Hike the Flume Gorge
New Hampshire › Flume Gorge Parking Area
Added by Chris Mongeau
This is a beautiful hiking area in Fanconia Notch State Park with awesome opportunities to get photos of the gorge. Added bonus, head here in the winter months to avoid crowds and see the gorge freeze over.
The Flume Gorge in Franconia State Park is beautiful year round and every season has it's unique benefits. During the summer, the Flume is a highly frequented tourist destination and is usually crowded with groups of kids and families. Technically, the Gorge is closed during the winter and there are no shuttle buses from the entrance to where the trail begins, but it's a perfect opportunity for those looking for some isolated hiking in one of New England's most picturesque landscapes.
The Flume Gorge is located right off of Route 3 (Daniel Webster Highway) and is easily accessible by I-93, which cuts right through Franconia Notch State Park. The parking area is open and free to park at all seasons.
Chances are, if you visit the Flume on a day where the weather is decent, you'll see a handful of other people taking the hike. To enter the Flume Gorge in the winter time, walk around the visitor center and down the wooden steps. Since the Flume as an attraction itself is closed during the winter, the visitor center and all facilities are closed. In the wintertime, the boardwalk that goes through the gorge is removed and stacked, so it is not possible to hike through the entire gorge. Fortunately, the trail through the gorge loops back to the visitor center, so you can walk down to the point where the boardwalk is removed for the season (less than a mile) and then turn around and hike the Ridge Path as far as you'd like. When you've reached the red covered bridge, you'll want to cross the bridge and bear right heading up an incline towards the gorge.
If you follow the path towards the left (the Ridge Path) it will eventually bring you to the other side of the gorge, at which point you'd need to turn back and return the way you came.
There probably are people who have managed to hike through the gorge in the winter, but I definitely would not recommend attempting it. During most of the winter, the entire gorge is covered in ice, and the river doesn't freeze, so one slip could mean a very, very cold hike back to the car, at best.
Once you've made it to the gorge, enjoy the beautiful views and surreal walls of ice. If you turn around and hike the Ridge Path, there are some good views to see of the mountains in Franconia Notch State Park.
If you've never been to New Hampshire or aren't familiar with winters there, it is typically very cold. Average temperatures during the day in January are in the 20's fahrenheit, but it can be much colder and snow is common. Dress right and be prepared for lots of snow on the ground!
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Snow gear (not necessary, but definitely not a bad idea)
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At first I thought it was too touristy, but I actually really enjoyed the Flume Gorge. It isn't a long or difficult walk, but we took three hours because we were so intrigued. Definitely stop to read the signs - the history of the place and how it was formed is really interesting. It's just too beautiful and unique to miss. Take the longest route for sure; there's more to see than just the gorge. Great all year round.
Winter As Well
Came here in the winter on a whim just to see what it was like. Talk about intense! The whole gorge becomes a path through frozen waterfalls all along the right hand side. Definitely need crampons as the path gets taken out early winter.
Beautiful Spot, stopped here along a road trip through the Whites. It was winter and the bridge is actually removed through the gorge itself, so limited as to how far you can go (for your own safety) but still an awesome sight!
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