Last weekend Ryan and I headed up north with our friend Jason to tackle the Franconia Ridge Loop. We got up early, stopped for egg sandwiches on the way, and arrived at the parking lot next to the Lafayette Campgrounds at just about 8:30. It was already packed which tells you something about summer hiking in New Hampshire. Granted, it was the Thursday before a holiday weekend, but still- we were surprised at how crowded the trails were!
The Franconia Ridge Loop is a tough trail and I highly recommend checking out All-Trails if you’re going to give it a go. It’s 8.6 miles in distance, hitting three 4000-footer summits, and took us about 5-5 1/2 hours total. Granted, we don’t rest too long while we’re hiking.
The first portion of the hike was mostly in the forest, which provided great shade. It was hot and very humid, so we were sweating pretty quickly, especially because the incline got pretty steep pretty fast. I definitely hadn’t drank enough the night before.
We went up Falling Waters to the ridge and the trail was beautiful, complete with rushing rivers and waterfalls. It was a little slippery, but I was glad to get it out of the way first. We try to front load our hikes with the more difficult sections and that was definitely the case here.
Once we got to our first summit, Little Haystack Mountain, the sun was shining and the humidity had lessened. I love hiking along a ridge trail. The views seem to go on for miles, all the way out to the misty, blue grey mountains in the distance. The landscape is such a neat deviation from the forest and you really feel small in the grand scheme of where you are.
In total, we summited Little Haystack Mountain, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Lafayette. That means I’m three peaks closer to my 4000-footer goal.. just 43 left to go!
The challenge that comes from hiking these mountains is invigorating. It’s one of those things that you just have to push through, no matter how tired or sore you are feeling. The views definitely make it worth it, though.
Now that we’re living in New Hampshire and the White Mountains are only two hours away (rather than four.. it is a big difference!) we plan to get out on hikes much more frequently. It is a bummer that our summer hike at the AMC huts got canceled but that doesn’t mean that the mountains are closed. It was nice to see that everyone on the trails was being respectful and keeping a wider distance when passing, and overall, it was very comfortable being back out on the trails.
Following the Old Bridal Path down the mountain was a break at first but then got a little tough on the knees. We were under the impression that the AMC closed all the huts this year due to Covid-19, however, we were thankful that the Greenleaf hut was actually open when we hiked by. By that point, we all needed a water refill and their outdoor faucet did the trick. I had definitely relaxed on one of the most essential rules when it comes to tackling these mountains: always bring extra water.
Ryan and I are already talking about what hike we should tackle next and we even booked a B&B in Acadia in August so we can try something totally new! Now that things are reopening, the outdoors are definitely calling, and we plan to take full advantage. If you can make it up to the Whites, I highly suggest giving the Franconia Ridge Loop a try.