Discover the White Mountains of New Hampshire
by Jerry & Marcy Monkman (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
© Jerry & Marcy Monkman/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.
Very windy in the clouds on Mount Lafayette and along ridge. An excellent day hiking, definitely a good workout. Colder then expected in the alpine zone, be prepared.
An enthusiastic 3 thumbs up...easily the BEST hike we've ever done. Warning: It is a grueling, steep ascent and descent, with moderate rock scrambling. Bring LOTS of water and and PLENTY of snacks, but you can refuel at Greenleaf Hut if you run out. For your suffering and determination, you will be rewarded thousandfold with unforgettable killer views as you hike the ridge of a true alpine mountain range with a totally unobstructed view (you are above treeline). We made frequent stops and did it in a day, the 9 mile loop took us about 9 hours, word to the wise: start EARLY. But you can sleepover at the AMC Greenleaf Hut to turn this into a 2 day hike. We ascended via Old Bridle Path and descended via Falling Waters. In our opinion, Old Bridle Path is far steeper than Falling Waters thus we would not recommend descending via Old Bridle Path. Be careful: Falling Waters can be slippery.
This is an extremely tough trail on the feet and knees; it was basically rock-hopping/bouldering the entire way (hiking boots are a must!). I did the reverse loop and started with Falling Waters; I would rather have a steeper ascent than descent (though the Old Bridle Path descent was plenty steep as is). Likewise, there are several points on the Falling Waters trail that are extremely slippery and steep and I was very very glad I didn't have to encounter those parts on a descent. The difficultly of the hike was a good way to test my mental and physical toughness and to get more comfortable with extremely rocky terrain.
It is a long, strenuous climb and made for an all-day ordeal. I started at 9 AM and was back at the car by 4 PM. I probably spent about 45-60 min resting/taking pictures along the trail, so it was actually a faster pace than I expected to have on this terrain. The view at the top was non-existent; the peaks were completely surrounded by cloud-cover. However disappointing the lack of view, the cloud cover had a very cool, isolating effect and gave one the sensation of being alone at the top of the world.
Overall, it was pretty busy with European tourists, and definitely got more crowded as the day went on. It looked like rain, but I got lucky; I imagine the trail is extremely treacherous when wet. Make sure you take a pack with emergency provisions and gear. Be prepared for a tough climb.
I know all of those reviews seem ridiculous but the trail really is that great. This trail is what should be used to inspire children to exercise more, I bet childhood obesity would decrease if kids realized this is what they were missing out on. Great workout, great views, AMC hut on the way, above treeline ridge walk. It truly does have it all.
Sign in/up to upload photos.
Keep Me Informed
Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.
We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.