Extended Franconia Ridge Traverse

When Hurricane Earl threatened to bring rain over Labor Day weekend, we modified our plans to stick closer to home.  Original plan was to head north to the Bigelow Range by Flagstaff Lake in Maine.  But we put that off until the following weekend and came up with a last minute plan for a day trip over the long weekend.  We had many unfinished projects that needed to get done at home anyway, so it made sense to stay close.  Plus, I wanted to try out my new sewing machine that Alex got me for my birthday!!  More on that later….

So, Alex and I hatched up an idea to hike the Franconia Ridge – as suggested by Mel on this hike from earlier this summer.  The plan was this:

Hike up the Flume Trail to Franconia Ridge Trail, over Flume, to Liberty, Little Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette and down the Bridal Path for a total of ~14 miles.  We stashed our bikes at the Lafayette Campground so we could ride (downhill) on the bike path along Route 93 back to the car after our hike.

We left Newburyport at 8AM, and got on the trail at 11AM on the nose.  The weather was mild, and humid at the bottom.  The Flume Trail started out very gradually, but after a couple of miles, the trail started getting very vertical.  The loose scree turned to slabs of rock that you had to use your rock climbing skills to get up and over.  Once we topped out onto the Franconia Ridge Trail, we were rewarded with views of the ridge from Mount Flume.  The wind picked up a bit, and temps were a little cooler.  At Flume, we ran in to a solo hiker looking to do the same trail as us, so she joined us for the rest of the day until we reached Galehead Hut.  From Flume, you drop down quite a bit and then head back up Liberty.  Once you get to Little Haystack, you pretty much have unencumbered views of the ridge and above tree-line views until you duck back into the woods after Galehead hut on the Bridal Path.  The Franconia Ridge Loop is extremely popular, and on the holiday weekend, there was a significant amount of traffic on the trail.  We were shocked by what some people were wearing for clothing and footwear.  Unbelievable how unprepared some people can be for those kind of unpredictable conditions.  While we were on the ridge, the weather shifted, and the showers that were threatening started moving in.  It started raining heavily on top of Lafayette, so we speed hiked down to the hut.  It was then that I broke my toe as I mentioned earlier today, by jamming my foot after sliding off a wet rock.   Oooww!  But it didn’t slow me down until we got home.  We ran down the Bridal Path after waiting out the rest of the rain at Galehead Hut.  We had a lot of fun passing all the Canadians and teenagers in soggy jeans and cotton t-shirts.  We made it out before dark, grabbed our bikes, and cruised the last 2 miles (all downhill) back to the car.  What a great ending to an incredible day.  We hit the Woodstock Inn for local craft brew and yummy food and drove home with time to watch a movie and veg on the couch.  Again, I must say how great New England is – having amazing mountains less than 2 hours away to play in.

You can see the pictures from our hike on Facebook here.

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