5 free things to do in New Hampshire

Associated Press Modified: September 20, 2012 at 11:16 am •  Published: September 20, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — For a small state, New Hampshire offers a variety experiences for free in the fall, whether it's scenic drives, hiking, moose watching, browsing antique shops and spotting huge pumpkins. Foliage reports show leaf color has started showing up in the Great North Woods, White Mountains and Lakes regions, and the state just released a foliage tracker to help visitors find the best spots. The state's tourism division has also started a new campaign this year, "Live Free and ...." The fill-in-the-blank play on the state motto, "Live Free or Die," suggests that there many possibilities when it comes to exploring New Hampshire. Here are a few suggestions to enjoy the beautiful foliage, waterways and mountains in the state at no cost:

KANCAMAGUS HIGHWAY: The 34.5-mile (55.5-kilometer) east-west drive on State Route 112 winds through the White Mountains between the towns of Lincoln and Conway. There are no restaurants, gas stations or other amenities; the emphasis is on the stunning natural beauty surrounding you. Visitors can seek out hiking trails, campgrounds and waterfalls. Some areas, such as the Rocky Gorge, were damaged during Tropical Storm Irene but have since been restored. Some color already is showing, but the maple, birch and beech trees are at their peak usually in the first and second weeks of October. Details at http://www.visitnh.gov or http://www.kancamagushighway.com .

CAMPING: Day use and camping fees are not charged at 26 camping sites, trailheads, ponds and picnic areas in the White Mountain National Forest. This is for the adventurous type who wants to backpack in and camp off the trail or at a backcountry shelter or tent platform in undeveloped or wilderness areas. Other free activities include hiking, biking, scenic drives. The trails, some of them heading up a few of the 4,000-foot (1,200-meter) mountains, offer varying degrees of difficulty. For more free opportunities, information and backcountry rules visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain

MOOSE WATCHING: There's still a good chance to view a moose in New Hampshire's North Country through mid-October. Some companies offer moose-watching tours, but the intrepid traveler can set out at dusk on Route 3 in Pittsburg, Route 16 in Errol and other roads to try to spot one. Moose are unpredictable, so it's common to see the "Brake for Moose" signs up north. More information can be found at http://www.nhgrand.com/itineraries.aspx .

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