New Hampshire has 66 covered bridges. Which ones are the coolest? That's a tricky call.
Each covered bridge is a unique construction in a one-of-a-kind, over-water setting. Each historic structure has a story and conjures up nostalgia for simpler times. New Hampshire communities cherish these "kissing bridges," nicknamed for all of the stolen smooches that occurred undercover in the days when public displays of affection were frowned upon.
This map of New Hampshire's covered bridges will help you find them all, but since that's a daunting task, here's your shortcut to 10 standouts that are cool for reasons all their own.
It's the only New England covered bridge with the power to transport you to another state. And it's not just New Hampshire's longest covered bridge at 449'5" long: It's America's longest wooden bridge and the longest two-span covered bridge in the known universe. Enter the bridge on the Cornish, New Hampshire, side, and in minutes you'll be across the Connecticut River and in Vermont, where this marvel is known as the Windsor-Cornish Bridge. Technically, though, this 1866 lattice-truss expanse belongs to New Hampshire, so Cornish-Windsor is the more accurate name.
Location: Cornish Toll Bridge Road (off of Route 12A), Cornish, NH
New Hampshire’s Most Dramatic: Sentinel Pine Bridge
You’ll find this pedestrians-only covered bridge along the two-mile walking trail at Flume Gorge: an impressive natural attraction. From certain photographic angles, Sentinel Pine Bridge appears suspended in midair. It’s actually solidly anchored on opposing banks of this dramatic chasm. Built in 1939, its sides were added in 1984 for safety. There is an admission fee to visit Flume Gorge and to admire the views from this bridge.
Location: 852 Daniel Webster Highway, Lincoln, NH
Bath and Haverhill, towns on opposite banks of the Ammonoosuc River, each chipped in $1,200 in 1829 to build a covered bridge connection. It was a good investment. More than 185 years later, the oldest bridge in the state still adds charm to the landscape. Covered bridge enthusiasts appreciate the bridge’s unique status as the earliest surviving example of a Town lattice truss bridge, patented in 1820 by prolific bridge designer Ithiel Town. In 1920, a pedestrian walkway was added to the north side. It remains open, although the bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1999.
Location: Route 135, Woodsville, NH
It's no surprise to find New Hampshire's most picture-perfect covered bridge along New England's most scenic byway: the Kancamagus Highway. With its White Mountains backdrop, red roof and rustic facade with romantic Xs in the windows, Albany Covered Bridge strikes an alluring pose. The best shots incorporate the rock-studded Swift River, which swirls beneath this 1858 landmark.
Location: North side of the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) 6 miles west of Route 16.
"Cursed" may be a strong word, but poor Blair Bridge has suffered more than its share of misfortune. The original 1829 bridge across the Pemigewasset River was burned down in 1868 by Lem Parker. There were no witnesses, so he was never convicted of arson… even though he confessed in court that "God told him to do it." After a horse drowned crossing the river in this bridgeless spot, a replacement bridge was quickly erected in 1869. Fast-forward to 2011, and this 293-foot bridge again came under assault: This time, Tropical Storm Irene was to blame. Blair Bridge was "impaled with a big tree branch through the center. It was not pretty," according to WMUR. Repaired at a cost of $2.5 million, this covered bridge stands ready for another century of withstanding whatever is thrown its way.
Location: Blair Road, Campton, NH
To earn the title of most romantic, a covered bridge must be painted Valentine red. Check. It must have floorboards that "thump, thump" like a heart beating with desire. Check. And it must be inscribed inside with the initials of hundreds of lovers who've wandered this way before. Check! The aptly named Honeymoon Bridge has welcomed visitors to picture-perfect Jackson Village since 1876. A walkway makes this one-lane bridge a perfect spot for a hand-in-hand stroll. This landmark is also a popular place to pop the question and to shoot engagement and wedding photos.
Location: Main Street/Route 16A, Jackson, NH
It’s the world’s only surviving Howe railroad bridge, but that’s not the only thing that makes Clark’s Bridge unique. This covered bridge at enduring White Mountains attraction Clark’s Trading Post was built in 1904… in Vermont. Entrepreneurs Ed and Murray Clark saw opportunity when the Barre Railroad ceased operations. They purchased the abandoned bridge and moved it piece by piece to its new home. Buy tickets for the White Mountain Central Railroad, and you’ll enjoy an experience rare in all the world: the only 21st-century train ride through a covered bridge.
Location: Clark’s Trading Post, 110 Daniel Webster Highway, Lincoln, NH
Locals call this the Upside-Down Covered Bridge, and it sure looks peculiar. Spanning the Winnipesaukee River, this 1896 Boston and Maine Railroad bridge utilizes the Pratt truss design, but the trains that skirted across up until 1973 did not travel through the middle but instead on rails atop the structure. Although it is no longer safe to cross, Sulphite Bridge is interesting to behold. It’s the last surviving deck-covered railroad bridge in the United States. But sadly, its sides were lost to a fire in 1980.
Location: Park your car on Route 3 in Franklin, NH, at Trestle View Park and walk the Winnepesaukee River Trail
This Paddleford truss bridge—rebuilt and renovated since it originally crossed over the Saco River in 1851—is now the one-of-a-kind Covered Bridge Shoppe, where travelers can buy souvenirs, gifts and home decor items. Open daily from Memorial Day weekend through October and situated adjacent to the Covered Bridge House Bed & Breakfast, it makes a cool destination for fans of these historic spans.
Location: 404 Route 302, Glen, NH
At just 34.5 feet long, Prentiss Bridge, also known as Drewsville Bridge, seems barely necessary. After all, that’s only about 5 feet longer than the world long jump record. But New Hampshire’s shortest covered bridge once carried traffic on the Boston to Canada turnpike. These days, this 1805 antique—the third bridge built here—is open only to foot traffic. Its fieldstone foundation and leafy backdrop make this tiny covered bridge appear straight out of a fairytale.
Location: Old Cheshire Turnpike, 0.5 miles south of Route 12A, Langdon, NH