Travelling, whether with friends and family or with your kids, can be bewildering especially if it’s a new area. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a weekend getaway and being told you missed the best attractions.
Sometimes it’s safer to get recommendations about activities so that you can decide what’s best for you and so you don’t miss out on the good stuff. That’s what we are here for!
Franconia Notch State Park is an often overlooked park that has a myriad of activities and trails to hike as well as camping grounds to spend a night under the stars.
The park is located within White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. In the park there is lots of fun to be had, so much that you might need help figuring it out.
There are mountain trails to hike, waterfalls to gaze at and bridges to traverse.
We have found the most popular and enjoyable activities in Franconia Notch State Park so that you don’t have to waste any more time getting there. Read this guide to plan your perfect weekend in Franconia Notch State Park!
Flume Gorge is one of the many natural wonders within Franconia Notch State Park.The gorge was naturally formed millions of years ago and created many marvelous sights to see and explore. We’ve listed the best, as there can be a lot of stuff to do even in this one area.
For your information, the gorge is always open to recreational use even in the off season. During the off season it can get quite dangerous up here though,
naturally the rocks will become slippery as ice forms and the park will be monitored less by park rangers. Pets aren’t permitted in this area, only on the specifically labelled dog hikes.
There is also a fee to pay as you enter, but kids 5 and under go free. The gorge closes at 4pm, just in time for dinner!
The Flume Covered Bridge
Visit one of the oldest bridges in the state of New Hampshire in Flume Gorge. The bridge crosses the Pemigewasset River and has some great views.
The shelter provided can provide a welcome moment out of the rain, or historically the bridge is recognised as a ‘kissing bridge’ for the darkness and privacy is afforded the lovers at night, making it a popular proposal spot.
This 45 foot waterfall is one to behold rather than climb. Its rushing water roars as it enters the gorge and is beautiful to gaze upon its aquatic force.
Apparently, the falls were formed by a great storm in 1883 which washed away a boulder which previously held the water back, hence the name ‘Avalanche Falls’.
New Hampshire is often called ‘the granite state’ and is no more clear than at Table Rock. This is essentially a rock slide made from granite rock that has been worn down over time into a long slippery surface which the water rushes over,
like a big granite tongue from the mountains. At 500 feet long and 75 feet wide, this one for the geologists and geographers of America!
Sentinel Pine Bridge And Pool
The high cliff above the pool is home to Sentinel Pine Bridge. Once there was one of the largest pine trees in the state here that stood proudly above the pool. A hurricane blew it down over the pool and now the trunk of that tree proms part of the bridge.
Below the kissing bridge lies a deep basin within the Pemigewasset river. Here the silty stream grows into a 40 feet deep pool.
You get an awesome view of this pool from the bridge. This is a quaint area perfect for strolling around and taking in the fresh air.
Perhaps one of the hidden gems that not everyone gets to do is Wolf Den. This is something really fun and exciting if you have kids but is a relatively small part of the park at large.
Wolf Den is a narrow single-file path that cuts through the mountain. You will have to crawl through the passage on your hands and knees like a wolf but it’s a super fun and exhilarating experience especially for kids.
Flume Gorge Scavenger Hunt
If you have kids, another great activity is the scavenger hunt. This runs the whole year and is super easy to do, made for little kids who need a push to go explore nature! What’s great is all you have to do is print it out and take it with you on your hike – so easy! Print it here.
Echo Lake Beach
If you want some more aquatic beauty from the park, then Echo Lake Beach will be worth a stop. The lake is fairly unique as it is surrounded by the lush foliage that covers the mountains and trails of the park,
the lake itself sits at around 1931 feet of elevation. Come in the fall to see the beautiful fall foliage reflect mystically off the calm waters of the lake.
Alternatively, in the summer there is a small beach where you can relax and take in some rays. The water is totally fine for swimming, although it may be cold in the fall.
Don’t fancy getting wet? There are paddle boats that can be taken around the lake for a small fee, or rent a kayak or canoe for something more uptempo.
Franconia Notch Bike Path
Live life on two wheels? Don’t fear, there is an awesome bike trail in the park so you can see the sights from your bike! It’s super easy to rent bikes if you don’t want to lug yours down,which is just another thing you don’t have to think about..
The path takes you right round all the sights in the park, a great way to see the whole park relatively quickly without getting distracted while walking. The whole path is 8 miles which is a good average that most people can do pretty easily.
Old Forest In Franconia Notch
If nature is really your thing, you would be remiss not visiting the old forest in Franconia Notch. Forests that haven’t been logged or affected by humans are often rare, especially in North America.
Luckily in Franconia Notch there is a northern hardwood forest that remains well maintained but fairly untouched by loggers.
Here you will find some really old trees, some that exceed 250 years in age, that are really mystical and organic. If you like your trees and nature generally, there is much to appreciate about these ancient woods.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
Traversing all the way to the summit of Cannon mountain, especially by foot, can be a test for the seasoned climber. But the amazing views from the mountain aren’t worth missing out on.
One of the ways we can all appreciate the beautiful views of the mountain is by tramline!
Not only is this the only tramline in New Hampshire, but is actually the first in North America. The cable car travels an astounding 4080 feet to the top of the summit of the mountain in under ten minutes!
At the summit there are some walking trails that show you the most astounding sights, great on a clear day with the potential to see Maine, Vermont, New York and Canada from the summit!
Some chose to take a one way trip walking up the mountain and then take the cable car down.
Also at the summit is a 360 degree observational deck as well as an awesome café to recharge! This is a popular attraction so you may have to book online to guarantee a spot, walk-ins are only accepted when it isn’t too busy!
Cannon Mountain Ski Area
For the winter adventurers and the skiers of America, look no further than the skiing at Cannon Mountain to satisfy your adrenaline urges.
The mountain offers 11 lifts which service 285 acres of skiing area. There are 25 trails as well as the Tuckerbrook Family Area for beginners and small families.
In terms of difficulty there are mainly intermediate and expert routes but there are a good amount of routes for beginners too.
Rent your gear from the many nearby rental services in Peabody Lounge, or bring your own!. There are many great spots to eat and drink,
for all groups, including Lafayette Food Court, Notchview Cafe, Cafe 4080, Tramway Country Store, and Cannonball Pun, all located in the mountains numerous lodges.
Tent And RV Camping
As there is so much to do in the park, some stuff that we don’t even have the capacity to mention,
so we wouldn’t blame those who want to spend a night under the stars so they can spread their adventuring over a few days! There are some different options for camping and RV camping that we will explain.
Lafayette Place Campground
This is a huge campground right in the middle of the park that has all the amenities you need such as: toilets, lodging, showers, public telephone, and a shop in the lodge.
For those who have been hiking, the grounds are just off the regular trail. You need to book and pay before turning up with your gear. This is a great HQ to keep while you see all the sights that are in the park.
Cannon Mountain RV Park
The RV park is located near Echo Lake, perfect for those who want to spend all day at the beach. If you are a winter adventurer, the RV site is also at the base of the Ski area.
The RV park has all the kinds of RV hookups you need as well as toilets on site. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring that you can use too. Remember to make a reservation with the park before you turn up!