Recommended dates to drive Route 16
I normally drive up route 16, catching it off of route 95 and traveling North through the lakes region and up into North Conway. The route is not a scenic byway officially but it is a route that I enjoy taking. Route 16 has many little tourist stops and towns as it winds through the lakes region up into the southern white mountains. I usually feel that I’ve been transported back to the 1950s and find it’s visually just an enjoyable drive.
Always remember, the earlier the date that start out, the farther north you’ll have to travel to find the fall colors.
Here are some dates that in an “average” year will get you close to the New England fall foliage colors
- between 1 to 5 October you need to look north of Jackson, New Hampshire. Even up to Gorham and Errol NH into Maine.
- 6 to 10 October – Now you don’t need to drive as far north and you can stop between North Conway to Jackson, take 302 West or south on route 93 and then head East on Route 112 (Kancamagus Highway). You may have looped, arriving back on route 16.
- 11 to 15 October – south of the White Mountains and into the lakes region. Also points south into the Merrimack valley.
Rule 1. I would say, never travel north on route 16 on a Friday afternoon. Travelers are heading up into the White Mountains for the weekend and most jump on 16 for an easy scenic route up into the lakes region or into the White Mountains. Much like going to Cape Cod in the summer at 3PM on a Friday. You simply will never get there… 🙂
Traffic can be an issue which worked out for me
I first found Route 16, as I was trying to drive up into North Conway. I got most of the way up there without too many problems from traffic. But…
I remember passing Tamworth and then a big lake on my left. I didn’t know what it was at the time and then I hit a traffic snarl that was backed up at least a mile or more. Not having the patience to continue as it was late afternoon, I turned my truck around and headed back south on 16.
I spotted the big lake through the trees and then a small dirt road.
I suddenly felt a need to get out of my truck for short bit. I didn’t know it then but this is Chocorua Lake Road and 20 to 30 yards in, there’s a small dirt parking lot. [GPS coordinates, 43.89703, -71.2296] watch out as you come down the big hill heading north as you can zip right past the turnoff.
Chocorua Lake details – 9 & 17 October
The first day I found this spot, I had walked out onto the bridge that separated the lake and the pond, I was captivated by the lake.
Then I turned around to look at the pond. What I saw made me catch my breath. A scarlet red maple was lying on its side, on the surface of the pond.
The next time I was at the lake, was a week later and the color was much more developed. Both of the above shots are of the pond which is called “Little Lake”. (I’m sorry but this is a pond) 🙂
I like the lake sitting below Mount Chocorua but the pond is much more intimate for a photographer and there is a small rustic shack on the far bank across from the bridge which can make for a nice visual element.
I would shoot in the late afternoon, three o’clock or so, for the pond. For the lake, early morning is very good. Mount Chocorua catches the morning light and will reflect it on to the lake. [as can be seen in the last shot]
Jeff "Foliage" Folger You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
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I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.
I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.