Last 'Official' Winter Hike : Mount Lafayette & Lincoln

Date of Hike: 3/20/15

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 (3,950 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
-  With winter ending at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Whitney and I decided to sneak in one last hike.  The weather looked promising above treeline; in the clear under partly sunny skies, temps around twenty, and winds around 15 mph, so we headed to Franconia Ridge.
- When we pulled into the Falling Waters / Old Bridle Path Trailhead we were shocked by the amount of cars already parked in the lot.  All winter long we had barely seen anyone on our pre-work weekday hikes so this surprised us.
- We decided to do the loop clockwise, heading up Old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trail.  We both prefer to go this way in the winter as it feels easier heading across the ridge north to south.  The Old Bridle Path has moderate grades with some steep bursts in places, Whitney put on her snowshoes for better traction as the snow was not packed down enough for easy hiking.  I kept my microspikes on, I definitely should have went with my snowshoes, even though I wasn't post-holing I couldn't get in a groove hiking and I used up a little more energy than I wanted to, but it made for a good workout!
- When we reached Greenleaf Hut, we both made sure to layer up as the wind was whipping a little bit more than what the forecast predicted as we headed through the Agonies.  Luckily, as we made it to treeline the wind basically stopped and was non-existent, perfect timing!
- From just above the hut up to the summit of Mount Lafayette then south over Truman, Lincoln, and Little Haystack is around 2.5 miles of some of the best above treeline hiking in the White Mountains.  We finally started running into other hikers on the ascent up the summit cone, one of which (Paul) we knew from a mutual friend, he was enjoying a solo hike across the ridge today too.
-  At the summit we headed south and walked along the open ridge with Franconia Notch and the Kinsman Ridge to the west and the Pemigewasset Wilderness with Owl's Head, the Twin-Guyot-Bond range to the east.  It was an easy and fun hike From Lafayette to Lincoln and eventually over to to Little Haystack.  As we dropped down from Lincoln towards the 'Gargoyles' we started coming across the counter-clockwise hikers all enjoying the great weather and views.
-  When we hit Little Haystack we took in the views one more time before jetting down the Falling Waters Trail.  The snow levels on this end of the ridge were much deeper than on Old Bridle Path side making for a choppy but easy descent to through the switchbacks to the top of Cloudland Falls.
- Cloudland Falls, which is usually a magnificent sight to see was buried beneath so much snow that it just looked like a wall of white and not a waterfall at all.
- After passing by Cloudland, Swiftwater and Stairs falls we headed over the snowbridged Cold Brook and made quick work of the mostly level trail back to the parking lot.
- It was a perfect way to end the last day of winter, which means tomorrow when we wake up all the snow will have melted and the trails will be filled with lush green colors everywhere....ugh!  Can't wait until mid May when that's the case.  Shoulder season hiking, got to love it!
-  This was my 750th New Hampshire 4,000 footer, 36th time on Lafayette, 31st time on Lincoln, and both are now 'Gridded' (The Grid is hiking each of the 48 - 4,000 footers in each month over any period of time), making for a perfect end to winter :)

 Heading up the Old Bridle Path to the outlooks where Franconia Ridge comes in full view

 Seen along the way on the Old Bridle Path

 Looking to the south and to the west

 The 'Agonies'

 Greenleaf Hut and Mount Lafayette

 Eagle Lake and Mount Lafayette

 Hooking onto the Greenleaf Trail with our first destination in view

Heading up to Lafayette and looking back to the hut

 The sun trying to brin through the clouds as we head up the final section of the summit cone

 Cannon and the Kinsmans above Lonesome Lake

 Cannon Mountain and the ski area

 Kinsman Ridge all the way to Kinsman Notch and Mount Moosilauke

 Mount Lafayette summit

 The Bonds, and the Twins to Garfield

 The Twins and the Presidential Range

 Along the awesome Franconia Ridge Trail

 Mount Lincoln to the south (left), Mount Lafayette to the north (right)

 Owl's Head and the Bonds

Heading to Little Haystack and then looking back to Mount Lincoln

 Mount Lincoln

 Descending the Falling Waters Trail

Cold brook is almost buried in snow everywhere

 Signage and a bang a right blaze

Route for the day, click here for details


  1. A fitting way to wrap up the winter, Chris. Fabulous day and report! I'm a fan :-)

    -- Alex D. from PA

    1. Thanks, Alex! Glad you like the report, hope you have a nice spring hiking in PA :)