Family Road Trip to New Hampshire

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In June 2021, My Family and I drove our self-converted camper van across the country to experience New England for the first time. Our time was limited, but we didn't want to spread ourselves thin to explore more thoroughly to see the most of what New England has to offer without driving a lot. We decided that we'd focus primarily on the State of New Hampshire on this trip because we felt it had the best mix of charming New England towns and mountain hikes.

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To start our time off in New Hampshire, we go site at the Gilson Pond Campground for the three nights at the base of the mighty Mount Monadnock. This campground is perfect with large campsites, hot showers, clean bathrooms, beach access to the pond (which Id call a lake here in Utah), and was ideally situated for everything we wanted to do in the southern region of New Hampshire. After setting in, we drove about 10 minutes over to the White Dot trail for Mount Monadnock. Although considered difficult for the area, it was pretty straightforward, and my daughter of 4 years old was able to hike the whole thing to the domed granite summit. With no other mountain in the area near its height, the 360-degree views across the New England Countryside on this calm, perfect day were stunning, so we stayed until sunset and hiked back in the dark.


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The following day we drove over to see the Gilsum Stone Arch Bridge. Built-in 1862, this bridge is gorgeous to photograph and has some gorgeous swimming holes just downriver from the bridge. I highly recommend parking at the bridge and finding the discrete trails that lead down to the river to experience this place. Watching the morning light come in under the bridge and relaxing by the river pools below the bridge was a delightful way to start the day.

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From the bridge, we drove south into the largest city in the area, Keene, had some lunch in the beautiful downtown center, and then continued to Madame Sherri Forest. After parking at the trailhead, we took a pleasant stroll over a bridge, past a pond, and thru the forest to Madame Sherri's Castle, where this staircase is located. The hike only took 15 minutes at a leisurely pace. It was tranquil while we were there, and we had it all to ourselves to play with some fun photo compositions while there. I highly recommend visiting but soon after, we saw a portion of the stairs collapse and is currently roped off, which would probably detract from the composition and beauty of the place, but there is also a 2 miles loop hike in the area that would be nice too. We didn't do it.

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The next day we spent exploring more of the countryside and townships in the area. The first stop was the town of Hancock. This charming little town was charming and had an amazing little cafe called Fiddleheads, where we got breakfast. It was really good, and next for was the Hancock Market ( pictured ). After breakfast, we took a walk down to the church and back and felt like we had gone back in time a hundred years.


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We spent the rest of the day just driving around on random roads and visiting different towns in the area. Defiantly recommend doing this if it's your first time in New England as there are so many beautiful hidden gems. We saw a lot of the area, but by far, my favorite town was Harrisville ( shown above and on the lead photo for this report). This town is everything you could ask for in New England, with a lake surround and an incredibly charming town center that reflects on the lake and canal that runs thru town to a bunch of old large textile mills. I would have got food there, but it was late, and things had closed by the time we got to town. I didn't see another tourist while there but maybe because it was late. I was just surprised that I found this place by pure chance instead of the first thing that came up while researching the area. Harrisville is a gem.

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The next day we drove a wondering route north to the White Mountains and found a free dispersed campsite near Franconia Notch State Park. We drove the Kancamagus Hwy into the mountains, which I highly recommend, especially during the falls, as it cuts right thru the mountains over a high pass and offers excellent views the whole way. The next day we got up bright and early to get to Flume Gorge right as they opened at 9 am. This gorge is stunning and easily one of the best hikes in the area, but it is POPULAR and can get very crowded, and being someone that doesn't like crowds, I would go unless I were there and ready to hike when it opened, which precisely what we did. This family-friendly loop hike crosses covered bridges leading into a very narrow gorge with a wooden boardwalk along its walk as it ascends stairs to its top.

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To end our time in New Hampshire, we set our sights on Mount Washington. The tallest mountain in the State and New England as a whole. It is also home to some of the wildest weather and the fastest wind speed recorded on earth. We planned to hike the mountain, but true to its reputation, the weather wasn't ideal. With hiking out of the questions due to weather, we had two options, drive the road which required a permit, which was no longer available, or take the Cog Railway. We took the Cog, and I'm so happy that we did. It was such a fun and unique way to reach the summit, and my daughter LOVED it. Built in 1868, it was like taking a ride back thru time as it climbs 3500 ft to just below the summit at 6,288ft. Although the weather at the mountain base was calm and sunny, the summit was foggy and WINDY WINDY. It would have been nice to see the expansive views from the tallest peak in New England, but honestly, perhaps it was more memorable to experience this mountain while embraced by the weather it is most known for. Our time trip to New Hampshire was perfect, and I look forward to visiting again

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