New Hampshire- White Mountains (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, go here to read

Chocorua KOA

For the second part of our trip we moved campgrounds to Chocorua KOA. We were originally only going to stay 4 nights, but ended up extending our stay 2 extra nights. This was located closer to the lakes region of the White Mountains. We had a great site site 98) right on Moores Pond and direct access to put in our kayak and stand up paddleboard. The campground also rented kayaks and canoes. No motors are allowed on the pond. The KOA had a lot of great amenities such as a pool, a playground, and a full activities schedule. It was Christmas in July when we went and the kids were able to meet Santa.

Our site on the pond
Big concrete firepits
Pool- its on the small side and its cold even in July!
Moores Pond (Mount Chocorua in the background)
Moores Pond- taking out the SUP
Socially distant Santa
Christmas wood paintings- most of the acitivites here are no extra charge!

Day 1

Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway/Route 12 is a 34 mile scenic drive that connects the West and East sides of the White Mountains. There are many scenic viewpoints along the way. Going from East to West, some of the first stops are Lower Falls scenic area and Rocky Gorge scenic area. Both areas are worth atleast a quick stop. About 1/2 way down the scenic highway you will see a parking lot for Sabbaday Falls. Less then a 1/2 mile hike will get you to the Falls, one of the easier waterfall hikes we have done.

Rocky Gorge Viewpoint
Lower Falls Viewpoint
Sabbaday Falls from bottom
Sabbaday Falls from the top

Flume Gorge

Flume Gorge is a 2 mile loop trail with lots of features including the Gorge, covered bridges, and waterfalls. It is a paid trail and advance tickets were required ($16 adults and $14 kids). It has some stairs and incline but it isn’t a difficult trail.

Stairs to Flume Gorge
Flume Gorge
One of smaller flumes
One of the bridges
One of the smaller waterfalls

Mount Pemigewasset Trail

Mount Pemigewasset is a 3 mile trail that starts from the large parking lot at Flume Gorge. You can park there without visiting or paying for the Gorge. Its a great moderate hike with beautiful views from the top, although maybe not as spectacular as some of the other hikes.

View from the top!

Seven Birches Winery

Seven Birches Winery is a small winery with a tasting room at Loon Mountain resort. My kids loved that they did chocolate tastings in addition to wine tastings. Afterwards we went to dinner across the street at One Love Brewery, which was excellent!

N enjoying her chocolate samples

Day 2

Alpine Adventures Zip Line

My kids had never been zip lining before, so we decided to try it out. We booked the Treetop Adventure tour which was the most family friendly tour. We were shuttled to the mountain, then took an off road vehicle to the top (this was probably the scariest part of the trip!). Then it was 6 long zipline down to the bottom. It was the perfect start for the kids! We were paired up with only one other family.

The ziplines start with the shortest and closest to the ground
They get higher- can you spot N through the trees?

Loon Mountain Gondola

We headed over to Loon Mountain next and took the Gondola 1.3 miles to the top. Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy at the top so we didn’t get great views. There isn’t much up there and I definitely thought it was overpriced at $22 adult/$17 a kid.

Cloudy Day from the Lookout

Day 3

West Rattlesnake Mountain Trail

West Rattlesnake Mountain via Old Bridge Path is a 3.7 mile heavily used round trip hike. There are two parking lots on both sides of the trail, but when we got there on a weekend morning both were full with people waiting. We ended up driving up the road a little to Mount Morgan trailhead and getting one of the last spots there. We did have to walk along a main road to access the trailhead. The summit was one of the prettiest views we have seen!

View of Squam Lake from West Rattlesnake Mountain

Chocorua Lake

Chocorua Lake was a lake we had passed a few times coming in and out of the campground and we decided to visit in the afternoon. There is a small parking lot but we were able to get a spot and access the lake. It was a great spot for rafts and floating!

Swimming Chocorua Lake (rocky bottom!)
Floating the afternoon away

Day 4

Down Day/Whippletree Winery

Since we decided to do the difficult Franconia Loop Trail the next day, we took a down day. We did visit nearby Whippletree Winery. It was located behind someones house but the wine was great. There was nobody there when we visited so we were able to do a tasting, even though the sign said patrons must be 21 or older.

Wine Tasting Whippletree Winery

Day 5

Franconia Ridge Loop Trail

On our last day we opted to the Franconia Ridge Loop Trail. This is an 8.6 mile loop and although not the longest we have ever done, it was the hardest. Allow 8 hours even if you are a fast hiker, the rocky terrain makes for slow going. We choose to go up via Old Bridle Path (we went left at the loop) and come down the other side. The start of the trail is not so bad for the first 2 miles, but then it is a steep ascent to the top, scrambling and pulling yourself up over rocks. There is an AMC hut about 3/4 of the way up where you can refill your water and even buy snacks. Once you reach the top, views are spectacular and you will hike above the trees for 1/5 miles on a narrow path.

Views on the way up
Getting higher
Made it to the top! That narrow trail behind her is what you follow
These rock piles help mark where to go next
Brave ones
Views for days
The trail path on top of the mountain

Coming down the other side is no easier, as the steep rocks make it difficult to maneuver. Near the end you reach a waterfall and some water crossings that are very slippery. We all fell a few times. I would not suggest this for novice hikers, make sure you do some of the easier hikes in the area first to see what your capabilities are. If you can do it, the views are some of the best around!

Cloudland Falls on the way down (there are also two smaller waterfalls)

Bonus Stop: Sugarbush Farms, Vermont

On our way home, we decided to jump across the border and stop at Sugarbush Farms in Vermont for maple syrup and cheese tasting. There were some narrow dirt roads to get to the farm, and though the pop up was fine I wouldn’t recommend for a bigger camper. This was about 2 hours into our drive home, and added 45 minutes overall to our trip. It was a fun stop and the kids loved the maple syrup so we bought a bunch to bring home.

Maple Syrup Tastings

Some of the things we did not get to do on our trip that we wanted are visit White Lake State Park. This was very close to the campground and apparently beautiful, but reservations were limited to people camping there due to COVID. Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the biggest lakes in New Hampshire was only a 40 minute drive away but we ran out of time to visit. Mount Cannon Ariel Tramway was also on our itinerary, but closed due to COVID. There are tons of hikes in the area, we choose ours for convenience and ratings but could have easily spent another week hiking the area.

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