The Kancamagus highway itself is new, completed in the 1950’s. Mum remembers when it was still a rough dirt road. Today it is paved, and for the most part well maintained with many pull offs and camping areas. Work is underway at some spots to update and repair the older facilities, but most of the route remains in excellent shape, providing a leisurely drive through the New Hampshire wilderness anyone can enjoy at any time of the year. Autumn is the best time, at the foliage bursts forth in its glorious colors, and the lonely Bear Notch Road is open to let you bypass the traffic of Conway and admire lesser seen views of the mountains. Winter after snowfalls arrive comes in a close second, but you are limited by fewer parking areas and access to the numerous viewpoints that dot the twisting winding byway. Not to mention you have to put up with temperatures a full ten degrees cooler and icier than you felt in Lincoln.
Departing Lincoln, we passed the crowded slopes of Loon Mountain, a popular ski resort surrounded by condos and hotels to cater to guests far and near. Like a modern low castle, it lies on the opposite side of the Wild Ammonoosuc River that drains the west side of the Kancamagus Byway.
The river itself is little more than a raging rapid, seething along half frozen atop the boulders that have washed out of the hillsides, awaiting the torrents of water that will come in spring. More a hazardous gash through the woods, the road parallels the river for much of the drive up to the steep turns that take you up through the pass.