A NEW ENGLAND DRIVE THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS: MAINE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, VERMONT
This New England drive starts at the Atlantic coast, then continues through Maine’s rugged interior and New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the rolling Green Mountains of Vermont. The scenery is stunning – there are big views of mountains and white pine forests, rushing rivers and old mill towns, plus the glory of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast.
- Portland, Maine: Lively coastal city
With glorious views over Casco Bay and its islands, the largest city in Maine is a popular destination, thanks to its small shops, galleries, restaurants and museums. As well as the lively Old Port, visit the boyhood home of the 19th-century poet, Longfellow, the art and children’s museums.
- Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, Maine: Shaker community
This is the last remaining Shaker community, dating back over two centuries. The small museum houses reminders of the sect’s elegant carpentry and building skills.
- South Paris, Maine: McLaughlin Garden
Perhaps the finest public garden in Maine, this was a 60-year labor of love for self-taught horticulturist Bernard McLaughlin. Known for its lilacs, iris, day lilies and wildflowers. On the Maine Garden and Landscape Trail.
- Paris Hill, Maine: Elegant homes
Off the main road, high on Paris Hill, with wonderful views of the distant White Mountains. Among the elegant homes is Hannibal Hamlin’s, President Lincoln’s vice president. At the 1822 stone library, formerly the jail, ask about the fat prisoner who tried to escape.
- Bethel, Maine: Sunday River Resort
High in the hills, Bethel was a retreat from the summer heat in the 19th century. Today, visitors come year-round to play golf and to ski at Sunday River. To the north is Grafton Notch, where moose are frequently seen; to the southwest, lies the spectacular Evans Notch in the White Mountains.
- Shelburne and Gorham, New Hampshire: I spy moose
Route 2, paralleling the Androscoggin River, leads through the mountains into New Hampshire. Between Shelburne and Gorham, impressive white birches line the road. Both towns are good bases for exploring the unspoiled forest to the north, as well as nearby Mount Washington. This is another region where you may spot moose.
- Mount Washington, New Hampshire: Highest peak in the Northeast
Although you can drive up the 6,288-ft Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, it’s easier to take the guided tour. The top, with its observation area and museum, is usually windy; even in high summer it can be cold.
- Jackson, New Hampshire: Picture perfect
Pinkham Notch brings more vistas of the Presidential range; then it’s on to Jackson. Residents have worked hard to preserve this attractive village, known for its bed and breakfast inns and network of cross-country ski trails.
- North Conway, New Hampshire: Designer outlets
Outlet shopping is just one reason to visit this small town that is within easy reach of several ski resorts. The station (1874) and steam engines have been restored for the deservedly popular Conway Scenic Railroad, with excursions to Conway, Bartlett and the most panoramic of all, to Crawford Notch.
- Conway, New Hampshire: Saco River covered bridge
New Hampshire has over 50 covered bridges, but one of the finest is the Saco River Bridge. Built back in 1890, it stretches for 225ft; find it in Conway village.
- The Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire: National Scenic Byway
One of the most beautiful highways in the USA, ‘the Kanc’ is a National Scenic Byway, named for a legendary Indian chief. No private homes or service stations spoil the 35-mile run that climbs 3,000 ft between Conway and Lincoln. Stop at Scenic Areas, such as Sabbaday Falls.
- Franconia Notch and Bretton Woods
North of Lincoln, in the best-known high pass in New England, are some of New Hampshire’s most recognizable icons. The rock profile that was the Old Man of the Mountain crumbled in 2002, but you can see what it looked like through special telescopes by the roadside. Walk up to the Flume (waterfall in a gorge) and visit Robert Frost Place (former home of America’s favorite poet). Further on are Bretton Woods and the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort. Nearby is the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, over 130 years old.
- Hanover, New Hampshire: Hills and valley
The Connecticut River serves as the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. Here, in the lovely Upper Valley, Hanover is home to Dartmouth College. Founded back in 1769, it is one of many excellent independent colleges and universities in New England.
- Quechee, Vermont: Quechee Gorge
Cross the Connecticut River (given to New Hampshire by King George III) and enter Vermont. Long famous for its 162-foot gorge, Quechee is now equally well-known for the mill, now a stylish craft center for furniture and Simon Pearce’s hand-blown glass.
- Woodstock, Vermont: Then and now
Woodstock saw a major breakthrough in skiing in 1934, when residents hooked a Model T Ford engine to a rope and created America’s first ski tow. Suicide Six, as the hill is now called, has delighted skiers ever since. Outside this handsome town, choose from three attractions: Billings Farm & Museum continues the old ways of dairy farming; the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park conserves a 550-acre forest; and VINS (the Vermont Institute of Natural Science) is known for its raptor center.
- Scenic Route 100, Vermont: Green Mountain scenic drive
Running north-south, parallel to Vermont’s Green Mountains, is Route 100. Dotted with small farms and villages, the views are pretty, with signs for famous ski resorts such as Killington, Pico, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. Ice cream fans head for Ben & Jerry’s factory, to tour and taste (Waterbury).
- Stowe, Vermont: Village charm
Stowe is dominated by Mount Mansfield (4,393 ft), the highest peak in the state. A well known ski resort, visitors in summer walk, cycle and go up the mountain by car or by gondola, to enjoy grand views of neighboring states.
- Burlington, Vermont: Lake Champlain
Stretching for 120 miles, Lake Champlain is New England’s “West Coast”. Busy and buzzing with students, the lakeside city of Burlington is the largest in the state.