At over 6,200 ft Mount Washington is the highest peak in the White Mountains. Apparently where it is and with it’s height in the North East almost all weather patterns cross over it causing sudden changes in the weather. Mark Twain is quoted saying ‘if you don’t like the weather in New England now, then wait a few minutes!’ Not a truer word said.
I had a fantastic day driving through the White Mountains National Park. I took the Kancamagus Highway or Kanc which is 34.5 miles of winding through forests, bordered by rivers and beauty spots.
The forest that smothers the hillsides are so dense that it resembles a carpet. They are spectacular in May and I can see why they are a highlight of any Fall visit to the area. The road runs from Conway to Lincoln and either end has a town with quaint boutiques, cafes and activity rentals to use on the many trails and resorts.
After Lincoln I drove around Franconia Notch and again was amazed at the sheer height of the hills and the dense forestry. Then the weather changed and it started to rain.
The hills were tearing the clouds open and it looked like candy floss covering parts of the hills.
I arrived at the base of Mount Washington to take the oldest Mountain Cog Railway to the summit. The famous Cog Railway has been climbing up gradients of 25% – 34% since 1869. The engines either running on Bio Diesel or Steam have to push a single car for over three miles. It was a fascinating experience made even more memorable by the weather system that gripped the mountain in it’s path. It was hilarious really because you could just about see in front and the first 20 feet of track and about 5 feet to the sides. We reached the summit after 40 minutes and it was cold, wet and foggy.
The clouds were actually there with you and you could see them swirling over the mountain. The observatory has viewing areas, shops, diner and a museum. There were four trains of people up there for an hour with nothing to see or do. Fortunately on the way down the weather suddenly cleared and you could see the ravines and the splendid forests up close.
The round trip took about 3 hours. If you don’t want to take the train there is a scenic drive to the top that costs about $31 for the driver and car and I think extra passengers pay as well.