Mt Lafayette and Franconia Ridge


• 5-star hike
• 8.3 mile loop
• Medium difficulty | Elevation gain 3,870 ft
• White Mountains | Franconia NH
Google MapGoogle Earth KMLNavigate


Looking South along Franconia Ridge towards Mt Lincoln.

Combine the huge peaks of Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln with the spectacular, wide panoramic views of Franconia Ridge and you have yourself an epic hike, and for some an epic challenge.

We chose a counter-clockwise loop to tackle the steepest part of the route first, and so we’d get the best views of several great waterfalls along the Falling Waters Trail. Stairs Falls leads to Switftwater Falls, then on to the even taller Cloudlands Falls. Though the Falling Waters Trail involves some stream crossings, they’re easy to navigate and though you’ll want to tread carefully the rocks were not slippery.

The last part of Falling Waters Trail is the thigh-burner, but you’re quickly rewarded by the satisfaction of reaching the first of three summits – Little Haystack at 4,760 feet.

Hopefully you’ve picked the right day to hike this trail, because on a clear day you have 360 degree views of the famed New Hampshire White Mountains as you follow the rocky Franconia Ridge first to Mount Lincoln (5,089 ft) then on to Mount Lafayette (5,249 ft).


Falling Waters trail.

If the weather’s not perfect, then you might like to take shelter in Lafayette’s rock-wall refuge for a reconsitutional break, before the long descent of Greenleaf and Old Bridle Path to complete the loop.

We labeled this hike as medium difficulty because aside from the last part of Falling Waters, the trail elevations gain is relatively gradual. Just as long as you are aware that the total climb on this hike is equivalent to just under four Empire State Buildings! Trail was around 85% to 90% rocks underfoot.

Trailhead is immediately adjacent to the I93 freeway, and because of the popularity of this trail the large parking lot tends to fill up pretty quickly, so an early start is recommended.

Route Summary:
• Falling Waters Trail > Franconia Ridge Trail > Greenleaf Trail > Old Bridle Path

Tangents:
AllTrails link
AMC Four Thousand Footer Club #7 and #8
Trailspotting NH hiking trail reviews
Trailspotting NH map of trails
Comment at Facebook Trailspotting Group