New Hampshire Pictures (1 pictures)
White Mountains - Franconia Notch Loop Directions: Located in northern New Hampshire, take I-93 north. Just north of Lincoln, you will enter Franconia Notch State Park. There is a turnoff directly off of I-93 that says "Parking for Trailhead" - about two miles or so into the park (I think there were a couple, but the one for this trail should say something about Falling Waters Trail, Old Bridle Trail, or Lafayette Camp Ground). The was a building on the west side of the freeway that my map had labeled as a visitor center, but it was closed both when I started my hike and when I finished. One of the exits before the park mentioned "Visitor Center this exit", so you might try stopping there to get a trail map (or search the web). Free. Trails: There are a number of trails in the park, but the one I came for was the Franconia Notch loop. It is actually three trails. I started on the Falling Waters Trail. It was a pretty, one to two person width trail along a stream with small falls. There are a couple of rocky areas that you have to climb over. The little over 3 mile trail with a change of elevation of about 2,800 feet is well defined and marked occasionally with blue spots on the trees or rocks. Two-thirds of the way through, the trail leaves the stream and starts an about 1,800 feet climb to the top of Little Haystack. At the top, Falling Waters Trail ends in the middle of the Franconia Ridge Trail - which is part of the Appalachian Trail. The trail is marked with white spots on the rocks and is above the tree line. The ridge trail has very scenic views of the White Mountain range in all directions. I took a left onto the Ridge Trail and hiked over the top of Mt. Lincoln and to the top of Mt. Lafayette - a distance of just under 3 miles. At Mt. Lafayette, I took a left onto Old Bridle Path, which is marked with yellow spots. A little over a mile into the trail is the Greenleaf Hut. The hut has water (free), t-shirts, and candybars - but no pop (there is no road to the hut; they have to hike stuff in themselves). It is a good place to rest. From the hut, it is a 3 mile hike back to the car. And it seemed that I was never going to get there. Old Bridle Path seemed steep to me at places and I was glad I was not climbing up it. The trail has good views of the Franconia Ridge (where as the Falling Waters Trail has no view of the Ridge). Area: I went in late July on a Monday. It was green and pretty, but there were surprisingly plenty of people around. It wasn't crowded, but occasionally people would pass me or I would pass people (and we would switch off passing each other). It is obviously a mountainous area that has a lot of trees and rocks. On the ridge trail, I was glad I had brought along a jacket - it was cool. But I did regret having worn jeans instead of shorts. Picture When I did the hike: July 1998 Recommendation: If you want an isolated trail where there is no other people around, then this trail is not for you. It is a long, strenuous trail, but after you finish you get to say, "I did it!" I enjoyed my hike and look back fondly on it.