Spectacular Views on the Franconia Ridge Loop Hike

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Guest Post: Easy Hiking Trails

Most hikers would put scenic hiking trails high up in their list of favourites, no matter how difficult they may be to trek. Let’s face it, who would want to mount a seemingly endless trail of gray landscape without the promise of a picturesque vista at the end or at the top? Ray Anderson is no exception and here with his guest post, he tells us why this is his favourite hike.

The Franconia Ridge hike in New Hampshire is a loop hike involving an ascent to the ridge via the Falling Waters Trail. On the ridge, you will hike from Little Haystack to Mt. Lincoln, to Mt. Lafayette, and descend the Old Bridal Path back to the starting point. This is my favourite hike.

The views from both sides of the ridge are spectacular. Just make sure you pick a good clear weather day to do this hike.  Pick a brisk autumn day in September and you won’t be disappointed.

This hike is particularly enjoyable because scenes of natural beauty occur right away.

"Waterfall on Franconia Ridge hiking trail"

Franconia Ridge Falls

On the aptly named Falling Waters Trail, you hike alongside falls, where you are almost compelled to take a break and relax. I’ve done the loop eight times, and every time snacked by these falls and had a great time, either alone or with family, or friends.

On one of my hikes here, my sons joined me and we absorbed the thunderous beauty of the falls, as a refreshing mist from the falls caressed our faces.

Another feature of the Franconia Ridge hike is that you don’t just stop when you hit the Ridge—you climb it!

"Hikers guiding themselves from cairn to cairn in Bob Muir Ridge"

Bob Muir Ridge

Hikers wend their way up the Ridge cairn to cairn. You can see in the picture the man in front has his right hand placed on a cairn. In bad weather, hikers can’t see on the Ridge and depend on cairns to guide them.

"American Flag seen on a Franconia Ridge hikei with Ray Anderson"

Franconia Ridge Flag

On the summit of Mt. Lincoln (at the USA flag), you wonder how views could be any better, but then you realize you are not done climbing. One mile straight ahead is the higher summit of Mt. Lafayette. (The flag you see in the picture was set up by a hiking club three years to the day commemorating 9/11.)

At the Ridge, you may want to relax by yourself (there is plenty of room on the rocky sides) or huddle with your hiking friends. More than once I’ve sat here alone to rest, to think, to ponder the bigger issues in my life.

"Mt. Lafayette on the Franconia Ridge hike trip"

Mt. Lafayette

When you get to the summit of Mt. Lafayette by climbing up the Ridge, you will feel you have accomplished something. From Mt. Lafayette, you can see Greenleaf Hut, which is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

There is a fee to stay at the hut, and you need to reserve a space well in advance if you want to stay in the Fall.

The hut offers a bunk with bedding, a cooked evening meal, and breakfast the following morning. Hikers who have not made reservations are welcome to come by. They can get an updated weather report, use the facilities, and get drinks and snacks. If I plan to hike with family and friends, I make reservations, as it adds to the experience.

The entire loop will have been about eight miles, relatively short, but you will get a workout if you do it all in one day. If you do decide to tackle it in one day, start early so you will have time to relax along the way and to enjoy views from the Ridge.

It’s easy to find the trailhead for this loop hike: Take Franconia Notch Parkway in New Hampshire (I-93), north to the large wooden sign for Lafayette Place, on your right. Park your vehicle, and look for the Falling Waters Trail.

Enjoy this Franconia Ridge hike!


Ray Anderson  has hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and much of the Continental Divide Trail. His abiding interest in hiking started 25 years ago when he began climbing the 4000 foot mountains of New Hampshire. After those, he climbed the rest of the 4000 footers in New England. This year, he plans to tackle the Adirondacks in upstate NY. He is married and has three children who are also married, leading busy lives of their own. He blogs about hiking at  www.TakeaLongHike.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

2 comments to Spectacular Views on the Franconia Ridge Loop Hike

  • Sounds like a really special place, Franconia Ridge. Thanks for dropping by, Kathryn.

  • Kathryn

    Ray & I have something in common: Mt. Lafayette/Franconia Ridge/Falling Waters loop is my favorite hike. I first did it in the ’80’s (a day hike) and then again last summer (overnight at Greenleaf). I’ve hiked in Shawangunks, Catskills, Adirondacks, sections of Appalachian Trail, Colorado, Texas, Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia, Austrian Alps, & a bit in Hungary. Franconia Ridge will always be a special place for me.

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