There is just something about the mountains that I just love. To me, there is no place more relaxing and that puts me more at ease than the White Mountains in New Hampshire. They are one of the few places that whenever I manage to find myself there, I immediately feel at home. Despite finding an income at the moment putting a damper on my summer adventures, I was able to make it up there this summer for a weekend of camping and hikes. I’m sure it won’t be the last weekend up there for the summer either for the mountains are always calling me.
When you and your travel partner both have work (or had work at the time, darn school year coming to an end…), you don’t have to put off travel until the next day. At least you don’t have to if you’re feeling ambitious.
Now, my partner and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to hit the road until 4:30pm at the earliest. We both work and commute. We know that rush hour starts right around then. We knew that it was going to be a three and a half to four hour drive. It’s a challenge that we could do. Although adding the rain and construction in Springfield wasn’t very helpful. None of the challenges of the long trip were going to put a damper on our mini vacation though.
The drive up to the White Mountains from Connecticut is a long and incredibly boring one. It is even worse when you keep hitting every patch of bad traffic possible before you even leave our tiny state. Luckily, Spotify exists and we can keep the tunes going and switch it up as often as we like. We drove for two hours up to Windsor, Vermont– only stopping once for gas because my little 2004 Pontiac was not gonna make a half a tank last all 213 miles of this trip. Lucky for me, I know that Windsor is home to the smaller Harpoon Brewery that has the better restaurant in comparison to its Boston counterpart. With it being close to 8pm and us being starving, it was time to stop and enjoy a beer and some much needed food. Not to mention we could also pick up a case of our favorite beer for our night of camping on Saturday (try the Summer Vacation mixer box!).
I don’t think I’ve ever seen us eat so quick. Tim, my partner in crime, ordered the bratwurst and sauerkraut while I got the chicken caesar salad wrap with onion rings. As always, the food was fantastic. Much better than just the pretzels you get at the Boston brewery– although all of those are INCREDIBLE. With our stomachs full, we continued on our way to Lincoln, New Hampshire for our one night in a hotel.
Saturday morning, despite a long evening of driving, we were up by 7:30am, getting ready to hit the trails. Since we were on the Franconia Notch side of the mountains, we figured we’d start the day exploring around the area before checking into our campsite. Now, I’ve grown up going to the mountains. Tim had never been so I got to play tour guide, showing off my favorite places in the area. Too bad it was father’s day weekend and Laconia Biker Week so most of the breakfast places I love on this side of the Kanc were super crowded. We found a diner near by and got a quick bite to eat before hitting some trails.
Before 9am, we were heading into The Flume. Now, if you’ve never been to the White Mountains, The Flume is kind of an introduction to the area. You have to pay to get onto this trail but they have a Discovery Pass that gets you in here and round trip on the Cannon Mountain Tramway. With our passes in hand, we hiked through the Flume and watched the Franconia Notch movie at the visitor center. As we headed out of the visitor center, it was obvious that we were beating all of the crowds this morning.
We headed down route 3 and made our way up Cannon Mountain via the Tram. We could have hiked up but all of the hikers we came across said it was super slippery after all of the rain on Friday. At the top, we hiked the Rim Trail and headed up to the observation deck to take in the sights. Beautiful! That’s all I can say. We were above the clouds that had gathered in the notch which gave us quite the view. Although I think gazing across the notch to Mount Lafayette gave Tim some ideas that might be a little bit more challenging than the hikes we did this weekend… maybe next time. After our two short hikes, we wrapped up the morning with a beer (Canon Ale by Woodstock Brewery) from New Hampshire’s highest taps!
With two hikes done, we headed to the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) to check into our site and set up everything. Once we had our tent all set up and air mattress inflated inside (my idea), we were off for a hike up Mount Willard in Crawford Notch. While definitely more challenging than the other hikes we had done that day, it had the best pay off. Once at the top, we had an incredible view from our granite perch while we enjoyed a light snack. On the way down, we took a small but refreshing splash in the frigid mountain stream that flowed alongside the trail, stopping at the Centennial Pool on the way down.
With both of us pretty tired, we made a stop at a local camping trade post to grab food for dinner and some ice for the cooler. It was time to relax. We went for a swim in the “heated” swimming pool at the camp ground before settling in for the night and making a lovely dinner of hot dogs, smartfood, and fruit. Yum! Not to mention we enjoyed a few cold Harpoon Wannamangos and Citra Seas. Perfect way to end a perfect day.
Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a time crunch to get home Sunday. After packing up our campsite and getting everything cleaned up, we headed out to Munroe’s for a quick breakfast while we figured out how to best spend our last few hours in the mountains. We ended up deciding on taking a long drive around, looking for hikes to do next time we’re up there. It was the perfect day for a lazy drive home, despite eventually getting lost as we crossed back into Vermont. We stopped for ice cream and enjoyed some sunshine after driving for a while. Closer to home, we stopped for a light lunch near Wapole, New Hampshire. If there’s one thing about small town New Hampshire and Vermont along I-91, there is always a good local diner or ice cream bar right near the highway!
After being on the road for almost five hours, we wrapped up our nice weekend away.
Below you can find reviews of the places that we stayed for the weekend and places we ate.
Rodeway Inn, Lincoln, New Hampshire– This hotel ended up being much nicer than I was expecting. The bed was comfy, the room was spacious, and check in was super quick and easy thanks to Booking.com! The only complaint we had was the noise of bikers at 7am but that isn’t the hotel’s fault. 4/5 stars
Twin Mountain/Mount Washington KOA, Twin Mountain, New Hampshire- I hadn’t stayed at a KOA since 2006 (ish) when I went camping with a summer camp in Herkimer, NY. This camp ground was great though. The staff was very friendly and incredibly helpful. When we checked in, a staff member (Bill? We called him Maybe Bill) showed us to our campground and offered to help us get set up. Employees kept coming around in golf carts as well, offering to help us however they could. They even did firewood delivery upon request! The camp sites were clean, spacious, and our even had an electric hook up (perfect for our air mattress!). The camp store offered all sorts of things to make your stay easier and even had a sundae night when we were there and a pancake breakfast too! For the value, this camp ground was a fantastic place to spend a night. 5/5 stars.
Harpoon Riverbend Taps & Beer Garden, Windsor, Vermont- This is always one of my favorite stops on the way to the White Mountains. The Vermont location of Harpoon Brewery (based out of Boston, MA), the restaurant here is great. While the food is your basic pub food (listed with their recommendation of the perfect beer pairing), it is always good and worth the fair pricing. The menu offers up a great variety of foods, ranging from salads to paninis to burgers and more. Plus, the food is always good. The only downside, depending on when you go, the wait for your food and be a little longer than you’d like. I’ve never waited for a table, but I have waited a very long time for my food to come out. 4/5 stars.
Sunny Day Diner, Lincoln, New Hampshire– If you’re looking for something quick when everything else is crowded, this is the place for you. The food came out quick and seating was a breeze. Not to mention that most of the menu is very affordable. I do have to say that the parking isn’t the best, but it is better than a lot of restaurants in Lincoln. At least they have their own parking lot. 3/5 stars.
Munroe’s Family Restaurant, Twin Mountain, NH- As far as breakfast goes, this was a great deal. The pricing was perfect and there was a great selection of breakfast and lunch foods. Plus, you get the feeling of eating at home as the inside of the restaurant looks like someone’s living room down to the pictures. Oh, and the food was delicious. 5/5 stars.