Charming and quintessentially New England, the New Hampshire lakes region offers guests an up-close view of its beautiful, historic covered bridges. Explore the New Hampshire countryside in search of these intricately constructed wooden structures. As you circumnavigate many of the beautiful lakes and rivers in the lakes region, it’s easy to see why quaint vacation villages and thriving towns call this area home.
With lots of nature-focused attractions, a road trip to discover these country bridges can be fun for the whole family. Discover state parks, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, hiking, and other gifts Mother Nature has blessed upon New Hampshire.
We have listed seven of the lakes region bridges in no particular order. Choose one or two covered bridges for a visit and fabulous photo opportunity, or carve out a road trip to see them all while you enjoy your New Hampshire getaway.
1. Blair Bridge, Campton
The Blair Bridge spans the picturesque Pemigewasset River in Campton. The first Blair bridge was built in 1829 for $1,000. It was burned down some years later by a man named Lem Parker. The current bridge was built in 1977 for $59,379 and is 292 feet, 10 inches long with a clearance of 13 feet, 3 inches.
The sign posted over the bridge states, “Five dollars fine for riding or driving on this bridge faster than a walk.” Makes you wonder if, at one time, someone was posted at the bridge to keep track and collect the fines.
Nearby is Livermore Falls, a 25-foot cascade falls that is a quick half-mile hike from the parking area. Also close by is Livermore Falls Recreation Area in Holderness, part of the New Hampshire State Park system. The recreation area offers swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking opportunities.
2. Smith Bridge, Plymouth
The Smith Bridge sits over the Baker River in the quaint town of Plymouth.
The bridge is 149 feet, 2 inches long with a maximum clearance of 12 feet. The original bridge was completed in 1786. A replacement was erected in 1850 for $2,720.92. In 1993, an arsonist burned the bridge completely. The new bridge was dedicated in 2001 and cost $3.3 million to build, but it has a weight load comparable to interstate highway bridges and was renamed the Smith Millennium bridge.
If you love camping but don’t have all your own gear, check out Effortless Adventure in Plymouth. It is so easy — order your gear online, pick it up from your private locker, and explore the great outdoors.
3. Squam River Bridge, Ashland
The Squam River Bridge in Ashland connects River Street as it sits atop the Squam River. This sweet little bridge is only 61 feet long and has a clearance of 14 feet, 1 inch.
You can access a covered pedestrian walkway on one side of the bridge. A short stroll down the walkway allows for an up-close view of the internal bridge construction. Additionally, it rewards you with a pretty view of the Squam River.
The Squam bridge was dedicated in 1990 and has a unique history for a covered bridge. It was originally a modern concrete and steel bridge. When the modern bridge was due to be replaced, the townspeople rallied behind the idea of building a one-lane-covered bridge. This new/old structure is a testament to the fortitude of New Hampshire’s government embracing “by the people and for the people.” Cost of the bridge was approximately $200,000, raised through local fundraising events and private donations.
After a day of covered bridge adventures, stop at the White Mountain Brewing Co. in Ashland. Enjoy a pint and some Tex-Mex inspired pub grub while you immerse yourself in the laid-back vibe of the lakes region. The locally inspired brews like the Red Neck Ale or Leaf Peepa Brown Ale will simultaneously tickle your taste buds and your funny bone.
4. Durgin Bridge, Sandwich
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Durgin Bridge crosses the Cold River in Sandwich. The fairly short, 96-foot long bridge with a maximum clearance of only 12 feet, 9 inches and was named after a local gristmill owner, James Holmes Durgin.
The Cold River has washed away three previous bridges: 1844, 1865, and 1869. The current covered bridge was built in 1869. The bridge was given an overhaul in 1983 with a price tag of $48,000. The Durgin was a crossing in the Underground Railroad that ran from Sandwich to North Conway, New Hampshire.
If you love to hunt for antiques, there are several fun shops in Sandwich including The Porch and Willow Pond Antiques.
