There’s no denying Lincoln, New Hampshire’s adventure town bonafides. Located at the western end of the iconic Kancamagus Highway, Lincoln is in close proximity to some of the region’s most recognizable mountains, home to the super-popular Loon Mountain ski area, and features a main street bustling with shops, restaurants, hotels, and outfitters.

What sets Lincoln apart from other adventure towns is not just the enormous breadth of activities available, but also its ability to cover outdoor adventures of all skill and ambition levels.

Franconia Ridge. | Credit: Tim Peck

Hiking in Lincoln

No matter what type of hike you’re looking for, you’ll find it in or around Lincoln. The traditional start of the Pemigewasset Loop—one of the White Mountains’ preeminent backpacking trips, offering the opportunity to bag 12 of the state’s 48 mountains over 4,000 feet—begins just outside downtown at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead on the Kancamagus. There’s an abundance of other hikes that depart from the “Kanc” as well, including the Hancocks, Hedgehog, and the Tripyramids.

Day hikers love how close Lincoln is to Franconia Ridge. Most trips up and across one of the region’s most recognizable ridgelines begin at the Falling Waters and Old Bridle Path Trailhead, just a short drive north from Lincoln on Route 93. Those looking for more of a challenge can tack on two additional 4,000-footers to their traverse: Mount Flume and Mount Liberty. Further options abound, with Cannon and the Kinsmans—three more 4,000-footers—found right across the street. (Pro Tip: Avoid some of the Franconia Notch crowds using these alternative trails for bagging these peaks.)

There is also an abundance of shorter and more family-friendly hikes. Artists Bluff and Lonesome Lake are both just a short drive from Lincoln and among the best beginners hikes in the Whites. Another favorite hike is to the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, one of the 52 With a View—a list of peaks known for their stellar scenery.


Lincoln sits at the end of one of the most classic road bike rides in the Northeast: the two-wheeled trip on the Kancamagus Highway scenic byway. Over 30 miles long and climbing to an elevation of just under 3,000 feet the Kanc is as scenic as it is challenging and offers stellar views of White Mountain peaks, waterfalls, and even the vestiges of an old logging town. Cyclists looking for more miles—and elevation—can try a “three notch loop,” a 75+ mile trip with more than 5,000 feet of climbing along the Kanc and through Bear Notch, Crawford Notch, and Franconia Notch.

Mountain biking in and around Lincoln has grown in popularity in recent years. In 2019, Loon Mountain opened Loon Mountain Bike Park, which offers nine miles of lift-served riding. Those interested in pedal-powered mountain bike adventures will find expanding trail systems on the other side of Franconia Notch in Bethlehem and Littleton (PRKR MTN).

Climbing The Eaglet. | Credit: Tim Peck

Rock Climb

Lincoln is arguably one of New Hampshire’s best towns for climbing, offering easy access to a lifetime’s worth of climbable rocks in almost every style. Cannon, a short drive from Lincoln, is home to some of New England’s most historic multi-pitch climbs and some of the most adventurous climbing in the state on routes like Lakeview, the Whitney-Gilman Ridge, and Moby Grape. Interested in the path less traveled? Check out Guy’s Slide on Mount Lincoln across the street.

Also opposite Cannon—on the other side of the Notch—is the Eaglet, the tallest free-standing spire in the Northeast and one of the most fun multi-pitch adventures in the state. The West Chimney, the most popular route to the top of this striking feature, requires just three pitches of moderate 5.7 climbing.

Climbers looking to crag will want to visit Echo Crag, which offers a nice selection of single-pitch traditional climbing, particularly in the moderate range. Boulderers will find plenty of pebbles to wrestle in nearby Kinsman Notch, which got its first guidebook in 2020.


There is no shortage of places to take a dip in and around Lincoln. The most notable is Cascade Park—located in Woodstock, the next town over—which features a series of natural slides and pools. More ambitious swimmers can make the little over six-mile round-trip hike from Lincoln Woods Trailhead to Franconia Falls, one of the best swimming holes in the state.

Skiing at Loon Mountain. | Credit: Tim Peck


At its heart, Lincoln is a ski town. Loon Mountain looms over the town and Main Street is dotted with ski shops. With 370 acres of skiable terrain and 28 miles of trails spread across three peaks—served by 11 lifts—Loon is the second-largest ski area in the state and popular with everyone from ski bums to families to first-timers thanks to its wide variety of trails at all levels of ability.

Meanwhile, Cannon Mountain is located just up the street. Sitting atop Franconia Notch, Cannon is a skiers’ and riders’ paradise. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

Ice Climb

Lincoln is within close proximity of plenty of excellent ice climbing. Cannon Mountain is home to a variety of test-piece routes, including the Black Dike, commonly the first ice route climbed in the Northeast each year. Across the notch is Lincoln’s Throat, an alpine climb ascending a gully on the west side of Mount Lincoln and finishing in the middle of the uber-classic Franconia Ridge.

Excellent single-pitch ice climbs which are easily top-roped are found in Flume Gorge, making it a popular location for climbers of all abilities. Kinsman Notch also holds a variety of nice routes ranging from beginner-friendly flows to steep hard climbs like “The Beast.”

Lonesone Lake. | Credit: Tim Peck


There’s plenty of food in and around Lincoln to satiate your appetite for whatever adventure you’re up to.


It’s hard to beat breakfast at Arnold’s Wayside Diner, which serves up classic breakfast fare—think of everything from eggs and omelets to flapjacks and french toast. White Mountain Bagel is a grab-and-go option for those more hungry for adventure than a big breakfast. If coffee is an important part of your morning, make sure to grab a cup at The Moon Bakery and Cafe, one of the best places to rise and grind in the White Mountains.


Black Mtn Burger Co. is a favorite stop for those hungry for a burger and brew—they also have hot dogs and a variety of sandwiches on the menu. Wayne’s Market is a good choice if you just want to grab something quick like a sandwich. (Beer lovers will want to leave themselves a few extra minutes at Wayne’s, their selection is impressive.)


One Love Brewery is conveniently located right in downtown Lincoln and, when in season, has excellent outside seating. In addition to beer, the menu is expansive, offering everything from classics like fish and chips to homestyle meals like pot roast to personal favorites such as chicken and waffles. If One Love is hopping, you can always mosey to the Woodstock Inn Brewery—it’s just a mile-and-a-half away—and has been a staple in the area for decades.


During ski season, the Paul Bunyan Room—or simply, the Bunyan Room—at Loon Mountain is the best place to kick back after a day on the slopes. The Bunyan Room is home to one of the best après scenes in the Northeast thanks to its keep-your-boots-on vibe, large fireplace, expansive deck, lively entertainment, and 30+ beers on tap. Those who prefer a more sophisticated après experience—think cheese and charcuterie plates paired with fine wines and upscale cocktails—will want to check out La Vista, just a short trip from the base of Loon’s South Peak.


There’s no shortage of lodging in Lincoln. In town, you’ll find everything from high-end hotels to budget motels. Like most mountain towns these days, you’ll also find numerous listings on Airbnb and similarly focused sites.

There are also ample car camping options in and around Lincoln. Several campgrounds (Hancock and Big Rock) are situated nearby on the Kanc, Lafayette Place Campground is located just up the road in Franconia Notch, and Russell Pond Campground is located a few miles south of Lincoln.

Mount Pemi. | Credit: Tim Peck

Lincoln, New Hampshire, is popular and consequently can get very busy. If you’re planning to visit at peak times—like the height of leaf-peeping or during school vacation—book early and prepare for crowds.