Catching some of the last rays of sunshine before Sandy rolled in, I trekked to well-known Franconia Notch State Park last Saturday. If there’s one park in New Hampshire that’s most convenient to drivers and also has the best variety of year-round outdoor activities, in my opinion, it would have to be here.
Although I’ve seen the high peaks off I-93 many times before, the mystique of this mountain pass always excites me.
On this trip, my plan was to experience the Notch by bicycle. Whether it be riding through narrow urban streets or pedaling up countryside hills, cycling provides a unique thrill that other types of exercise seem to lack. From I-93 North, I took Exit 34A to access the Franconia Notch Recreational Path from the parking lot of the Flume Gorge and Visitor Center.
From there, I was off, pedaling furiously up and down the hills of the paved, roller-coaster like trail while listening to the sounds of the Pemigewasset River below. Orange, brown and red leaves lay neatly to the side of the pavement revealing a clear path to bike on throughout my journey. From the seat of my road bike, it was a smooth, adrenaline filled ride and great workout. There are several large boulders along the trail (some nestled under shady pine trees) to take water breaks after ascending some of the steeper hills. In winter, I have had great fun snowmobiling on this trail but I found biking to have a more relaxed pace. It gave me a chance observe my surroundings and experience this State Park to it’s fullest.
There was a diverse crowd of folks walking, biking, and sight-seeing before Sandy arrived to keep us indoors for much of the week.
After passing passing under the highway through a tunnel I came upon The Basin. This was a great spot to lean the bike up against a mossy tree and venture off the path for a while. I stopped, listened and watched the rushing water whirling around over smooth boulders, which the force of the water created during the Ice Age. There were plenty of spots along the Basin Trail to sit and enjoy the river from nearby rocks.
The weather is expected to be cool and sunny this coming weekend so if you’re looking to escape the city or just want a scenic, quiet, crowdless place to exercise…go for a bike ride, run or walk on the Franconia Notch Recreational Trail! It’s 8.8 miles of fabulous scenery, exciting attractions and a workout that will leave you satisfied at then end of the day.