In the two months we’ve been living in New Hampshire we have seen all four seasons. Everything from snow and freezing temperatures to humid, 90+ degree days. Over Memorial Day weekend, we had unseasonably warm temperatures so we decided to hit the mountains to cool off. That leads me to today’s topic: Where to Cool Off When It’s Hot in New Hampshire – Kancamagus Highway.
(Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. This helps keep my blog running!)
The “Kanc”, as the locals casually refer to it, is a 34.5 mile scenic drive through the White Mountain National Forest. According to TripAdvisor.com it is #1 of 33 best things to do in Conway, New Hampshire.
Be prepared to put the top down and take in all the beauty you are about to see. If you are interested in camping or hiking, there are several campgrounds and hiking trails to choose from. Or, you can do what my family did, spend the day stopping at each lookout and waterfall. (Pictures are below each lookout spot to give you a preview.)
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If you do decide to spend the night while visiting the White Mountains, be sure to check out Effortless Adventure. They offer help with camping gear rentals, adventures, campsite reservations and more! Their mission is about sustainability as renting means collectively using less gear.
Where to cool off with views
1. Lincoln Woods Trailhead
This was our first stop on the cool off tour. There is a large parking lot here with a bridge where you can cross the river with gorgeous views. Step out over the water and feel the temps immediately go down.
2. Hancock overlook
A lookout with shade to stop and have your lunch or hydrate. As you can see, there was still snow on the mountains despite it being late May.
3. Pemigewasset Overlook
This a quick stop with more views without the shade or pit stops. If you are on a time crunch or trying to get to the water, feel free to pass on this stop.
4. Sugar Hill Overlook
Great views of the Swift River Valley. This stop also has a covered spot to sit, take in the views and cool off.
5. sabbaday falls
- Picnic Tables
Sabbaday Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in New Hampshire. This spot includes benches in the shaded forest at the base of the waterfall. This location is perfect for cooling off in the spray of the falls or wading into the water at the base. Be prepared to hike .3 miles to see the waterfall.
6. Lower Falls
- Picnic Tables
This is a fantastic location to spend the rest of your day! With public restrooms, picnic benches and plenty of shade everyone in the family will be happy. Climb out onto one of the rocks or sit in the water to cool off. Hang your hammock from the trees and take a nap while listening to the water running beside you. Tip: If this spot is too busy for you, continue down the road and park your car in a private location. There is a wide, dirt area along the river with ample space for parking.
This is a short summary of The Kancamagus Highway lookouts and waterfalls. During the heat of the spring and summer, cool off in the White Mountain National Forest. Be sure to pack your swimsuit, plenty of liquids and a picnic. You won’t want to leave until the sun goes down.
Let me know if you have any questions about the area or great locations to capture landscape photography. I’m happy to help!