Field Trip Friday—Flume Gorge, Robert Frost, and Mt. Washington

September 27, 2019

Covered bridge over the Pemigewasset River, Flume Gorge

My husband and I just returned from a 10-day trip through New Hampshire and Maine—a trip intended in part to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary…which happened almost three years ago. I know, there’s something wrong with us.

The trip was worth the wait, and came at just the right time to provide some much-needed rejuvenation for us both. I’ll share a few of our experiences and pictures here on Catching Happiness over the next few weeks—so let's get started!

Our first day was one of our busiest and most exhausting—but also one of the best! We had driven up to stay in Lincoln, NH, the day we arrived so we could get an early start. The plan was to do a hike or two, then drive up to Mt. Washington.

Flume Gorge

Our first stop was Flume Gorge in the Franconia Notch State Park. We hiked a two-mile loop through the gorge and back to the visitor’s center. Lots of ups and downs and stairs and it felt longer than two miles to our Florida legs, but it was well worth the effort, as you can see.

The Pool in the Pemigewasset River--40 feet deep, 150 feet wide, surrounded by 130-foot cliffs

See how the water has carved the rocks?

Tree roots: nature finds a way...

According the park literature, Flume Gorge is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mt. Liberty. The granite walls rise to 70 to 90 feet, and are 12 to 20 feet apart. It was discovered in 1808 by 93-year-old “Aunt” Jess Guernsey when she stumbled upon it while she was fishing! She at first had a hard time convincing anyone else to come see her discovery. Can’t you just see her family saying, “Oh, that’s just Grandma’s active imagination. She couldn’t possibly have found anything like what she described.”

In the footsteps of Robert Frost

I discovered while researching our trip that from 1915-1920, Robert Frost lived just 15 minutes away from Flume Gorge in a farmhouse that is open to the public. For a $5 fee, you can enter the house itself, and you can sit on the porch or explore the ¼ mile “poetry trail” for free. I went inside of course, while my husband enjoyed the view from the porch. Then we both walked the short trail through the woods. I was struck by the simplicity of the rooms and peace of the surroundings. I have my own office in a much larger home, and it made me want to go home and dispose of half of my belongings. And also reacquaint myself with Frost’s poetry.


Reproduction lap desk where Frost wrote

The view from the porch

The Frosts' bedroom

On the poetry trail

On top of Mt. Washington

Next we drove the Kancamagus Highway to Mt. Washington. “The Kanc” is one of the most scenic drives in the U.S., particularly in fall when the leaves have turned. We were too early in the season for fall foliage color, but the drive was still beautiful. We stopped at several places just to look around. 

Our final stop of the day was Mt. Washington, where we drove ourselves to the summit on the Auto Road—and we have the bumper sticker to prove it. Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern U.S. at 6288 feet, and boasts of having “the world’s worst weather”—and they are not wrong.  When we were on the summit, the temperature was 38 degrees, with winds gusting to 72 mph. The drive up is, frankly, terrifying, because there are no guardrails and sheer drops only inches from the road itself.

The view from Mt. Washington

And that, folks, was just our first day! The rest of the trip wasn’t quite so ambitious, thank goodness. 

Come back next week for the adventures of Catching Happiness in Maine!

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  1. Kathy your photos brought back wonderful memories. As a child we visited Franconia Notch. It was one of the most gorgeous places I had ever been. We didn't see Robert Frost's home...that must have been such a treat! In that place one can certainly see why he was inspired :)! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Debbie--We loved the area around Franconia Notch. I'd love to see it when the leaves turn. I agree, too, that that view must have been an inspiration to Frost. It was gorgeous and peaceful.