Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen
Back to nature
One of the things I love about my hometown now that I am older (and yet hated when I was younger) is how earthy everything is. Growing up, I only had to look out my back yard to see bears and deer strolling by oh so care free with no worry to their stride. Their are always things to explore and adventures to go on in nature. One of the highlights of my trip in August was when I, along with my brother, sister in law, two nephews, and niece, made our way to Lincoln, New Hampshire where the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves are located.
It was a pleasant drive as we drove along the Kancamangus highway which is more winding road and scenic views rather then racing cars and high speed limits. It is close to an hours drive, but with Starbucks in hand and the comedy act of my nephews, it flew by.
Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
The White Mountains are made up of notches that were created millions of years ago during the ice age and subsequent melting of the glaciers when the earth began to warm. That is what created Lost River which is named as such because a brook flows underneath the gorge emerging to join the Pemigewasset River.
Lost River has been a tourist destination for over a hundred and fifty years. It was first discovered in 1852 when two brothers fell into one of the many caves that are scattered throughout. It officially become part of a conservation effort as well as an attraction in 1912 when the Society of Protection of New HampshireForests bought it in an effort to save it from logging.
Visitors will descend three hundred feet before slowly making the journey along a winding boardwalk stopping to explore caves, many of which you can go into. There are about eleven caves with varying levels of size. Some you have to crawl others you can walk through without any issue.
The mile or so journey takes you up and down and up again wooden stairs through the “Lost River” with stunning views of the mountains and several waterfalls. Even if you do not explore the caves, the walk alone, is stunning.
What you need to know
With two toddlers, we took our time exploring, but you can easily get through it all in an hour at the most. While it is considered “hiking,” (though not to this mountain girl who has hiked four thousand footers) there is a wooden path through much of the trail though you still have to watch your footing since their are steep stairs up and down. it is not wheel chair or stroller accessible.
It also is not for the claustrophobic. Some of the caves, especially the famous Lemon Squeezer, are extremely tight with some finagling as you figure out how to get through the rock. There are alternative paths you can take.
While they sell food, you can bring your own and have a picnic which is what we did. With the glorious views of the mountains it was worth it!
We got there at noon and took our time exploring, even going through some of the caves twice. It was a picture perfect Summer’s day in the White Mountains. The water kept the humidity away, so despite the work it took to squeeze through some of the caves, we didn’t break a sweat.
It was actually more crowded then I thought, packed with tourists, but the views and waterfall alone made up for it.
I could have spent hours just gazing at the Waterfall and photographing it.
Alas there were things to do and caves to squeeze through.
Pausing for a photo-op AND rapping my Rangers. Go Blueshirts!
There were lanterns in the caves. Despite that, there were times we needed to use our flashlights on our phones. And because my brother is Bear Grylls in the flesh, he brought an actual flashlight.
It was as much fun for the adults.
As it was for the kiddos.
I loved crawling through the caves, picking and choosing where I was going and how I was going to get out. It was like a real life jigsaw puzzle and is one of the reasons why I love hiking so much. When you get above tree line many times you are forced to pick and choose as you ‘scramble’ over the rocks. This was no different.
Have you ever been to Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves?