Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lincoln and Lafayette Loop Hike

With great weather forecast for today I was up early and on my way to Franconia Notch. Two more 4,000 footers were in the plan. Mount Lincoln (5089') and Mount Lafayette (5260') were calling. My hike would take me up the Falling Waters Trail across the Franconia Ridge Trail over Little Haystack Mountain, Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette, down the Greenleaf Trail to Greenleaf Hut and back to the parking area via the Old Bridle Path completing the loop.

 Foggy sunrise on the drive to the trailhead

 Hike starts through that tunnel up ahead


 "You are here" sign

I pulled into the Lafayette Campground parking area and found plenty of available spots. It was 6:45 am and I was on my way to the trailhead using the tunnel under I93. There were two other hikers just behind me and let them go ahead knowing I would be stopping for lots of photos.

Bought a new pair of hiking boots this past weekend and this would be their break-in hike. After trying a couple different pairs of boots I decided to go with the same boot, Merrell Moab Mid WP. As I hit the trail they were feeling great!

 Shining Rock

 View from Shining Rock

 Cannon Mountain

Kinsman Ridge

 I was soon at the trail junction and turned right onto the Falling Waters Trail. It didn't take long to find out how this trail got its name. There were some beautiful waterfalls all along the trail and I found myself making frequent stops to capture some pics. I certainly wasn't making good time at this point but it was worth it.

 Lonesome Lake

Lonesome Lake Hut

 Mount Lincoln

 Greenleaf Hut

Before long I came up on a group of hikers which kind of surprised me because I was moving slow due to all the stopping to take pictures. As I was going past several young boys one of them said to another,"Boy, this is hard work!" I turned around and with a smile replied,"No, this is hard fun!" Another boy agreed with me!

 Looking back at Mount Liberty and Mount Flume

The trail eventually veered away from the brook and waterfalls and continued to climb. I made a quick side trip down the spur trail to Shining Rock and took a few photos. Returning to the main trail I was careful where I stepped. Evidently this section of trail is the public restroom and no effort is made to hide that. As I continued on the main trail the mess could still be seen although a little further into the woods. It appears a little more discretion is in order.

As I made my way toward treeline first views of the scenery were beginning to emerge through the trees. The first summit of the day was Little Haystack Mountain and even though its elevation is 4,780 feet it does not meet the criteria to be on the official list of 4,000 footers. It is nonetheless a spectacular peak with breathtaking views in every direction. I stayed long enough to get some pics and the customary panoramic shot then began the hike north across the Franconia Ridge Trail.

 Mount Lafayette

The tall peak ahead of me was Mount Lincoln and it was hiding the peak of Mount Lafayette beyond. Every step along the Franconia Ridge Trail is awe-inspiring. Many photos were taken. The number of hikers were increasing and I would see many more as I continued. I reached the summit of Mount Lincoln and there was a big group there so I kept moving just north of the summit so I could get some photos and once again a panorama video.

 Lots of spiders on the trail

 A look back at Franconia Ridge Trail

 Trail junction on Mount Lafayette

My next peak was Mount Lafayette but first I wanted to savor and enjoy the Franconia Ridge Trail before reaching my last summit of the day. I would have kept my camera out of the case but did not want to take a chance on tripping, falling and breaking it. Hikers continued in both directions. There was one final climb to the top of Mount Lafayette and this would be the highest elevation of the day. Once again the views were stunning in every direction.

 Aircraft flying low through Franconia Notch

I needed to eat but wanted to wait until I reached the Greenleaf Hut. The sun was beating down so one last panorama video and I began my descent to the hut. As I walked by one of the summit cairns a swarm of bees emerged and chased me away. So avoid the large cairn at the top. It as a beautiful hike down to treeline with outstanding views into Franconia Notch. At one point I watched a large aircraft fly low through the notch far below. I was able to get a picture as it flew by Greenleaf Hut.

There was a number of hikers at the hut but not what I would consider to be a crowd. I went inside, zipped off the legs on my pants, changed socks and ate lunch by an open window with a cool breeze. A nice break and feeling refreshed I was ready to make the final descent down to Franconia Notch.

A look back at Greenleaf Hut

 A rocky section of the Old Bridle Path

As I dropped down in elevation it started getting very warm. That brought out the black flies and any stopping on the trail brought a cloud of them down on me. The longer I stood there the darker the cloud became and a couple of them managed to get in a few good bites. I kept moving and as I got back into the forest it became somewhat cooler and the flies dropped off.

 A long ways down

There were many people just starting their hike up the trail. These hikers were in for a very warm ascent. Not being a fan of hot weather I was glad that I got an early start. Back at the parking lot there were more hikers preparing to begin their hike.

 Back at the trailhead parking lot

One more look from the Franconia Ridge Trail into the Pemigewasset Wilderness

This was a very exhilarating hike today with a nice variety of terrain, great trail conditions, waterfalls, breathtaking views and fantastic weather! The new hiking boots performed well with feet feeling fine and blister free. Lincoln was #29 and Lafayette #30 on my quest to complete the 48 4,000 footers!

Along the Franconia Ridge Trail

Panoramic view from Little Haystack Mountain

Panoramic view from Mount Lincoln

Panoramic view from Mount Lafayette

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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