Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spectacular Spring Day on Franconia Ridge

While deciding where to hike this weekend I was leaning toward Mount Cabot. I saw where fellow hiker Eric was looking for other hikers to join him on a hike across Franconia Ridge. With spectacular weather in the forecast I thought this would be a great hike and let him know that I was interested. There would be no other hikers joining us. Our hiking route would be the standard loop up the Falling Waters Trail to Little Haystack Mountain (4,780') onto the Franconia Ridge Trail and over to Mount Lincoln (5,089') then continuing to Mount Lafayette and descending on the Greenleaf Trail to the Old Bridle Path.

 Sunrise as I leave for today's hike

 Ski season is over at Cannon Mountain

 Mount Lincoln from the trailhead parking lot

 Eric crosses Dry Brook

 Stairs Falls

 Swiftwater Falls

We planned to meet at the trailhead parking lot at 8:30, I got there a little before and Eric arrived after. It was around 9:00 when we got started up the trail. After a cool start this morning the sun was nicely warming up the temperature. At the trail junction we turned right onto the Falling Waters Trail and crossed the bridge over Walker Brook. We were moving along at a good steady pace. I have hiked with Eric before and was hoping I would be able to keep up with his pace and not slow us down too much.

 Cloudland Falls

 Another easy water crossing

 One more water crossing

The water crossings today on Dry Brook were no problem. There are many water falls along the way from where the trail gets its name. Some of the larger falls are named starting with Stairs Falls. Moving further up the trail is Swiftwater Falls and then there is Cloudland Falls that is 80 feet high. There was good water flow but not the normal Spring runoff that is normally seen this time of year, however the water falls were still looking spectacular.

 Mount Flume and Mount Liberty

 View of Mount Lincoln from Little Haystack

 On the summit of Little Haystack Mountain

 Eric ready to move on to the next summit

 Owl's Head in the Pemigewasset Wilderness

 Heading up to Mount Lincoln

After the final water crossing the snow and ice started to increase on the trail. When we got to the other side of the brook there were two hikers ahead of us that were putting on their microspikes. We decided it wasn't that bad yet and went on without traction but it wasn't much further until we put them on. At 2.8 miles we reached the side path to Shining Rock. I've been out to this viewpoint before and considered the views to be limited. We continued our climb up the trail.

 Helo over the Pemigewasset Wilderness and Mount Washington in the distance

 Eric on Mount Lincoln

 Mount Washington

 Zooming in to the summit of Mount Washington

 On the summit of Mount Lincoln

 Looking back from where we just hiked on the Franconia Ridge Trail

 View of Cannon Mountain and the Kinsmans

 Mount Lafayette slide

As we got closer to treeline and there was more sun exposure on the trail the ice was quickly diminishing. We removed our spikes just before emerging above treeline and would not need them again until our descent on the Greenleaf Trail coming down Mount Lafayette. As we made our way up onto the summit of Little Haystack Mountain the sun felt good and there was just a slight cool breeze. I added a warm layer and that was all I needed for the entire ridge.

 Continuing along the Franconia Ridge

 Looking back at Mount Lincoln

Mount Lafayette and Mount Garfield to the right

Summit of Lafayette up ahead

Greenleaf Hut down below

Eric enjoying the view

After a quick break with lots of photos we proceeded north on the Franconia Ridge Trail. The trail was wet and muddy along here. We met lots of hikers along the way. One in particular was fellow hiker John whose hiking adventures I follow on Facebook. We stopped and chatted for a bit then moved on. Our next summit was Mount Lincoln. Once again we spent a few minutes capturing the views and I got a panoramic video from here.

Final ledge scramble to the summit


Zooming in on Bondcliff

Mount Garfield

On Mount Lafayette

Cannon Mountain observation tower

We continued on to our final summit of the day. There has been recent snow up here and that made for a slushy, muddy, wet slog in places but nothing that was intolerable. After the final ledge scramble to the top we were standing on Mount Lafayette. There was a chilly breeze blowing and I put on a warm hat and gloves. I ate some lunch, took some more photos, got my customary panoramic video and relaxed a bit before beginning our descent. It would be all downhill from here.

Mount Lafayette summit marker

Standing on the summit of Mount Lafayette with Mount Lincoln behind me

Starting our descent

As we hiked down the Greenleaf Trail the wind began to diminish. A quick stop just before reaching treeline and I removed my outer layer, it was now getting warm. While talking to some hikers it was recommended we wear traction from here. It was good advice, once we got into the trees and shady part of the trail there was a mixture of ice and slush. It stayed this way until we reached Greenleaf Hut.

Recent snow on the trail

Looking down on Cannon Mountain ski trails and Echo Lake

Trail gets slushy

Mount Lafayette

Greenleaf Hut

The trail took us by Eagle Lake and then a slight ascent to the hut. The hut was actually open but only for Spring cleaning. The opening day with limited service is on Friday, May 6th. It was very warm here and we decided to change into short sleeves and shorts. My bare legs would see the sunshine for the first time this year. Although it was bare ground around the hut we were told the ice would begin again as we started down. Eric put on his spikes, I held off but soon had them on.

Passing by Eagle Lake

Greenleaf Hut opens next Friday with limited service

Eagle Lake below Mount Lafayette

A view across Franconia Notch to Lonesome Lake and Lonesome Lake Hut

We were now on the Old Bridle Path and the traction made the descent a lot easier. It was very warm and it felt great. There were lots of hikers still coming up. We carefully made our way down over the rocky, icy ridge. Just before we got to the outlooks we were able to remove our microspikes for the last time today. It felt nice when we got down past the ice, the rocks and the ledges and reached some smooth trail. We arrived at the Falling Waters trail junction completing our 8.4 mile loop hike. Another 0.2 and we were back at the parking lot.

A view south in Franconia Notch

The cliffs of Cannon Mountain

Gnarly roots on this tree

This is always an amazing hike, a favorite among many hikers. I'm glad I saw Eric's invite and hope I wasn't too much of a drag on his pace. I considered the trail conditions to be in relatively good shape as compared to some of the hikes that I've done in the past couple of months. The weather was spectacular. It was a fantastic day to be hiking in the White Mountains, especially Franconia Ridge. Thanks Eric, the perfect choice for a hike today, I had a great time!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

No comments:

Post a Comment