5. Whittier Bridge, Ossipee
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Whittier Bridge traverses the Bearcamp River in the quaint lake town of Ossipee. This classic wooden covered bridge is 132 feet, 7 inches long. Although it is closed to automotive traffic, it has a maximum clearance of 12 feet, 6 inches.
A long history of repairs and rebuilds began with the original bridge in 1791. The current structure was built in 1870 and renovated in 1983 for $85,000.
A getaway on the lake at this private Vrbo cottage is a peaceful way to enjoy your visit to the area. With four bedrooms, the lakefront cottage sleeps eight, perfect for the entire gang. Offering access to the beach, kayaks, and paddle boat, your stay will be filled with on-the-lake fun.
6. Tannery Hill Bridge, Gilford
The Tannery Hill Bridge, also known as The Gunstock River bridge, is a pedestrian-only bridge that spans Gunstock Brook. Built in 1995, the bridge is 35 feet long with a maximum clearance of 8 feet. This pretty footbridge spans the river gorge and is a picturesque site. It is perfect for staged and impromptu photo opportunities.
Gilford is home to Gunstock Mountain Resort, which is more than a ski resort. In the summer it offers camping in the heart of the lakes region. Centrally located, you have easy access to waterfront fun, hiking, and, of course, covered bridge hunting.
7. Sulphite Railroad Bridge, Franklin
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Sulphite Railroad Bridge is believed to be the only covered railroad bridge remaining in the United States. Also known as the Upside Down Covered Bridge, the Sulphite bridge’s railroad tracks cross on top of the structure instead of running through the supporting bridge structure.
The unique bridge crosses over the Winnipesaukee River and was used by the Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M). Built in 1896, the bridge is 231 feet long. The Sulphite bridge is no longer in use and has deteriorated into a state of disrepair. It is, however, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The cost to repair the bridge is considerable.
The Lower Winnipesaukee River Trail will take you by the bridge along with forest and river views. The 6.1-mile, out-and-back trail is rated easy with some elevation change.
New Hampshire Lakes Region Covered Bridge Road Trip
Road tripping in New Hampshire will have you crossing over the beautiful White Mountains, quaint local villages, and pristine lakes. A road trip through New Hampshire’s lakes region in search of covered bridges is a fun way to see the area’s history while enjoying the natural beauty. With lots of stops in quaint towns along the route and a mission to visit the local covered bridges, you will fall in love with this vacation destination.
To create a road trip loop for your covered bridge hunting, there are several options based on your getaway accommodations. You will skirt around the lakes region exploring some beautiful New England-style covered bridges
One loop is to begin in Campton at the Blair bridge then proceed to the Smith bridge in Plymouth. The next stop is the Squam River bridge in Ashland. After viewing the Squam River, head north to the Durgin bridge in Sandwich. Traverse east to the Whittier bridge in Ossipee, the last one you can drive across. Finally, drive southwest to the Tannery Hill bridge in Gilford where you can walk across the pretty little footbridge. End your journey in Franklin at the southernmost point to view the Sulphite Railroad bridge.
Other New Hampshire Covered Bridges
A classic New Hampshire covered bridge is the Flume bridge in Lincoln. Spanning the Pemigewasset River, this quaint example of a traditional New England covered bridge will charm you into snapping pictures from every angle.
New Hampshire is home to 54 covered bridges, and many are listed or are eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. You can find a complete list of the state’s covered bridges at Visit New Hampshire. This site is a wonderful source for planning your New Hampshire adventure.
As you explore New Hampshire’s beautiful natural gifts, be sure to consider some of the most picturesque hikes in the Granite State. As foliage season approaches, you will love exploring the New England countryside.
Pro Tip: When you add a purpose to your vacation, like hunting covered bridges, waterfalls, or hiking trails, your getaway takes on a defined and focused direction. The adventure of seeking out these beautiful symbols of early American history is a joy for the photographers, historians, and tourists on an exploratory trip across the United States and beyond. Plan to visit the beautiful covered bridges of New Hampshire’s lakes region soon.
New Hampshire has a lot to offer visitors. While you’re here, consider: