New Hampshire’s Geography

When you look at New Hampshire on a map, you will note a curious thing about it. There are three major routes going from the north to the south – Route 16 or the Spaulding Turnpike to the east side, Interstate 93 through the center, and Route 12 and Interstate 91 along the border with Vermont. There are no real good east-west highways to speak of that cross the entire state. This is because of the three major river valleys, lakes, and mountains that divide the state up. And just like the landscape, you have a diverse, divided population of local concerns somehow muddling along to make the state a diversely unique place to live.

Interstate 93 north of Concord is a mountainous region, with steep-sided mountains covered with trees that tower in the distance, growing taller as you approach Franconia Notch. A notch in New England is the same thing as a pass out west – but smaller, since ancient glaciers have worn these gray granite mountains down ages ago. The highway is mostly a divided one, snaking along the easterly slopes of the hills and mountains, the northbound route offering better views as it usually runs slightly higher than the southbound lanes. In the distance, it almost seemed as if it were snowing in the distant peaks where the Old Man of the Mountains formation once cast his gaze southward to warmer climes.

Lincoln is one of a number of small towns clustered along the route, and is a major intersection since it lies on one of the few east-west connections in the White Mountains; the next one north is at least an hour away, just as it took us over an hour to arrive from Alton Bay to the south. Lincoln itself is a cluster of small businesses providing the essential necessities for any town, plus a welcome collection of businesses aimed at tourists who intend to enjoy the ski slopes at Loon Mountain, camping, hiking, or other recreational opportunities. We paused for lunch at the McDonalds, and refueled the car because there are no gas stations along this 32 mile long section of scenic Kancamagus Byway.

Trixie always looks forward to this stop, because she gets something to eat every time!


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