The Classic Franconia Ridge Loop

Date of hike: 8/28/10

Old Bridle Path: 2.9 miles
Greenleaf Trail: 1.1 miles
Franconia Ridge Trail: 1.7 miles
Falling Waters Trail: 3.2 miles
Total Miles: 8.9 (3,900 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- One of the most popular hikes in the White Mountains is the Classic Franconia Ridge Loop via the Old Bridle Path, Greenleaf, Franconia Ridge, and Falling Waters Trail.  The route travels over the summits of Mount Lafayette, Lincoln, and Little Haystack and a good day the views above treeline in the Alpine Zone are simply amazing.
- Accompanying me for the hike was my friend and old neighbor from RI, Gina, who would be hiking for the first time in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  For this hike she ditched her fashionable Arden B. clothes for comfy outdoor hiking clothes and traded in holding onto her Coach and Dooney & Bourke handbags to holding onto rock slabs and tree trunks as she hiked her way up, over, and down the Franconia Ridge!
- Left RI at 6am, on trail at 9am, finished at 5pm. Temps in 60's and 70's below treeline, in the low 50's above treeline.  Mostly clear with fantastic 60 plus mile views with very light wind.
- As with most great weather days on the Franconia Ridge the trails were packed with all kinds of hikers and all kinds of dogs having a blast.
- The hike up to Greenleaf Hut was pretty easy going, I let Gina set the pace as she went up the trail, her two favorite things to say while hiking where "Where do I go...this way??!!" when she got to an undistinguished part of a trail and "I hate you, I'm going to kill you" when she had to climb up a steep ledgey part...I could tell she loved it!
- At the hut we relaxed and refueled on freshly baked cookies made by the hut crew and chewed on some stale trail mix left behind by the hut crew...Gina liked Greenleaf Hut, especially the cookies and she now refers to the hut as "The Cookie Hut"!
- From the hut to the summit of Mount Lafayette is where the views open up and hiking above treeline begins.  Once gaining the ridge and summiting we relaxed and had lunch and enjoyed the views.  There were two AT thru-hikers with their two dogs that I struck up a conversation with.   They started hiking March 29th and had covered over 1,800 miles with just over 300 left with the best yet to come, I offered them some "Trail Magic" but they said they had plenty of food.
- From here we hiked along the Franconia Ridge above treeline over Mount Lincoln to Little Haystack while enjoying spectacular views of Franconia Notch to the west and the Pemigewasset Wilderness to the east.
- Along the way while approaching Mount Lincoln we were greeted by a glider plane quietly soaring about one hundred feet above us as it flew back and forth between Mount Lafayette and Little Haystack.
- Once to Little Haystack we took another long break to have a snack and enjoy the views one last time before dropping back down below treeline on the Falling Waters Trail.
- The hike down Falling Waters Trail was a drag until we reached the part that travels along the waterfalls.  From here on out the hike went pretty quickly as we enjoyed the parts of the trail that crossed the river while taking in the views of the waterfalls.
- Back at the car I could tell Gina was really happy to be done hiking and to change out of her sneakers and into her comfy flip-flops. In the end her favorite part of the hike were the waterfalls and hiking along the river, and as far as her first hike in the White Mountains went she did exceptionally well and killed it like a rock star!!

Pictures: Click here for all pictures

Eagle Lake and Mount Lafayette
Franconia Ridge (AT)
Owl's Head and the Pemi Wilderness
Hiking along the Franconia Ridge (AT)
"Cliff of the Bonds"

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