Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Back to the Kinsmans

What a difference another day makes! Two weeks ago during a hike to North and South Kinsmans the weather was less than optimal. It was cold, windy and cloudy with very limited visibility. Thinking I was at the summit of South Kinsman I found out later that the true summit was another 300 yards. So it was back to tag South Kinsman to make it official for summit #43.

 Fall leaves falling

 The Kinsmans from Lonesome Lake

Fellow hiker Denise would be joining me again today. Last time we hiked the Mount Kinsman Trail to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. Today we would be starting from Lafayette Campground in Franconia Notch, up the Lonesome Lake Trail to the Fishin' Jimmy Trail and along the Kinsman Ridge to North and South Kinsman again.

 Sun comes up on Lonesome Lake

There was plenty of parking still available at the trailhead and we began our hike at 7:00 am. There was a warm breeze blowing and I was soon down to shorts and short sleeves and remained that way for the rest of the day. It was a nice hike to Lonesome Lake and we met no other hikers along the way.

 Bog bridges on the Fishin' Jimmy Trail

 Steep section on Fishin' Jimmy

 More steeps with steps

Denise climbing onto the steps

 The lake was beautiful under a clear blue sky. We made a brief stop at the Lonesome Lake Hut, there were many hikers here getting ready to head out for the day. It was time for us to move up the Fishin' Jimmy Trail. This trail is known for being quite challenging.

Tower on top of Cannon Mountain

 The Fishin' Jimmy Trail is two miles long with a mixture of flat sections, ups and downs, and finally a nice steep area of slabs, some with wooden steps built in for an easier scramble. We reached the trail junction of Kinsman Ridge and Kinsman Pond trails and decided to visit Kinsman Pond on our descent.

 I don't think this ladder is necessary

 A personal note for North Bound AT hikers

The Kinsman Ridge was quite different today than it was on the previous hike two weeks ago. It was clear blue sky with a touch of haze as opposed to cold, cloudy, viewless conditions with ice-encrusted treetops and a strong wind blowing the ice down on us.

 On the Kinsman Ridge Trail

 South Kinsman from North Kinsman

Bog bridges on the Kinsman Ridge Trail

We didn't slow down on top of North Kinsman and kept on going to South Kinsman. The views were spectacular across Kinsman Ridge. As I made my way to the top of  South Kinsman I could see where I made my mistake on the previous hike. Standing on what I thought was the summit last time I could now look across and see the cairn on the actual summit about 300 yards further on the trail.

 Summit cairn on South Kinsman

 In a matter of minutes we were on the summit of Mount Kinsman and I tagged it for #43. There was a steady wind blowing and it almost required another layer but we didn't plan on staying long. A few photos and we were on our back to North Kinsman.

 South Kinsman for #43

 South Kinsman pin

 View west from South Kinsman

North Kinsman from South Kinsman

It was time for lunch and we decided to eat on the ledges at North Kinsman. When we arrived there was a small group of people already here enjoying the views while they ate. After eating I followed a short path down to a lower cliff face to get some photos of Kinsman Pond. When I returned the ledge was crammed with people and we both decided it was time to leave.

 Southeast view from Kinsman Ridge

 Franconia Ridge from Kinsman Ridge

 Lonesome Lake

 Kinsman Pond

Glider getting a tow

 We began our descent back to the Lafayette parking lot. On the way down we took the short spur path to Kinsman Pond. It was well worth the 0.2 mile round trip effort. The pond is beautiful with the Kinsman Ridge and North Kinsman rising straight up from the west side. A few more photos and we were on our way again.

 A crowd gathering on North Kinsman ledge

 Kinsman Pond shelter

Kinsman Pond

There were many people heading up the Fishin' Jimmy Trail as we made our way down. We stopped inside the Lonesome Lake Hut for a brief rest before the last stretch to the parking lot. There were some tempting snacks laid out on a table and I couldn't pass up the blueberry coffee cake, it was very good!

 A hiker far up on North Kinsman

 Looking south on Kinsman Pond

We decided to go around the west side of Lonesome Lake. The entire trail consists of a continual bog bridge. The views of Franconia Ridge from this side of the lake were spectacular! When meeting another hiker one must give way which wasn't much of a problem because it's been very dry lately and it was just a matter of stepping off into dry grass in  most places.

 Franconia Ridge from Lonesome Lake

Back on the other side of the lake we continued on down via the Lonesome Lake Trail. We had heard there was a hiker with a medical problem and it was not long before we were behind a large group of members from the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team. These are some great people that provide a vital service and are very good at what they do. We followed them down as there was no room to pass and we did not want to get in the way of this operation. We're certainly hoping the rescued individual is doing well. As they were transporting the stretcher down the trail a call came in that another rescue was needed. When they reached the Lafayette campground the hiker was loaded into a waiting ambulance and they were off to their next rescue.

 Bog bridges on the west side of Lonesome Lake

 Looking back at the Kinsmans from Lonesome Lake

 Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue transports a hiker

Trailhead parking lot is full

As expected the parking lot was not only full but over-flowing. There were a lot of people taking advantage of this beautiful weather and Fall foliage. I was definitely not disappointed at having to repeat this hike in order to reach the actual summit of South Kinsman. It was a great hike and I can now officially add this summit to my list of completed 4,000 footers!

Panoramic view of Franconia Ridge

Bog bridges around Lonesome Lake

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. You will be happy to know that the rescued hiker is doing well after going by ambulance to the local hospital and then on by helicopter to a region hospital. The carry team was great getting my friend down from Lonesome lake. I will show him your photos when he gets out of the hospital.

    1. That's great news! Thanks for letting me know!