With apologies to Christian Wisecarver, Billy Donohoe, and the rest of the gang at the Super Secret Project, autumn has always been my preferred time to cruise the Kancamagus Highway as it stretches across the White Mountains from Interstate 93 in Lincoln and past Loon Mountain before T-boning Route 16 in Conway. And I have legions of leaf-peepers who will agree with me.
The sheer expanse of forests, full of explosive hardwoods that ignite every September, is simply breathtaking. Literally, breathtaking. The Skittles kaleidoscope of colors, once seen in person, is all but impossible to forget. It almost seems a shame to take in these views through a window. That’s why my preferred method of taking in this spectacular natural fireworks display, unfiltered, is from the seat of my bicycle.
Pedaling this 32-mile stretch of asphalt — officially known as Route 112, which extends west to the town of Bath — during fall foliage is a rare and special treat, in either direction. And the true beauty is that, if you’re feeling strong and decide to pedal out and back for a marathon, 64-mile jaunt, the byway feels completely different when heading in the opposite direction.
You also can drive the route, since the byway has a number of scenic overlooks to the east of the summit of Mount Kancamagus (3,763 feet), allowing visitors to pull over and admire this stunning landscape. Driving also allows you quick access to an exceptional labyrinth of hiking trails that criss-cross the White Mountain National Forest. Want to really immerse yourself? Choose from one of six campgrounds along the byway (Hancock, Big Rock, Passaconaway, Jigger Johnson, Blackberry Crossing and Covered Bridge) and spend a night or two.