Popular Hikes in Franconia Notch State Park
Briefly described below are a few of the more popular family hikes in Franconia Notch State Park. It is important to wear sturdy walking shoes and to remember in the mountains, weather changes suddenly and darkness falls quickly. Keep close tabs on children as unforeseen hazards exist or develop suddenly on mountain trails.
Bald Mountain & Artists Bluff, reached by a short hike, offer fine views of Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch. The 11/2 mile loop begins in the parking area across Route 18 from Peabody Base Lodge. After 1/4 mile, a short, steep path diverges left for 1/10 mile to the open summit of Bald Mountain. The main trail continues and bears right, up and across the low ridge. A short, unmarked path diverges left to the open top of Artists Bluff. The main trail continues down to Route 18 near Echo Lake.
Lonesome Lake, nestled in the mountains 1000' above the floor of the notch, is a popular hiking destination. It is reached by a 1 1/2 mile (one way) trail that begins at Lafayette Campground. A lakeside trail leads to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) hut at the far end of the lake and passes by an inactive beaver lodge.
Kinsman Falls, a beautiful, secluded and oft-overlooked spot on Cascade Brook can be found by following the Basin-Cascades Trail for 1/2 mile from the Basin. Many potholes and ledges in the brook along the way make for an enjoyable twenty minute (one way) walk. A rough path diverges left off the trail to the cool base of the falls. Follow the main trail a short way to a brook crossing to the left that leads to a Rocky Glenn Falls.
Mt. Pemigewasset The open ledges at the 2557' summit of (Indian Head) afford excellent views of Franconia Notch, the Franconia Range and the valley to the south. The 1/4 mile (one way) trail climbs moderately to the summit from the Flume Visitor Center parking area. Return can be made by the same route or via the Indian Head Trail that diverges from the Mt. Pemigewasset Trail just below the summit, and leads one mile to Route 3, one mile south of the Flume Visitor Center.
We endeavor to provide a safe and attractive environment within the limits of our mission to preserve and protect park resources. The necessary knowledge, skill and equipment for a safe visit are primarily your responsibility. We hope you will enjoy your visit to New Hampshire's State Parks and come back often.
6 Hard to All Day Hikes in Franconia Notch
Falling Waters Trail Class III, Distance 3 1/4 mi./Time 3 hrs./Elev. Gain 2700' Head SE along the blue blazes just off the Franconia Notch Parkway (I-93), across from the Lafayette Campground. The trail follows Walker Brook to a crossing at Walker Falls. Continue SE away from the brook and ascend to Dry Brook. After you cross heading E, Stairs Falls come into view. Above the falls continue to ascent, passing outcrops of granite, and cross the dry brook by the awesome Swift Water Falls (60'). Take care along this route! The path switches back and forth for a short distance, then ascends steeply away from the tote road to an overview of the highest falls in the region - Cloudland Falls (80'), which descends into the forest below, with two smaller falls descending into the valley. The trail then climbs along forested ridges of Haystack Mtn. Shinning Rock is now reached via a side trail about 100 yds. off the main trail. Do not attempt to climb this rock without proper experience and equipment. It is usually very slippery and steep, with few holds. The views are magnificent as you ascend on the main trail NE along the base of the cliff to where the trail enters the woods, finally climb steeply to timberline, and meet Franconia Ridge Tr. Caution is advised; turn back if weather is bad.
Flume Slide Trail Class III, Distance 4 1/2 mi./Time 3 hrs./Elev. Gain 2600' This trail leaves the S side of Liberty Spring Tr., 1/4 mi. from its start. The trail is very wet and slippery in many places, and many brook crossings must be negotiated. Continue SE ascending at a gradual grade, crossing a brook and soon another. In 1/2 mi. the trail descends rapidly to another crossing. From here, the trail traverses a wet area, crossing several brooks. Watch for trail markers through this area, as the trail has been relocated in sections. After the mud zone, the trail follows an extreme steep gravity slide. Do not attempt this part of the trail if the weather is wet or icy; turn back here. Across the slide, the trail passes through thick trees along a steep ascent to Franconia Ridge and reaches the jct. with Osseo Tr., 0.1mi. S of Mt. Flume.
Franconia Ridge Trail Class III, Distance 5 mi./Time 4 hrs./Elev. Gain 1800' From the summit of Mt. Lafayette, head S along the open talus- and scree-strewn ridge. The alpine plants along this trail are fragile, yet hardy enough to endure this harsh climate better than human beings. This ridge is known for extremely severe weather and wind; use extreme caution. If the weather looks at all threatening, don't attempt to ascend above tree line - the weather will only be worse. The trail generally passes due S over Mt. Lincoln and then Little Haystack Mtn. At the summit of Little Haystack, Falling Waters Tr. descends W. At an altitude of over 4,000', the trail winds S among glacial erratics and talus boulders, then climbs to the summit of Mt. Liberty. Franconia Ridge Tr. is dry beyond this point; water may be found at a good spring 1/4 mi. down Liberty Spring Tr., which leaves SW 1/4 mi. before the summit of Mt. Liberty. The main trail continues E from the summit and descends S along the SE slopes of Mt. Liberty to a lower summit, Mt. Flume. Franconia Ridge Tr. terminates at a jct. S of Mt. Flume; Flume's Slide Tr. will take you to Rt. 3.
