On our way home from Acadia National Park, we stopped in New Hampshire to see several attractions near the Flume. Continue reading for the attractions we did see near the Flume and the one we wish we had!
Attraction #1: Mount Washington
I’ve been to the top of Mount Washington several times. One time, my brothers were so little my parents had to hold onto their hands so they wouldn’t blow off the mountain. I hiked up the mountain in college with the stern warning if we weren’t to the top by a certain time, to skip going to the top and head back down.
When we got to the base of Mount Washington we debated going up or not. The sun was not shining and there were cloudy skies, but there were patches of blue here and there. At any rate, it’s always a gamble with the weather on top of Mount Washington. It might be a sunny day with views for a LONG way…or the top might be socked in with gray clouds and fog and really strong winds. You just won’t know till you get to the top.
We decided to chance it and it was well worth the drive to the top!
Driving Up Mount Washington
The quickest way up the mountain is to drive up the mountain. To do so, you have to go up the Auto Road. Check here for the current rates, but in 2020 it cost us $55 for the car, the driver, and two adults. Plan at least 30 minutes to drive from the ticket house to the parking lot at the top. Plan at least 45 minutes for coming back down.
On the way up and down, point the passenger side mirror down enough so you can see the rear tire. This is VERY helpful in determining how close to the edge of the pavement you are.
The road is mostly paved, but the parking lots are gravel, and the top is a lot of stone. You can run around in flip-flops, but I’d recommend hiking boots, especially if you want to walk down one of the hiking trails for a bit.
Mount Washington Summit
While you’re at the top there are several things to go and see.
Don’t miss the Summit Stage Office with its chains to help hold it to the mountain. Take a look a the thickness of the rock walls on the Tip Top House. Wander out onto the Observation Deck, even on cloudy days you can often see for miles. If you want to wait in line, you can stand on the very top of Mount Washington.
Just be careful in your wandering around – the top of Mount Washington is considered an alpine zone. The plants at the top, in a lot of ways, are more fragile.
The Cog Railway
If you spend enough time at the Summit, you’ll see one or two cog trains chug their way up the mountainside. We want to try the Cog Railway…one of these years!
If you do decide the train sounds like a great way up and down, it’s a three hour round trip. About an hour to the top, an hour to wander around, and then an hour back to the base.
Hiking to the Top of Mount Washington
As I stated up above, I did hike up the mountain back in my college days. If you are planning on hiking the mountain, here are some good pointers from the Cog Railway site:
I can attest to this piece of advice. Even getting an early start and making it to the top by the designated time, we did not reach the parking lot till just after the sun had gone down. The summit is at 6,288 feet; however, the prominence is 6,148 feet. Basically, you have to hike up 6,148 feet and back down again. Even the shortest of the popular hikes is 8.2 miles round trip. Also, DO NOT plan to catch a shuttle, train, or hitchhike down the mountain.
It’s a good idea for you to be physically fit and accustomed to hiking…for a lot of the same reasons as to why you need to start early.
The weather on Mount Washington is notorious for being difficult. It might be Summer at the bottom, but it’s rare for it to be Summer at the top. Bring waterproof layers…and possibly a warm hat and gloves.
If the weather is really bad, turn around and head back down the trail.
Don’t forget to pack sufficient water and trail food.
Some more hiking tips can be found here too.
Driving Back Down the Mountain
Follow the instructions given to you by the Auto Road ticket office – seriously! Put your car in a low gear. Use the pull-off areas to give your brakes a rest. Admire the views from the rest areas.
On our way back down the mountain, we had pulled into one of the rest areas (because I’m paranoid about brakes catching on fire), and the guy who pulled in next to us had smoke pouring off his brakes.
Attraction #2: The Old Man of the Mountain
As you head from Mount Washington toward the Flume, you’ll come across the parking and rest area for the viewing area of the Old Man of the Mountain.
While the Old Man fell down in 2003, but not before making enough of an impact to have his profile on the New Hampshire state quarter! Even though you can’t see the actual Old Man of the Mountain, you can see mock profiles of him at the end of a nice meander from the parking lot.
From the parking lot, walk down the paved path for about 0.2 miles. There’s a small cabin you can look at on the way. At the end of the path is Profile Lake and a view area for looking up Cannon Mountain to where the Old Man used to reside. In the viewing area, there are cut-outs and if you stand in the correct place it’s reminiscent of what looking at the mountain was like when the Old Man was still up there.
You can also access the Franconia Notch Recreational Trail from here as well. The trail is multi-use and will take you to the Basin parking lot…if you don’t want to drive to the Basin down I-93.
Attraction #3: The Basin
The Basin is free and has ample parking, whether you are headed north or south. There are vault toilets here as well and the trails are dog friendly.
This is an extremely popular trail, especially on hot days. While you can’t swim in the Basin you can play in Cascade Brook. The area along Cascade is sheets of stone with waterfalls here and there and holes deep enough to get wet in. It’s a moderate hike along the trails as well, so another reason the area is popular.
After three attractions near the Flume, onto the Flume Gorge itself!
The Flume Gorge
A bit further down I-93 and you’ll find the entrance for the Flume Gorge.
Due to Covid, it’s best if you order your tickets online and get them early. In 2020, the tickets were $16/adult.
We had been here as kids, but while I remembered it best, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I didn’t remember!
Into the Flume Gorge
The trail is a two-mile one-way loop or about 1.5 hours hike. Which wasn’t so bad as the sites were easier to see with everyone going the same direction.
You start off by going through the covered bridge and then past Boulder Cabin and Table Rock.
Then you enter into the Gorge itself.
While in the Gorge you are on elevated wooden pathways that go back and forth over Flume Brook. And while you’re above the brook elevation, you are well below the top of the gorge elevation.
As you reach the end of the Gorge, there is Avalanche Falls. These Falls didn’t exist until a flash flood helped form them in 1883.
Back to the Entrance
Climb the stairs out of the Gorge and then peer into Bear’s Cave. Then along the path till Liberty Gorge.
After Liberty Gorge, you’ll come to the Sentinel Pine Covered Bridge. Stop and take a look at the pool. If it’s open you can also crawl into the Wolf Den.
Then it’s a nice walk past some boulders back to the Visitor Center. Inside the Visitor Center are a gift shop and bathrooms.
Attraction #4: Lost River
One place we wanted to visit but didn’t get tickets in time, was the Lost River Gorge. The tickets for this place sell fast in the summer, so get them early.
We are actually thinking of taking a day trip over to tour the Lost River this summer.
Attractions Near the Flume Gorge
There you have it, three attractions near the Flume Gorge in New Hampshire…and an additional one we missed but hope to see this summer!