The Whites are amazing, not just the mountains but also all the great waterfalls. The auto road is longer but definately easier. I agree with TB you don't want to go that route.
My fav hike in the Whites is Mt. Lafeyette, I first hiked it when I was 12 but it's still the coolest. The view from the top of Cannon down the valley with Mt. Lafeyette, My Lincoln and Mt. Liberty on the left is IMHO the finest alpine landscape view in the east. The tallest mountain in the east might be down in NC but the Blacks down there just don't hold a candle to the alpine environment of the summits of the Whites. Good luck, hope you post some pics.