Find Lost River and Explore New Hampshire’s Heritage

by Sydney Kahl / Mar 04, 2014 / 0 comments

A trip to Kinsman Notch, the Western-most notch of the White Mountains, is a place of many surprises. What exactly is a notch? A notch is a mountain pass- a gap between mountain peaks- that is u-shaped, from a lobe of the continental glacier, plowing to the southeast, scouring the rock in its path. Take Interstate 95 North to North Woodstock, then head West on NH 112 to reach Kinsman Notch. You will see signs on your right, first for the Lost River Campground and then for the Lost River Reservation containing a gorge and boulder caves.


Kinsman Notch, New Hampshire


In addition to stopping for the adventure and scenic wonders that await at Lost River Reservation, where you must pay to enter the gorge, additional attractions appear just past Lost River. These include Beaver Pond, a great picnic spot. You’ll also see the crossing of the Appalachian Trail running from Georgia to Maine. If you hike .3 miles from the trailhead on the left side of the road, you’ll encounter Beaver Brook Cascades. The trek is vertical, with handrails and steps bolted to the rocky slope. Falling water parallels the “trail” for 1.1 miles, sliding down sloping ledges or slabs. In 1.5 miles from the trailhead, you’ll find a lean to with great vistas, and in another 1.5 miles, you’ll reach the summit of Mt. Moosilauke, first climbed in 1773. Mt. Moosilauke is one of 10 peaks on the East Coast over 5000 feet.


hiking Kinsman Notch, NH

Hiking Kinsman Notch, NH


Find Lost River and you’ll discover the ecological and geologic heritage of New Hampshire while exploring caves, pools, and falls in the gorge.  Circular glacial potholes look like someone carved the rock with a giant ice cream scoop, but what really occurred is that lots of glacial meltwater carrying debris slowly ground out the round depressions in the rock. 

Lost River Reservation is within the White Mountain National Forest and is the first area managed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, one of the oldest land conservation organizations in the country. Their 100-year anniversary was celebrated in 2012. Before the White Mountain National Forest was created, Kinsman Notch was heavily logged. The logging process is not good for the water quality of the rivers. No trees on steep slopes means soil erosion. Lost River Reservation was created to protect the water. Visiting the site reminds us about the need for stewardship to protect places such as this and keep them beautiful for future generations.

The main, adventuresome attraction of Lost River is the loop trail that descends the steep gorge. This trail covers a total distance of about ¾ of a mile, down and up over 1,000 steps along a boardwalk.


Loop Trail, Lost River, New Hampshire


One highlight of the Lost River loop trail is the numerous caves with stationary lanterns to find your way - expect to crawl on all fours.  You can bypass the dark, tight squeezes easily enough if you get claustrophobic, and send the braver members of your party to report on the experience. Even on a hot day, the trek is cool in the caves with the river rushing below and next to you.  After you find your way through the caves, there is a cafeteria, and gift shop.


climbing the trail at Lost River, Kinsman Notch, NH


Down the road from Lost River, there’s one last stop: Agassiz Basin, on the right, when you drive back to North Woodstock. Look for gravel pullovers on the right next to white clapboard buildings. There is a waterfall and a gorge with a rock platform that almost forms a bridge over the stream.  Native Americans are said to have jumped the 5 foot span to prove their bravery. See how many rounded glacially carved potholes you can count in the area. 

On your trip to Kinsman Notch you’ll experience a trip through time. You’ll see the evidence of the last Great Ice Age that covered the area with a mile thick sheet of ice, and learn about the history of the Notch while exploring caves and nature of New Hampshire.





Sydney Kahl is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos courtesy and copyright Sydney Kahl