NH State Parks is piloting a shuttle service in Franconia Notch State Park. According to a statement, the service offers a safe and legal alternative to parking on Interstate 93 for people visiting the Franconia Notch and the White Mountain National Forest. The shuttle service began Friday, August 3, and run through Sunday, October 14.
Increased visitation to the White Mountains Region, particularly at the Falling Waters/Old Bridle Path trailheads near Lafayette Place, has caused parking lots to fill quickly, resulting in illegal and unsafe parking along Interstate 93. For the past year, state agencies, the White Mountain National Forest and other partners have been working together to explore alternatives to parking on the highway. This included reaching out to the private sector to provide a shuttle service but no interest was shown.
The new shuttle service will operate out of Cannon Mountain’s Peabody Base Lodge (Exit 34C) gravel parking lot. Hikers can park for free in the lot and take the approximately 10- to 15-minute ride one-way to Lafayette Place. Then the shuttle will pick visitors up at the Falling Waters/Bridle Path and return them to the Peabody Base Lodge parking lot.
As this is a pilot program, dogs will initially be allowed and Lafayette Place and Falling Waters/Bridle Path trailheads will be the only stops other than the Peabody lot. The shuttle will run continuously from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Monday (rain or shine). The initial cost will be $5 per person and only cash will be accepted.
“Although a shuttle service is not a normal park operation for us, we felt that we should step up and provide a safe and legal parking alternative for visitors hiking in the park and national forest,” says Phil Bryce, director of NH State Parks. “I commend the Franconia Notch State Park team for their efforts to get the shuttle service launched.”
State officials will evaluate the shuttle service pilot program, adjusting as needed and determining its overall feasibility.
For information on additional available hiker parking lots, parking lot capacity and trails accessed from parking lots, visit franconianotchstatepark.com.