New Hampshire in the Peak of Autumn - - Heaven
This is part two of our trip to the northeast last autumn. After visiting Bar Harbor (Acadia National Park) we headed west a few hours to New Hampshire. Looking at a map of New Hampshire is a bit misleading. Since it is a relatively small state you can move around it quickly. I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it might be a bit like North Carolina in the mountains but it wasn't really. While the mountains were about half the height of those in NC, they just seemed taller. I think it was because you saw more of an abrupt rise in elevation and they seemed to be more peak-like. This gave them a more majestic look in my view. In simple terms, they were gorgeous. With the trees at or near their fall peak colors, the views were beyond belief. I've heard too many times about the great color and thought "yeah, yeah, sure". But they are spectacular and truly worth the effort to see.
We visited the area the first week of October and think the timing was perfect. We came in near Gorham, NH in the northeast part of the state, headed west toward Bethlehem and down to Lincoln where we stayed. Like Bar Harbor, you won't find many national chains so look at reviews closely. Luckily we did find a Holiday Inn Express, which turned out to be very nice.
I was extremely fortunate to know of another photographer who live in southern New Hampshire. We had become acquainted through Flickr and Facebook. He offered to take me out for a day and we had so much fun. Going with someone who knows an area helps so much. You get to the best places at the right time. We had pretty good luck weather wise with rain predicted for early afternoon.
The main highway you want to see is the Kangamagus highway which runs east-west from Lincoln to Conway. The photo opportunities along this area are numerous and beautiful. One of our first stops was right along the highway called Rocky Gorge. Water flow was a bit slow but it was really nice. We got there early enough that there were only a few people. But we did have to be a bit patient for people to move out of view a few times.
Toward the end of the day, we headed north of Conway to another great area to see Crystal Cascade. Clouds were thickening so we knew we didn't have much time. The hike wasn't too long but the trail was a steady rise in elevation. We hustled the best we could with light rain starting to fall. We just had time to set up our tripods and get a few very quick shots before the sky opened up on us. I wish we could have spent a couple of hours around here but the time was late and my friend had a long drive home so we called it a day. A really great day! Thanks Keith.
Another place that my friend told me about was the flume gorge in the Franconia Notch State Park, which is just a few miles north of Lincoln. We was told to be the first one in line as this gets crazy busy so you have to really be fast up the trail to get photos without people everywhere. We ended up being second in line and I apologized to my wife as I took off once the gate opened. A ways up the trail you go into the gorge and walk along a boardwalk. A spectacular place. Since the trail was a little steep most people took their time walking up the trail so I was able to get up the trail to a few locations to take various shots. But people (and my wife) caught up to me. So I did have to manage my tripod on a narrow walkway as people went around us. Some people were very nice and didn't mind taking a break for a minute while I composed and got my shots.
My wife and I walked the entire trail. While it was a nice hike past the gorge, there really isn't any great photo opportunities so I'd wish we would have turned around and headed back through the gorge to the entrance.
Toward the end of the day, my wife was ready to crash so I knew I had another opportunity to get the car and hit a few spots I'd missed earlier. I headed back east on the Kangamagus Highway to Sabbaday Falls. This is another location where you can spend hours. But since I was a tight schedule to get back for dinner, I needed to hustle again and be VERY patient with numerous people visiting the park late in the day. At times I felt some people knew I was waiting for a clean shot and purposely held their positions. But the waiting proved the right choice as I was able to get some nice photos.
Our visit to New Hampshire was a great one. During the fall, I can't think of a better spot to be. This is definitely worth the travel to see. We were very lucky to hit the trees at their peak color.
Keywords: autumn, crystal cascade, fall, flume gorge, franconia notch state park, kangamagus highway, new hampshire, sabbaday falls, water, waterfall, white mountains
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