery in the East by Ski Magazines Resort Poll.
If you want some vast sweeping views of Mountain Washington, the Presidential Range and its menagerie of fall colors then Wildcat is where you want to go. Wildcat mountain offers an open air chairlift and gondolas which also offer a Gondola Ride and Lunch option. Just in case you want to picnic while you ride up to the top of the summit.
These trips are obviously dependent on weather, but they are well worth it for the views alone (even in the winter, the views are spectacular). Wildcat’s elevation is at 4,422 feet and it gives you a clear and close view of Mount Washington, Huntington Ravine and Tuckerman Ravine.
Wildcat is also part of the Appalachian trail! So it’s also covered in hikes and scenic overlooks if that’s more your speed.
If you’re interested in a more flat ride than the chairlift or gondola then head toward the Conway Scenic Railroad. The 1874 train station is right in the North Conway Village and they offer an old-fashioned railroading experience.
You can choose the Heritage Valley Excursion on the Valley Train or head up the Mountaineer to Crawford Notch. The Heritage Rail Excursion is a 55 minute ride that takes you round trip and is great for all ages!
The Mountaineer into Crawford Notch is 5 - 5.5 hours roundtrip and is noted as “supremely scenic”. This historic train ride is a beautiful ride through the Valley and over Crawford Notch. The cars are built á la the 1950’s to recapture the experience of a post-World War II Transcontinental streamlined train.
No matter which ride you choose you will get fantastic views of the foliage in the White Mountains and if you can swing the whole day for the long one it is well worth it!
If you want to bypass the views of Mount Washington and experience the top of it instead then plan on driving up the Mount Washington Auto Road.
Mount Washington may be home to the worst weather in the world but it isn’t that bad in the fall when the leaves are vibrant and bright!
You can also hike up the mountain if you’re feeling ambitious, or you can take guided tours, or drive up yourself in your own car (you get a fun bumper sticker if you do)!
Just make sure that if you’re planning on taking a guided tour to book ahead, and if you’re planning on driving (no booking ahead required) but to pay attention to the weight restrictions for the car. Don’t pack all of your luggage and then head up as a last minute leaf-peeping experience.
It’s about a 7.6 mile windy, curvy ascent to the peak and can take you about 30 minutes to reach the top.
It’s not recommended for people with a fear of heights, but it is recommended for people who are fans of sweeping views of the Mount Washington Valley and the Presidential Range.
One of my all time favorite places to take in the New England Scenery is on the White Mountain Trail. The trail in its entirety is about 140 miles long and has several scenic byways and breathtaking vistas.
The views are definitely what makes this trail worth it. You’ll pass by the Mt. Washington Hotel which is a leaf-peeping haven in itself, waterfalls, the Appalachian Trail, 3 different notches, cascades and 30 scenic overlooks. Not to mention the historic covered bridges and restored buildings from North Conway's past.
There are many ways to get on and off the trails which will dictate what you’ll actually see on your drive. No matter which one you choose you’ll enjoy some beautiful views!
The Kancamagus Highway is at its best during the fall.
It’s truly beautiful year round but there are some not-to-be-missed spots along the Kanc.
It can get very busy though, so make sure to go early or later in the day to avoid the crowds (there’s better lighting for photos then anyways).
You can drive the Kanc which is 34.5 miles long and the pass reaches 2,855 feet in elevation You can also hike or camp, but even taking a bike along it is worth it!
It is designated as an American Scenic Byway so you know you’re going to be smacked with scenic vistas.
Also, it’s pronounced “Kank-ah-mah-gus” but if you haven’t figured it out already, we locals just call it the Kanc.
There are plenty of sandy beach bars that you can stop to rest and eat at. And most importantly you’ll be surrounded by the colorful foliage and trees that the river is nestled into.
You can rent equipment and use the shuttle bus to get back to your car or organize it all yourself and bring your own! Just make sure to keep in mind water conditions, and that the shuttle buses do not service people who did not rent from them.
It’s a fantastic way to spend the day! Make sure to wear some sunscreen, bring some water and enjoy the ride that the river will take you on.
Last, but definitely not least, on our list is the gorgeous hike to the top of Cathedral Ledge which is right down the road from Four Seasons Lodge!
Cathedral Ledge is a state park in North Conway, NH. There is a mile-long auto road if hiking is not your thing, or there are some easier and some more difficult hikes to the top of the 700-foot ledge.
But it’s well worth it to enjoy the boundless views of the Saco River Valley and the White Mountains.
The ledge itself is overlooking Echo Lake. You can find maps and hiking information through the Echo Lake State Park site here.
At the end of it all, make sure you come and enjoy some of the majestic beauty that North Conway has to offer in the autumn. Our vibrant leaves are going to change and fall whether you come see them or not - but why not come see them?
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by before you have to wait another whole year to enjoy the views!
Thanks for reading! If you need more info please reach out to me
Four Seasons Lodge
North Conway, NH 03860