Franconia Ridge Trail

Grafton County, New Hampshire

Elevation Gain3,567ft
Trailhead Elevation5,248ft
Elevation Min/Max3880/5249ft
Elevation Start/End5248/5248ft

Franconia Ridge Trail

Franconia Ridge Trail is a hiking trail in Grafton County, New Hampshire. It is within White Mountain National Forest. It is 4.4 miles long and begins at 5,248 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,567 feet. Mount Liberty (elevation 4,439 feet), Mount Lincoln, and Little Haystack Mountain (elevation 4,724 feet) can be seen along the trail. There is also a cliff along the trail. The trail ends near Mount Lafayette (elevation 5,249 feet) and Mount Flume (elevation 4,318 feet). This trail connects with the following: Liberty Spring Trail, Osseo Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Greenleaf Trail and Falling Waters Trail.

Franconia Ridge Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Perhaps the most popular high-elevation ridge in New England, the Franconia Range is not a place of solitude, especially on summer weekends. However, the alpine expanse between Little Haystack Mountain and Lafayette is as spectacular as any other location in the Granite State. This daylong or multi-day adventure is strenuous and demanding, but offers countless rewards, including cascading rivers, panoramic views, and the breathtaking summits of two 5000-foot mountains honoring men who left a lasting mark on American history."

"Probably the most popular high-elevation loop hike in the White Mountains, the Franconia Range is not a destination for solitude, especially on summer weekends, but it is a place of spectacular beauty. While its popularity may suggest otherwise, the loop over Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette is strenuous and very demanding.

The hike’s rewards, however, greatly exceed its challenge. In addition to a series of scenic mountain cascades, the summits of two towering 5000-foot mountains, and panoramic views throughout the day, this excursion in Franconia Notch State Park includes one of the finest alpine ridges in all of New England."

"This trip is easily near the top of the list of best hikes in New England. Of course, Franconia Ridge also can be a very busy place during any weekend with good weather; however, early risers and weekday hikers stand a good chance to have at least part of the ridge all to themselves.

The reward for climbing 4,000 feet in a day is getting to spend several hours above treeline, soaking in views from well above the surrounding mountains and forests. Below treeline is exciting as well, as you pass several waterfalls and hike through all of the major forest types found in the White Mountains. You will also pass the AMC Greenleaf Hut, which at 4,220 feet is the highest hut outside of the Presidentials and offers an excellent base for those who would prefer to make this a two-day trip."

"A steady climb alongside tumbling cascades to a classic alpine traverse with endless views to either side, then a dramatic descent past the AMC Greenleaf Hut. The Franconia Ridge is one of the most dramatic alpine ridge walks in the north-east, a “must” on every avid hiker’s list—at least the portion that includes Mounts Lafayette, Lincoln, and Little Haystack.

The classic route, which is described here, is to ascend via the Falling Waters Trail to the top of Little Haystack, cross the ridge over Lincoln to Lafayette, and then descend via the Old Bridle Path to close the loop. Some prefer to hike the loop in reverse, although the Falling Waters Trail is easier to go up than down, especially if conditions are wet. The Falling Waters Trail and Old Bridle Path begin as one trail."

"This ride's general location is Franconia Notch, between Franconia and North Woodstock. Scenery includes The Old Man of the Mountain and other New Hampshire landmarks. This is a good family ride, bring binoculars. Here in the Franconia Notch, the Immovable Object met the Irresistible Force. The result was a draw. The Object? New Hampshire's beloved Old Man of the Mountain, the "great stone face" that adorns postcards, highway signs, collector plates, and airbrushed Harley-Davidson tanks throughout the state.

The Old Man is just one of several natural wonders in this notch; nearby are the Flume, the Basin, Echo Lake, and other scenic delights. The Force? America's interstate highway system. After much arguing, Franconia Notch Parkway, which carries I-93 through this hallowed ground, has only 2 lanes, a 45-mph speed limit, and a paved, 9-mile bike path that provides easy access to Franconia's attractions."

"With gentle grades, swimming options, and amazing scenery in one of New Hampshire’s most dramatic locations, this bike trip has everything you need for the perfect day. There are few places in New Hampshire or even New England that can match the scenic vistas found in Franconia Notch. This bike ride, which can range from just a few miles to a full 17.6-mile day, lets you see this gorgeous area from the seat of your bike.

It is recommended for experienced bike riders ages 6 and up, or any age at all in a bike trailer or child carrier. While much of it is gradual, there are a few short, steep sections that may be a safety concern for kids who are inexperienced with properly braking while descending. Younger children can safely walk down the steeper sections with adult supervision. Helmets are always recommended."

"Finding solitude in Franconia Notch can be difficult. Its beauty and accessibility have resulted in many well-trodden trails. Fortunately, there are still less-traveled locations in the Notch to explore. This loop visits popular destinations. However, it also passes through Franconia Notch’s quieter places, where thick spruce forests cast shadows over cascading mountain streams and darting critters escape to dark cavities hidden in gnarled yellow birches.

From the parking area, follow the signs leading to the Basin, a smooth, round rock the river continues to carve on its journey to the sea. Many interesting features are displayed, including Kinsman Falls at 0.4 mile and Rocky Glen Falls at 0.9 mile. Near the trail’s halfway point, a brook crossing provides a small challenge, but rocks are present for assistance."

Franconia Ridge Trail Reviews

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This was a trek with spectacular views. Make sure the weather is picture-perfect as you'll be out on an exposed ridge. This particular day was gorgeous weather-wise. I particularly like this trail description because it is counterclockwise. You get the steepest part out of the way first and have the Greenleaf AMC Hut to look forward to 1.1 miles into your 4 mile descent back to thecar. Be sure to take some money with you if the hut is operating. I usually do but didn't on this trip. Those cookies and lemonade sure looked inviting! I did the 8.8 mile trek with 4000 elevation gain in 7.5 hours total including rest and eating stops of about 1/2 hour total. Well worth the time and effort!
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Franconia Ridge Trail Photos

Trail Information

Grafton County
Nearby City
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly, Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
USGS Lincoln and Franconia quads; AMC White Mountain National Forest Map & Guide, G4–H4 (AMC)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Sep 2018