Nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, and easily accessible from Interstate 93, Lincoln, New Hampshire, beckons travelers to explore its natural wonders and man-made attractions.
Shops and restaurants cloaked in New England-style clapboard houses line Main Street. But it’s the mountains stretching out behind those businesses that shape the illusion of having driven into a postcard (circa 1950) when you turn off the highway onto Route 112—the Kancamagus Highway.
When Jim and I headed to Lincoln on the third weekend in September to attend the New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival at Loon Mountain with our friends Elie and Paul, we were treated to cerulean skies and unseasonably mild temperatures. Perfect weather for spreading a blanket out on a field and watching burly men clad in kilts hurl heavy objects through the air or perching on the bleachers to take in a pipe band.
During the summer and fall months, Loon offers an array of ways to enjoy the mountain. So whether you’re adventurous enough to take in the foliage by plunging over the Pemigewasset River on a zipline or prefer the slower pace of being drawn up toward the mountain’s summit in a gondola that affords sweeping views of the Whites, there’s an activity to satisfy every scenery seeker.
Picking your way down to the Pemi is a must for folks who want to explore the area’s attractions while keeping their feet planted firmly on the ground. A fairly level walking path meanders alongside the river, bumping right up against water’s edge before looping back through the trees to return again. The wide, rocky shore that juts out from either side of the waterway makes this an ideal destination to enjoy a picnic or just squat on one of the boulders poking up from the river bed to watch the current whirl past.
If you have time to venture beyond the heart of Lincoln, New Hampshire, heading up Route 3 will lead you to the Flume Gorge and Visitor Center. Walkways and stairs hug the slabs of granite that rise up around the gorge, allowing patrons to safely enjoy this spectacle of nature. Wearing comfortable shoes with a lot of support and thick sole is advised.
While we were exploring Lincoln, a visit to Lonesome Lake was suggested as a “less touristy” destination, so off we went. This route is billed as an easy family hike, but there are plenty of rocks to scrabble over and gnarled roots to navigate. The trek up was beautiful, and we met day-trippers of all skill levels winding their way up and down the path. Hints of ginger and gold hues were just beginning to unfurl from the canopy of trees swelling above us—a preview for the spectacular display the leaves promised for the coming weeks.
Foliage takes center stage in the White Mountains in the autumn months, but there’s so much more to see and do in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and the surrounding towns. We ran out of time before we’d even scratched the surface of all this area has to offer, but we’re happy to go back and try again. Perhaps next time we’ll tag along for one of the Pemi Valley Moose Tours that promise a 97% success rate of sightings or take in one of the famous bear shows at Clark’s Trading Post.