• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #28: The Kancamagus Highway, Lincoln to Conway


The Kanc

NH Route 112 opened in 1959 (though it wouldn't be paved until 1964), connecting Bath in the west to Conway in the East, with Lincoln and US 93 North in between. From Lincoln to Conway the road winds and curves and bends through the White Mountains National Forest, accompanied for gorgeous stretches by the stony Swift River. This 34.5-mile stretch is called the Kancamagus Highway, known to affectionate locals as "The Kanc", and just as often mispronounced as the Kancamangus or the Kangamangus, sometimes on purpose, like frat brothers intentionally mangling a buddy's weird name.

The Kanc is beautiful, and attracts thousands of visitors in the autumn to peep at the breathtaking foliage displays that New Hampshire does better than anyone else. It's a fun drive, with twists and turns and great views and the real possibility of encountering a wayward moose. It's been designated an American Scenic Byway, and for good reason. There are still no gas stations, restaurants, or other modern intrusions other than the two-lane asphalt ribbon snaking through the trees and past rivers and gorges and peaks.

I can remember riding the Kanc as a kid on family summer outings, stopping to wade in the eddying pools at the Lower Falls, and making all the side trips that make summer in the White Mountains such unique, often anachronistic fun, many of which deserve their own postings. We haven't taken our own kids along for the ride yet, but it's near the top of the list when we get back.

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