Best Places to Wander: Three Road Trips
New Hampshire’s topography can turn a casual Sunday drive into a follow-the-dots game involving a dozen different roads, some numbered, some not. Signage is helpful, but GPS often is not, choosing the fastest way over the most scenic or interesting. These drives may be circuitous, but they are meant to be; the joy’s in the journey.
Upper Valley and Western Whites
Head north from Hanover on Route 10, alongside the Connecticut River through the beautiful villages of Lyme, Orford and the Haverhills. From Lyme’s 1808 white church and carriage sheds and the elegant Federal homes along The Ridge in Orford, to Haverhill’s Historic District of 18th-century buildings, you’ll have a quick course in early New England architecture.
Follow Route 10 through Bath, stopping at the state’s longest covered bridge, and Lisbon, where you turn onto Route 117. From hilltop Sugar Hill, where the meadows are blue with lupines in June, follow signs through Easton to join Route 112 just above Kinsman Notch. After stopping at Lost River Gorge, follow Route 118 to Warren, and Route 25A to climb over Mount Cube and back to Orford.
Squam and Chocorua
From Ashland, follow Route 3 to Holderness and Squam Lake. For an eagle’s eye lake view, take Route 113 and watch for the short trail to Eagle Cliff. After stopping in Center Sandwich, take Route 113A to Wonalancet for views of Whiteface, Paugus and Chocorua. Drive through Hemenway Forest into Tamworth to see the beautiful gardens behind Tamworth Distilling’s tasting room. Route 113 continues to Chocorua, where a short side-track north on Route 16 reveals the postcard view of Mount Chocorua reflected in the lake.
Backtrack on Route 16 into Ossipee, following Route 25 west through Moultonborough to Center Harbor, on Lake Winnipesaukee. Route 25B leads to Route 3, returning to Holderness and Ashland.
Travel east from Keene on Route 101 through Marlborough, following signs left to the brick village of Harrisville, home of Harrisville Designs. Continue straight on Dublin Road, climbing over Beech Hill for views of Mount Monadnock, rejoining Route 101 at Dublin Pond. Circle the pond for glimpses of summer “cottages” built when Dublin was a noted art colony.
Follow Route 101 east, taking a right to Jaffrey. There another right on Route 124 leads to an ensemble of historic buildings in Jaffrey Center. After about 3 miles, turn left onto Fitzwilliam Road and cross Route 12 into Fitzwilliam, the postcard image of a New England village around its green. Route 119 leads to Richmond, where a restored Tramp House is opposite the library. Take Route 32 north through Swanzey Center (look right for a covered bridge) and back to Keene.
The author and her husband, Stillman, have traveled every corner of the Granite State to write New Hampshire Magazine’s Our Town column. Find more of their adventures and road trip ideas here or click on a pin on the map below to start exploring.