Backpack the Franconia Ridge Loop

Franconia Notch, NH

This should take roughly 2 nights, 1.5 days, with pristine wilderness and breathtaking panoramas. With good steep trails, epic multi-level waterfalls and swimming holes...so get ready for some sheer joy.

This is a multi-day backpacking loop in Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire (located in the the White Mountains).

Leave the car at the Lafayette Place Campground, (about 1700' elevation), then head up 1.4mi to Lonesome Lake. If you start hiking in the evening, as the sun is setting, you can stop here to set up hammocks a couple hundred feet off the trail, and hunker in for the night.

In the morning, hike up 1.7mi to reach the summit of Cannon Mountain (4077'). Trails shouldn't busy until you reach the summit, since a gondola takes tourists up the North side of the mountain. The trail is just shy of vertical at times climbing up and over granite slabs - you'll definitely break a sweat and feel a little burn on the sea-legs. This beautiful trail breaks into some branch silhouetted views as you near the peak.

The Kinsman Ridge Trail (2mi) will take you down the Northeast side of the mountain back to Franconia Notch Parkway, where you cross and start up the Greenleaf Trail (2.7mi) to the Greenleaf hut. At the hut, fill up on water and enjoy some sun on the rocks. For the night, set up camp a quarter mile down the mountain from the Greenleaf hut at one of the designated camping areas, since they don't allow camping in the Alpine.

The next day, it is only another 1.1 mi from the hut to summit of Lafayette Mountain at 5261'. At the summit there is a breathtaking three hundred and sixty degree view, especially looking south down the Franconia Ridge. Mosey the next 1.6 mi to enjoy the ridge, and stop often to take it in.

After the awe of the ridge, begin your trip down via the Falling Waters Trail, (3.2mi), from the Peak of Little Haystack at 4761' back to the car at 1700'. Falling Waters Trail is the perfect way to finish up a beautiful trip - picture lounging in pools at the base of cascading waterfalls with a splash of tequila. I was a happy clam.

I highly recommend the Franconia Notch area.

Pack List

  • Tent or hammock w/fly and plenty of 550
  • Water filter
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Map
  • Sleeping bag
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RT Distance 14.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 3000 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful wilderness, ridge views, waterfalls, fresh air, great trails challenging at times mellow at times. Highly recommend.


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