When it comes to New Year’s Eve, Kendra and I prefer quiet celebration, so when our friends Meg and Marcy invited us to spend the holiday in a cottage in the woods of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, we jumped at the opportunity. Meg booked us two cabins at Sunnybrook Cottages, a small, family owned business located right off Rt. 16 in Albany, NH. If you are looking for luxury accommodations, this place isn’t for you, but if you want a quaint one-room cottage with the basics (heat and indoor plumbing), then this is the place for you! Kendra, the kids, and I stayed in Cottage #1, which also has a kitchen.
Dinner at Cafe Noche
We arrived in the early evening on Monday, set up the twins’ pack & play, and headed off to dinner at Cafe Noche on Rt. 16 in neighboring Conway. The food was decent but the bathrooms were iffy. As moms of young kids, this is an important factor for us when considering a return trip to a particular restaurant. Cafe Noche has two tiny restrooms on either side of an even smaller sink area. There is no changing table, so when Evan needed changing, I had to improvise. There are also no toilet seat covers, so I couldn’t even balance him on the toilet. Thank goodness we always carry a changing pad, but I was not happy about putting it on the grimy floor. There wasn’t even enough room to change him in the bathroom, so I had to do it next to the sink. Gross.
Breakfast, Shopping, and Napping!
By the time we got back to the cottage, we were all wiped and headed to bed. In the morning, Meg and Marcy made us breakfast sandwiches and sausages. The weather was subzero, so we decided to wait until the afternoon to snowshoe. In the meantime, Addie and I hit the L.L. Bean outlet in North Conway and picked up a few things for her at great prices. We also hit up the grocery store where we met a lovely woman who is a second grade teacher and also the photographer for the Conway Scenic Railroad. (I inherited my mom’s gift of gab with strangers. I used to be mortified by her ability to make friends anywhere – in line at the bank or sitting on a park bench. Now I am her.) Addie fell asleep on the way back to the cottage, and joined the rest of my little family for an early afternoon nap.
When everyone finally woke up, Meg, Marcy, Addie and I set off to snowshoe! Because Meg and Marcy had their dogs, our choices were somewhat limited. We ended up returning to a trail we’d explored two years ago on a camping trip – the Boulder Loop Trail off the Kancamagus Highway.
Date: December 31, 2013
Distance: 1.51 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 148 feet
Our Hiking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes roundtrip
Trail Blaze: Yellow Rectangles
Despite having hiked it twice, we have yet to make it more than .6 miles along the Boulder Loop, so I cannot comment on the difficulty or scenery of the ledges or complete loop, but what we saw was gorgeous. After parking in the lot and strapping on our snowshoes, we crossed the historic Albany Covered Bridge, built in 1858. On the other side, we took a right, following a Passaconaway road along the Swift River.
After one tenth of a mile, we turned left onto the Boulder Loop, and proceeded counter-clockwise. Addie was delighted with the huge boulders, something she was too young to appreciate the last time we hiked this trail. She also had a blast playing in the fluffy snow – making snow angels, sliding on her belly down the small descents on the trail, and throwing her body into the snow.
We followed the trail for six tenths of a mile, then decided to turn around since the sun was dipping low behind the distant mountains. The hike back was quick (by then, Addie had tuckered out and I was carrying her in the Ergo on my back), and I was able to snap a few more pictures as we crossed back over the bridge and headed to the car.
Someday we will make the entire loop. Sans snow, it’s a great length and elevation gain for Addison. For a trail map, click here. Also, there is a $3 parking fee which can be paid using the self-serve kiosk in the parking lot.
Directions to the trailhead:
Parking for the trailhead is located off of the Kancamagus Highway, a 26.5 mile National Scenic Byway. To get to the trailhead, cross the Albany Covered Bridge and turn right onto Passaconaway Road. The trailhead is .1 miles on your left. The parking lot is on your right. You can also park in the lot next to the bridge, prior to crossing, and walk across. GPS Coordinates ( N 44 00.313, W 71 14.475 )
From Conway, New Hampshire: Take Kancamagus Highway (State Route 112), 6 miles west, then turn right into the parking lot.
From Lincoln, New Hampshire: Take Kancamagus Highway (State Route 112), 20.5 miles east, then turn left into the parking lot.
New Year’s Eve
After our hike, we headed back to the cottages. I made chili and nachos for dinner, and after all three kids were asleep, Meg, Marcy, Kendra and I played board games into the wee hours of the night. And by wee hours, I mean 11pm. We tried to rally, but knowing the kids would be getting up around 6 made the decision to go to bed an easy one. As uneventful as it was, it was the perfect New Year’s Eve for us – spent with family and friends, and with good food and lots of laughs.
Breakfast at The Sweet Maple Cafe
The next morning we checked out and headed into Conway for a New Year’s breakfast. We spotted the Sweet Maple Cafe as we were driving along Rt. 16, and decided to give it a try. So glad we did! The food was awesome, the atmosphere adorable, and the lattes rocked. I love discovering hidden gems.
Decked out in our New Year’s hats and crowns, we feasted on omelets, maple sausage, pancakes, challah french toast, home fries and breakfast sandwiches. It was a great way to end an awesome micro-adventure, and kickoff 2014.