Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Friday, July 11, 2014

Up Flume Slide Down Liberty Spring

After watching the weather all week I decided it would be a great day to go up on Franconia Ridge and enjoy the views from the summits of Flume and Liberty. Today's hike would start at the Whitehouse Trail to Liberty Springs Trail turning onto Flume Slide Trail across the Franconia Ridge Trail and back down the Liberty Springs Trail.

 Trailhead parking lot

 Liberty Spring Trailhead

 Sun peaking through the woods

Pointing to my first destination

Lots of water crossings and waterfalls

It was a great drive to the trailhead with the mountains looking spectacular against the early morning sun. I arrived at the parking lot with plenty of spots available. The air was cool and I was on the trail at 7:00 am.

The Whitehouse Trail starts at the parking lot and comes out on the paved Franconia Notch bike path. A bridge crosses the Pemigewasset River and the Liberty Spring Trail begins on the other side. At 0.6 mile the Flume Slide Trail starts to the right crossing over a small bridge. After a week of contemplating whether or not to take this trail I was on my way.

 Beginning the steep climb up the slide

Now it gets wet

There were many water crossings along the way and only the last one gave me a slight problem with a jump across the water to a wet rock, made it without slipping. The gradual climb to the slide belied what awaited me on the steep, wet ledges above. The trail eventually becomes loose gravel and rocks.

More steep, wet and slippery

 A view from high up on the Flume Slide Trail

 Happy to be at the top of Flume Slide Trail

It appeared that I was at the bottom and start of the steep ledges and I stopped to make some adjustments. A hiker was coming up and I asked him if this was the beginning of the steep section, he said it was and kept on going. I zipped off my pant legs, changed to a short sleeve shirt, strapped my poles to the backpack as well as had a quick snack and a long drink of water and Gatorade. I took a deep breath and started my climb.

 Going up to Mount Flume

 Lincoln and Lafayette in the distance

The first ledge was dry and no problem. Looking up I saw the hiker ahead of me and was a little surprised he wasn't further ahead. I soon found out why. The ledges were becoming steeper and wetter. My new hiking boots were no match for the slick granite and handholds were very necessary. It was a relentless, steep, wet climb and at times I was able to get off to the side for a little better footing.

 A walk along the edge of the slide

On top of Mount Flume

At one point I watched the hiker ahead of me, that I was sort of following, bushwhack into the woods. I figured he was going over to the exposed slide to continue his climb, this is where I stopped following and I never saw him again. It was back to the business of clawing my way up the trail. At one point I veered off into a dead-end but soon found the trail and got back on track.

 What is it?

Where  I just came from

The steep climb continued but at least it was getting drier. The ledges turned into rocks and made the climb a little easier. With each bend in the trail there was another stretch of steep. The trail leveled out as I got to the trail junction where the Osseo and Franconia Ridge trails meet. There were four hikers and a dog at this junction and all were headed north on the Franconia Ridge.

 The summit of Mount Liberty

I really enjoyed the section of trail along the edge of the top of the slide and took a video as I passed by, breathtaking! It was 0.1 mile to the summit of Mount Flume with spectacular views to be seen. A short stop for photos and I continued on to Mount Liberty.

 Mount Garfield

 Mount Flume behind me

The trail dips down into a col then back up again. After coming up the Flume Slide trail there was nothing else that was going to challenge me today and it was a nice hike to the summit of Mount Liberty. Once on top I was greeted by 360 degree views and a pleasant temperature with a gentle breeze. There were several other hikers up here but not what I would consider crowded and no biting insects. It was a great spot for lunch!


 Bondcliff zoomed

After eating I took lots of photos and my customary summit panorama video. I could have stayed much longer but it was time to make my descent. It was 0.3 mile to the Liberty Spring Trail and another 2.9 miles back to the paved Franconia bike path. Along the way I passed by the Liberty Spring tentsite. I'm thinking I may have to camp here someday.

Rounding a corner on the trail I ran into a coworker, Chef Greg that teaches in the Culinary Arts department at the college where I work. He and his young son were on their way to Liberty Spring Tentsite. They were going to camp for a night then head across the Franconia Ridge Trail and down Skookumchuck. It's always nice to cross paths on the trail with someone you know.

 Looking back at Mount Liberty summit

There were many hikers making there ascent on the Liberty Spring Trail. I like getting an early start when hiking on a warm day and was glad to be making my descent in the early afternoon. It was definitely getting warmer. Back on the bike path I had to stay off to the side and watch for bikers speeding by.

Pemigewasset River

Back at the parking lot I moved my vehicle into the shade and cooled down. I always have a thermos of ice water waiting for me and it sure is nice to have a cool drink at the end of a hike. I now have two more summits to add to my 4,000 footer list. Mount Flume (4,328') was #32 and Mount Liberty was #33. It was an awesome day for this hike!

Along the Franconia Ridge Trail on Mount Flume 

Panoramic view from Mount Liberty

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Awesome hike report, as always Don! I've hiked Liberty/ Flume 3 times and have never done the Slide... time to put it on my radar!

    1. Thanks Jill!
      I generally don't mind a nice DRY ledge scramble but when you add wet, slippery and relentless to the equation it puts a whole new dimension on the climb and turns the day's hike into very "interesting". I think you would enjoy the challenge!