Scenic Byways: “The Road Less Traveled”
An overview of New Hampshire scenic cultural byways and national trail
Reprinted by permission from:
New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development
With their well-maintained roads and picturesque landscapes, Scenic and Cultural Byways are a wonderful way to experience the Granite State. They showcase New Hampshire’s varied landscape, from the Atlantic seacoast in the south, to the rich farmland along the Connecticut River in the west, and the woods and wilderness of the far northern reaches of the White Mountains and beyond.
The White Mountains Trail: New England’s most scenic 100 miles
In 1998, the White Mountains Trail was designated a national scenic and cultural byway, the only byway in northern New England to receive this prestigious distinction. The trail incorporates varying topography; mountain and river views; a variety of vegetation areas, from ledge to wetland and woodland; 18th and 19th century buildings and historic sites; and some of the grandest scenery in the eastern United States. The trail is a loop; you can drive its 100 miles in less than a day or spend a whole vacation exploring its natural splendor, cultural richness, historical charm and stimulating recreation.
The trail takes you past several of the White Mountains’ most popular family attractions, as well as the Indian Head stone profile and the museum commemorating the Old Man of the Mountain. Scenic vistas, bike paths and hiking trails can be found in abundance, as well as the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and the historic Mt. Washington Cog Railway. The trail also takes you along the Kancamagus Highway, a National Scenic Byway, from shopping mecca North Conway to ski haven Lincoln. Along the way are campgrounds, covered bridges, waterfalls and even a major moose wallow. The trail ends at the White Mountains Visitor Center in North Woodstock.
Scenic and Cultural Byways: In addition to the White Mountains Trail, New Hampshire boasts 14 state-designated Scenic and Cultural Byways, each with its own unique character and flavor.
Distance: 18.5 miles
Highlights: state parks, historic sites, beaches, islands, ocean views, harbors and resort towns
This byway encompasses Route 1A from Portsmouth to Seabrook and travels through a number of coastal towns.
American Independence Byway
Distance: 21 miles
Highlights: historic Exeter, Phillips Exeter Academy, American Museum of Independence
This circular route passes through the historic towns of Exeter and Hampton.
Amoskeag Millyard Scenic and Cultural Byway
Distance: one mile
Highlights: the American industrial revolution, urban history and river recreation
This route passes through the heart of Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire.
Canterbury Shaker Village Byway
Distance: 12 miles
Highlights: a historic Shaker village, rural farmland, forests, wetlands and colonial villages
Canterbury Shaker Village, a National Historic Landmark, offers tours of its 25 buildings and 694 acres.
Distance: 10 miles
Highlights: agricultural heritage
Trail includes visits to Londonderry’s five apple orchards.
Currier and Ives Trail
Distance: 30 miles
Highlights: Native American heritage
Trail takes travelers on a tour of quintessential New England through towns such as Hopkinton, Henniker, Warner and Webster and a visit to the Kearsarge Indian Museum.
Lake Sunapee Scenic and Cultural Byway
Distance: 25 miles
Highlights: state beach, wildlife refuge, scenic shoreline, boat tours and year-round recreation
This route borders Lake Sunapee and is a slower paced and beautiful alternative to Interstate 89.
Branch River Valley Trail
Distance: 14 miles
Highlights: agricultural, industrial and tourism heritage
This trail journeys through the small rural towns of Wakefield and Milton and on to the Maine border.
Lakes Region Tour
Distance: 97 miles
Highlights: views of lakes, mountains and villages
The Lakes Tour circles New Hampshire’s largest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee.
River Heritage Tour
Distance: 120 miles
Highlights: river recreation, agricultural heritage, period architecture, natural wonders
This route provides views of the beautiful Connecticut River Valley as it winds through Woodstock, Plymouth, Haverhill and Woodsville.
Presidential Range Tour
Distance: 115 miles
Highlights: four state parks, scenic vistas, historic villages, hiking trails
From Littleton to Lancaster, through Crawford and Pinkham notches on to Bethlehem, this tour offer exceptional views of the White Mountains, with access to abundant year-round recreation.
Woodland Heritage Trail
Distance: 65 miles
Highlights: wood products heritage and interpretive centers, scenic wilderness areas, state forests
This route circles the northernmost section of the White Mountain National Forest and celebrates the wood products heritage of northern New Hampshire.
Moose Path Trail
Distance: 98 miles
Highlights: wildlife viewing areas, national wildlife refuge, state parks, state forests, woodland heritage
Moose, deer and other wildlife are abundant in the Great North Woods Region in towns such as Gorham, Berlin, Errol, Dixville Notch and Pittsburg.
Connecticut River Scenic Byway
Distance: 274 miles
Highlights: historic and cultural sites
This route is a two-state effort between New Hampshire and Vermont highlighting the historic, cultural, scenic and recreational resources along the Connecticut River.