Greenleaf Trail Class II, Distance 2-1/2mi./Time 3hrs 30min./Elev. Gain 2100' The trail begins off the Tramway parking lot near the north bound parkway ramp and runs parallel to the road for a short distance. The trail then heads E up a steep hill to Eagle Cliff by way of switchbacks. There are occasional views along this route. The trail passes through a narrow notch called Eagle pass and continues E for a short distance, then swings S across talus along the NW side of Mt. Lafayette. Greenleaf Tr. ends at Greenleaf Hut. Treat this beautiful area with respect - it is much used and therefore fragile. No camping.
Liberty Spring Trail Class II, Distance 2-1/2 mi./Time 2 hrs. 15 min./Elev. Gain 2700' Park just N of the Flume Visitor Center and access this trail via the Whitehouse Tr. The trail crosses another brook and slabs the W slopes of Mt. Liberty. Flume Slide Tr. Branches off the main trail towards the Flume Brook; the main trail ascends E, crossing many brooks. The trail finally passes Liberty Spring Campsite and continues steeply ending at the Franconia Ridge Tr., about 1/4 mi. N of the summit of Mt. Liberty.
Old Bridle Path Class II, Distance 3-1/4 mi./Time 3 hrs./Elev. Gain 3300' The trail begins at the Lafayette Campground parking lots on both sides of I-93. Ascend E at a steep grade through forest. After swinging N, with a view of Mt. Lincoln, continue the ascent to open cliffs with spectacular views. The trail enters the woods and resumes a steep ascent over Agony ridge to Greenleaf Hut and Eagle Lake. The trail soon climbs above treeline and continues across the rocks at a steep grade to the foundations of the old summit house at the top of Mt. Lafayette. There are spectacular views in all directions. This is one of the easiest routes to the top of the Franconia Range.
7 Easy to Moderate Hikes Around Franconia
Bald Mountain Easiest "summit" less than a half-mile to a mini summit! Park on Route 18, across from Peabody Base Lodge at Cannon Mt. Walk across parking lot to well-marked trailhead. Ascend trail to fork, bear left and climb through spruce woods to a rocky cone. Great views of Echo Lake and the Notch. Right fork goes 1/4 mi. to Artist Bluff, a small cliff popular with rock climbers and also overlooking Echo Lake.
Bridal Veil Falls Bette Davis' Favorite! A 2.5 mi. hike up the Coppermine Brook Trail. From Franconia Village, go 3.5 miles towards Easton on Route 116. Turn left onto Coppermine Village Road and park where signs indicate. Walk up road, trail starts on left after log cabins. The Coppermine Trail is a moderate ascent along a splashy brook terminating at 80' Bridal Veils Falls. Wade or picnic along the stream, especially about .75 miles up the trail where a piney grove slopes sharply down to the brook. Bette found romance here in 1938. (Round trip 5 mi./4 hours)
Bald Peak Hardy Climb for Dreamy Views. A prominence (elev. 2400') on the shoulder of Mount Kinsman. From Franconia Village, go 4.5 miles toward Easton on Route 116. At the Franconia/Easton town line there is a barred road on the left, just before the Tamarack Tennis Camp. Park on Route 116 and follow the old road (there are no signs). This is the Mount Kinsman Trail. Climb steeply past the sugarhouse and begin a moderate climb for about 2 miles. You cross two brooks near the 2-mile mark and soon reach a junction. Take the well-marked path to the right .01 miles to Balk Peak and view of the Easton Valley (Round trip 4 mi./4 hours)
Basin Cascade Trail Splashy Mile Cool off the kids! Park at the Basin in Franconia Notch State Park, and after exploring the Basin complex, find the well marked trailhead. The path climbs gently amid pools and cascades which invite wading. There are many unmarked side paths, some of which reward explorers. At .5 miles the trail crosses Cascade Brook on a narrow wooden bridge, than continues to pretty rocky Glen Falls. It terminates in a small canyon at a junction with the Cascade Brook Trail. (Round trip 2 mi./2 hours)
Falling Waters Trail Water Wonderland! Three waterfalls grace this steep climb. Park at Lafayette Campground in Franconia Notch State Park. The trail begins across the parkway from the campground and shares a path with the Old Bridle Path for .2 miles before branching sharply right and crossing a footbridge. Falling Waters Trail then climbs .5 miles to so-called Dry Brook, which is always pretty but never dry. Cross Dry Brook and climb a short way to tiny Stairs Falls. Scramble along a rock wall to reach 60' Swift Water Falls. The next leg is steep but rewards you with Cloudland Falls, and 80' cascade. Another steep climb culminates with a view across the notch. (Round trip 3 mi./3 hours)
Lonesome Lake Trail Jewel in the Sky! A pristine lake ( elev. 2743') cupped by mountains with a visit to an Appalachian Mountain Club Hut are the rewards of this 1.6 mile hike. Park at Lafayette Campground in Franconia Notch State Park. The trail begins in the picnic area and ascends at a moderate grade. The Hi-Cannon Trail forks to the right. Stay left and climb more steeply over several switch backs. Near the lake the trail levels off and you bear left at 1.2 miles circling the lake to the AMC hut, which offers candy bars, lemonade and a Spartan bathing area. (Round trip 3.2 mi./3 hours.
Sugarloaf Trail Rocky Summit, Broad View (elev. 2539') 1.2 miles - 1 hr. 30 min. Trail starts 1 mile up Zealand Road at bridge over Zealand River. Going through open hardwoods, the trail splits between Middle and North Sugarloaf. Bear left to Middle Sugarloaf for a better view.
For your enjoyment and safety:
- Wear appropriate footwear for rocky trails
- Always tell somebody where you are going
- Bring extra water, snacks, and clothing
- Stay on the trails
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