Winter Classic Franconia Ridge Loop

Date of Hikes: 2/3/12

Old Bridle Path / Greenleaf / Franconia Ridge / Falling Waters: 8.9 miles (3,900 elevation gain)
Click here for trail descriptions

Trip Report:
- Friday's forecast was for partly sunny skies, temps in the teens, and some wicked winds of 50 mph plus out of the north west.  It was an iffy day to be above treeline but Alton and I decided to give it a go hoping to catch some views along the way.
- We arrived in the parking lot and not more than a minute later another guy drove by got out of his car and warned us about the weather, "You going up there?  I hope you know the winds will be 50 mph and rising, probably not a good idea, do you know what you're doing." I simply smiled and said, I know, it's ok, I've done this before, don't worry I know what I'm doing, thank you."  Unfortunately for that guy he missed out on one hell of a day!
- Alton and I took off up the Old Bridle Path passing only three other hearty souls along the way having fun in the winter wonderland of Franconia Notch.
- We made good time to Greenleaf Hut and took a few stops to take in the awesome views from the outlooks through Agony Ridge.
- At the Hut we changed into dry layers and put on crampons for the one mile exposed hike up to Mount Lafayette.  At first the winds weren't to bad but that all changed in the last half mile push to the summit.  They came whipping out of the northwest, it wasn't to bad at first but they kept getting stronger plus to make things a little more interesting a thick blanket of clouds descended upon us.
- When we reached the summit we were still in the clouds and I snapped just a couple of pictures put my camera away and knew we had to get the hell out of there.
- Dropping down off the summit got us out of the wind for maybe about one minute.  The trail isn't hard to follow but there are a few sections that go through scrub which in the winter fill with snow so if you're not careful and go off trail you end up in spruce trap hell, luckily we were just in post-hole hell but only for a few hundred feet.  There was no point in switching to snowshoes, the wind was picking up and we would have frozen up.
- The push over the sub summit Mount Truman and the final push up to Mount Lincoln was difficult, the wind was vicious and knocking us around, we had to crouch down a few times before moving ahead.  Luckily the skies were starting to open up so there was no need to worry about getting lost anymore.
- I took a few pictures but my main focus was gettin us over to Little Haystack and down below treeline where we could enjoy the safety of Falling Waters Trail into the woods.
- The hike over to Little Haystack was windy as well but I felt much safer now since the sky was clear and we were losing elevation.  We were able to get out of the wind as we passed the "gargoyels" but unfortunately for Alton she found a spruce trap and fell into the snow below her waist.  It was funny so I took a few pictures as she flopped around in the snow!
- The hike down to the falling Waters Trail was awesome as always, it takes on a much different look in the winter, the falls are mostly frozen over and the trail itself is easier to hike with all the rocks burried beneath the snow making for a perfect finish to a hike.

Click here for all pictures

 Greenleaf Hut and Mount Lafayette
 Unbroken Greenleaf Trail
 Hiking along the Franconia Ridge
 Cannon Mountain, Lonesome Lake, and North and South Kinsman
Heading to Little Haystack with Liberty and Flume in the background


  1. beautiful hike, this is by far my favorite hike in the White Mountains!

  2. I agree, no matter how many times I've hiked it I can't wait to do it again, whether it be in the winter with hard-core hikers or in the summer with hundreds of hikers of all different levels!