Hiking the Franconia Ridge

44°09′39″N 71°38′40″W
One of the most rigorous, yet beautiful, hikes in the Northeast, and absolutely worth it for the views. Located in the beautiful town of Franconia, NH, Mount Lafayette was easily accessible from Route 93 which runs through the Franconia notch between Franconia Ridge and Cannon Mountain. After a late start to the morning, we finally made it to the parking lot around 11:30AM. We knew that this was going to take 6-7 hours, which meant daylight was going to be scarce by the time we reached the bottom.

Our plan was to knock off Lafayette, Lincoln, and Little Haystack all in one loop. So we took off from the parking lot onto Old Brittle Trail, the most traveled of the paths. Old Brittle takes you up the north side of the mountain, allowing you to shoot off from the trail to get scenic photo ops of the Franconia Ridge in the backdrop as you snake your way up the ridge. The hike was broken up as we approached a clearing where the AMC Greenleaf Hut sat on the shoulder of Lafayette. The huts of the white mountains are owned and operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club and are there to benefit the hikers on the Appalachian trail. Stopped in to check it out and talk with some of the other hikers passing by.

After the break, it’s a straight shot up the ridge above the tree line to the summit of Mount Lafayette. As we climbed further and further up, with Cannon Mountain in the background, some of the streams and trickling water had already frozen over. Which was an odd sight to see in early October.

Standing at 5,249feet, we finally were at the summit, and we were not the only ones. There had to have been 30-40 other hikers walking around, conversing, eating lunch, or getting packs ready for the next part of their hikes. It’s a funny sight to see, a congregation of that many people at such a remote location, yet it was a proud sight to see. All of the people standing before us used their own two feet and climbed a mountain on a beautiful,  brisk Saturday morning…. Unlike the car climbers at Mount Washington.

We put down our packs, fumbled through them to find the variety of granola bars that were in there, pulled out our celebratory beers (Tuckerman’s Pale Ale), and had ourselves a nice lunch break sitting high up over the New Hampshire Mountainside. After our lunch, we headed south down the ridge towards Lincoln. From then on it was relatively quick and easy hike all the way across the ridge to both the summits of Mount Lincoln and Little Haystack.

As the sun began to sit lower in the sky, we headed down Falling Waters Trail which took us along the lower ridge of the southern part of the Franconia Ridge. A much more rigorous effort on the way down with all the wet rocks. Luckily the water trickled into something that was worth the wait. We lost count of the number of waterfalls we walked along, some tiny, some long, and some massive & beautiful. This definitely gave us something to look forward to as we heard the water raging louder and louder the further we descended down the trail. With a book time of 6:58, we finished in the parking lot with an insatiable hunger for some greasy food and beer. We stopped by One Love Brewery on the way home for some adult beverages and a delicious food & live music.


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