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New Hampshire 153

Quintessential New England

Mileage36 miles (58 km)
DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.34 minutes
SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.Spring, Summer, and Fall
RoadwaysNew Hampshire Highway 153
ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, pharmacies, etc.Bartlett, NH, Center Conway, NH, Conway, NH, and Glen, NH
3.2 average from 45 votes
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This curvy, two-lane highway is quintessential New England, passing dense forest, secluded lakes and ponds and historic towns. Though New Hampshire is renowned for its impressive autumn foliage, every season offers a unique landscape.

Echo Lake
Echo Lake

Our scenic drive begins in the town of Sanbornville, west of Lake Winnipesaukee, and heads north to Conway, gateway to the White Mountains. If you are coming from the south, use NH-101’s exit 7 and follow NH-125 and NH-16 towards Sanbornville.

If you’re craving water recreation, consider a side trip to Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire. Beaches, small inlets and islands and a myriad of recreation opportunities make this a popular destination. Surrounded by small towns, each feature its own unique friendly atmosphere and provide lodging, dining and shopping. Take NH-109 West to the town of Wolfeboro, known as the Oldest Summer Resort in America.

From Sanbornville, head north on NH-153 which will bring you to historic Wakefield, home to several 18th and 19th-century buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The New Hampshire Farm Museum (M1) preserves and carries forward New Hampshire’s agricultural heritage. Explore the historic Jones house and tavern, see antique carriages and tractors, meet farm animals and tour vegetable, herb and flower gardens. The farm offers many seasonal events and hands-on activities. An entrance fee is charged though it is free to visit the Country Store, plentiful with fresh produce and unique gift items. Lovell Lake is a popular recreation area for boating, swimming, water-skiing and just basking in the scenic beauty.

Continuing north on NH-153, you drive through forest and lakes, tucked into the hills hugging the Maine border. About two miles from Effingham, stop at the Watts Wildlife Sanctuary (H1) on the banks of the Ossipee River. Over 200 acres of mixed forest with wooded swamp are protected, helping the conservation of species and habitats. Explore the Watts Trail. Though less than a mile long, it passes an incredibly diverse range of habitats offering the chance to glimpse Osprey, Great Blue Herons, beaver, mink, river otters and a host of aquatic insects.

Seven miles ahead, is Hoyt Wildlife Sanctuary (H2), once private property now willed to NH Audubon. Two trails wind through uplands and lowlands and shore-side marsh. Grab your binoculars to spot Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Eastern Wood-Pewee and Red-eyed Vireo to name just a few. Winter brings some of the finest skiing, and the haunting beauty of snow-laden trees — perfect for an outdoor adventure. The King Pine Ski Area in Purity Spring Resort is a haven for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more.

Nestled between the White Mountains and the Lakes Region, visit the quaint town of Eaton Center with its idyllic setting on Crystal Lake. Peruse the handmade wares by local cottage industries at the Eaton Village Store and with camera in hand, shoot your own version of Eaton’s Little White Church, the most photographed church in New England. Built in 1879, the non-denominational church is open for weddings and events. Consider a side trip to Foss Mountain Road (T1) which provides a grand view of the Presidential Range. To reach it, turn right (east) onto Brownfield Road, then right on Stewart Road and Foss Mountain Road will be on your right.

Continuing north, our scenic drive comes to an end in Conway, gateway to the White Mountains. Conway is renowned for its historic buildings, cozy inns and shopping both in local shops and outlet stores. Stop at Echo Lake State Park (H3) and its jewel, Cathedral Ledge, a 700-foot high rock formation. For the adventurous, it is a rock climber’s utopia. For others, it is a stunning backdrop as you watch. A mile-long auto drive brings you the easy way to the top for exhilarating panoramic views of the Saco River Valley and the White Mountains. Up for a hike? Try the 1-mile Around the Lake Trail, the 1.2-mile Bryce Path to the top of Cathedral or the 4.2 mile White Horse Ledge Loop. Enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and biking. There is a fee to enter the park and NH residents over 65 and children under 5 are free. Don’t miss the nearby Diana’s Baths Swimming Hole (W1) where a half-mile hike brings you to the cool, cascading waterfalls. Swim in the pools, scramble over rocks, and bask leisurely in the sun. Step back in time and revel in the scenery from a different perspective on the Conway Scenic Railroad (A1). Take the Notch Train or year-round Valley Train through a majestic landscape with live commentary covering history, folklore and points of interest. Trips are of varying distance and price.

From Conway, consider heading north on US-302 on the White Mountain Trail or head west on another great road, Kancamagus Highway.

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