Cycling Kancamagus Pass East, New Hampshire
Ride 5.3 miles gaining 1,463’ at 5.2% average grade.
“One of the most scenic climbs in this guide, the east side of Kancamagus Pass is a steady grade ascent through woods and with views in places. It is also one of the most popular in the Northeast. It begins as you ride west over moderate grade which eases as you approach a bridge about 0.5 miles in. Just beyond the bridge moderate grade returns as the road flows through graceful turns. The last 1.5 miles are just a bit steeper and then the grade eases as you approach the finish at the signed summit.” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike) in the Northeast, pg. 98.)
This is a climb on moderately busy Route 112 which connects Conway and Lincoln, New Hampshire. This side of the climb has more scenic overlooks than the western approach from Lincoln and is quite beautiful, particularly during the fall. You can bomb up this one with a consistent grade of 5-7% (steepest quarter-mile 7.1%, and steepest mile 6.6%).
White Mountains Visitor Center, Lincoln, New Hampshire
Visit our White Mountains Fall Colors Climb Page
Kancamagus Pass is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, an extremely popular recreation area both during the summer and winter months. The White Mountains cover roughly a quarter of New Hampshire and have many great cycling climbs within its boundary.
We stayed in Lincoln for our White Mountains climb. Lincoln is a bustling yet charming all seasons hub for the White Mountains.
Lower Falls Recreation Site is located between Conway and the start of the climb.
Kancamagus was the final chief of the Pennacook tribe which inhabited this area in the 17th century. Kancamagus means “Fearless One.”
Sugar Hill Scenic Vista -- within the first mile of the start.
Between the scenic overlooks the roadway is bordered by thick forest. Route 112 is popular for its fall foliage. The scenic byway has its own website, here.
“The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive along NH's Rt. 112 in Northern New Hampshire that is well known as one of the best Fall Foliage viewing areas in the country. The Kancamagus Highway is now designated an American Scenic Byway for its rich history, aesthetic beauty and culture.
The Kancamagus Scenic Byway takes you through a path cut through the White Mountain National Forest with breathtaking views of the White Mountains, the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge. The Kanc takes you to an elevation of just under 3,000 feet at its highest point at Kancamagus Pass on the flank of Mt. Kancamagus near Lincoln, NH” (read more here).
C.L. Graham Scenic Overlook just before the pass at the top of the climb.
Traffic and Roadway Conditions: Highway traffic is moderate along the climb. There is often no bike lane or shoulder so cyclists that are traffic averse should give this one a second thought. The roadway was in excellent condition as of September, 2020.