PHOTO STORY: Dixville Notch

Looking down at a road through mountain pass during a snowy hike into Dixville Notch State Park in Dixville Township, New Hampshire

What do an abandoned ski area, dramatic rocky cliffs, election traditions and a parking lot buried under three feet of snow all have in common? You can find them all in Dixville Notch State Park.

If you follow the outdoor/hiking/foliage scene on Instagram, you've no doubt seen photos of Dixville Notch, even if you didn't realize it. Located just outside Colebrook, New Hampshire, the area is well-known for its Table Rock hike, which rewards anyone with a strong stomach with impressive vistas in almost every direction. The area was/is also home to the Balsams Grand Resort, which operated as a four season destination until about 2011. Side note - the resort's history is fascinating, so I'd highly recommend you read more about it. Anyway, more about this particular photo outing.

My wife and I recently decided to spend a weekend in this area to do some snowshoeing since a big storm had just rolled through. We quickly found Dixville Notch State Park on the list of recommended hikes and set off. Neither of us have done much winter hiking at altitude, and when we pulled into the parking lot to find it unplowed and under three feet of snow, we knew the day would at least be memorable. 

We skipped the Table Rock hike on account of the deep snow and our unfamiliarity with the area, and instead opted for a "path" along Flume Brook. I hadn't planned a photo shoot, but I brought the camera along in case there was something fun to shoot. As usual, that was the right decision. We trudged through the deep snow for about a half mile, without seeing a single other person or animal, until we reached a viewpoint that gave us a dramatic look down at NH-26 and its surrounding cliffs. We stopped here for a good while just taking in the scene, and after a few minutes, a truck was nice enough to drive through the pass for scale. Just look at those cliffs!

I grew up driving the steep mountain roads and notches of Vermont. I've been through Teton Pass in Wyoming and navigated Rabbit Ears during a snowstorm in Colorado. I can honestly say that this view of Dixville Notch ranks right up there with all the rest. We turned back on our hike after this point, satisfied with some much-needed time outdoors in the north country. Next time, maybe we'll tackle Table Rock.

But wait! What's the election tradition?? Well, every time we elect a new President, Dixville Township is always the first area to report its results - earning it the title of "First in the Nation". Pretty cool!

cliffs of Dixville Notch State Park covered in snow