The Kancamagus Highway, often called “The Kanc” by locals, is a National Scenic Byway connecting the town of Lincoln in the west with Conway in the east. Pronounced “Kanc’-ah-MAW’-gus” (rhymes with Saugus), the name means “Fearless One” and is in honor of the last Sagamon of the Penacook Confederacy. Increased violence between European settlers and natives fragmented the Penacook and drove most into regions further north by the late 1600s.
The Kancamagus Highway follows many of the railroad beds and skidding roads of the defunct EB&L and Swift River logging companies, as well as carriage roads developed by early settlers of the White Mountains’ interior. The routes were eventually connected, then paved and opened in 1959 as the highway you find today. The Kancamagus Highway provides an exclusive look at the inner-most sections of the White Mountain National Forest, sections that could only have been seen by hikers just a few decades ago.
Out of Lincoln, you’ll drive alongside The East Branch of the Pemigewassett River to a peak elevation of 2,855 feet above sea level, then drop down along the Swift River on your way to Conway. As you travel through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, stop and explore the wonderful scenic areas, rivers, waterfalls, hiking trails, campgrounds and historic places that dot the Kancamagus roadside. Be on the lookout for moose and other wildlife — sightings are a common occurrence along this road.
Directions to Next Site:
The next seven stops on our journey will be on the Kancamagus Highway. The first is The Lincoln Woods Visitor Center and Trail located on the left side of the road, 2.5 miles east of Loon Mountain.