Driving the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
First, let’s get the pronunciation out of the way. It’s the kank-ah-mah-gus. But most folks just call it “The Kank”. The word means “the fearless one” in the native tongue of the Penacook Tribal Confederacy and was the name of an Indian Sagamon who lived in the area in the 1600’s.
The Kank is a scenic drive along New Hampshire’s Route 112 in northern New Hampshire. It was opened in 1959 after two dead-end roads on either side of Kancamagus Pass were linked. The road runs between Conway, NH on the east and Lincoln, NH on the west. It is considered one of the most scenic drives in the US.
The Kank is a rustic road, meaning there are no gas stations, restaurants or other businesses along its 34 mile length. Just off the highway near the Conway end you’ll find the Albany covered bridge.
The Kank rises to 3000 feet at Kancamagus Pass where a scenic overlook reveals miles of unblemished wilderness.
The road descends to its lowest point near the Lower Falls of the Swift River, a favorite recreation spot in the summer where swimmers play among the boulders strewn along its bed.
There are six campgrounds and numerous hiking trails accessible from the Kank. At the terminus of one such trail is Sabbaday Falls, a short 0.3 mile hike from the parking area, and a worthwhile trek.
Near the western end of the Kank in Lincoln, NH Loon Mountain rises to 3,000 feet, a popular ski resort in winter, but lovely to see in the summer as well.
If you’re traveling east to west in the state of New Hampshire, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway is worth going out of your way to see. Just ask any of the locals “Where’s the Kank?” and they’ll point you in the right direction.
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