Hike to Greenleaf Hut via Old Bridle Path
New Hampshire › Old Brindle Path Trailhead
Added by Chris Mongeau
Hiking to the AMC Greenleaf Hut offers stunning views of the Franconia Ridge including Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack. From the hut, you'll also have an incredible view of Eagles Lakes and the surrounding White Mountain range.
To hike to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Greenleaf Hut, the best route for a day hike there and back is the Old Bridle Path. This hike is certainly doable in a day if you're interested in just hiking to the Greenleaf Hut.
You have a lot of options when hiking this trail. I am going to focus specifically on just hiking the Old Bridle Path to the Greenleaf Hut and continuing on to the summit of Mt. Lafayette. The Old Bridle Path is part of the Franconia Ridge Loop Trail, which is an 8.9 mile loop that also includes the Falling Waters Trail and trek across the ridge of Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack Mtn. If you're considering this hike and have plenty of time, I highly recommend hiking the whole loop and staying at the Greenleaf Hut for a night if you can.
To access the Old Bridle Path trailhead, you'll want to take I-93 to Franconia Notch State Park. If you're traveling north on I-93 to access Franconia Notch, park in the trailhead lot for the Falling Waters and Old Bridle Path trails (exit after the Basin). If you're driving south on I-93 from points north of Franconia, exit at Lafayette Place Campground and use the walkway tunnel under I-93 to cross beneath the highway to the trailhead.
Once you leave the parking lot and head towards the signs for the trailhead, you'll come to a small wooden bridge and signs pointing left for Old Bridle Path Trail or right for Falling Waters Trail. Head left onto the Old Bridle Path to begin your hike to Greenleaf Hut.
There are a few challenging points on this trail, but for the most part I would consider this an intermediate hike. The first mile or so is mostly dirt with some rocks to maneuver around, making it nice on the feet compared to the next mile and a half or so.
After the softer areas of the trail end, the hike turns into more of a climb up a granite stairway-type path. The most important thing to remember on this hike is to check the weather report for the entire day before you begin. This really is a great hike but it can turn terrible if a thunderstorm moves through, which can happen pretty quickly. The granite, when dry, is easy to walk up and across with good hiking shoes or boots. When it's raining or wet, the trail can become a literal river rushing down the mountain.
Conveniently, once you're on the Old Bridle Path, there are no turns you have to worry about taking—the path heads straight to the Greenleaf Hut and very little to no direction is needed besides staying on the trail. This is a protected forest area with a very fragile and beautiful forest bed of moss and ferns. If you're hiking this trail, remember to stay on the path at all times to protect this area for everyone to continue enjoying.
This is probably one of the most pristine areas of Franconia Notch State Park, likely because it is a challenging hike to ascend to Greenleaf Hut. Just before you come to the hut, you'll walk through a beautiful moss covered area of the trail.
The hut is an awesome sight for sore legs and empty stomachs. There are snacks and baked goods available during the full season (June 2nd to October 15th). You can book a room to stay the night here if you'd like, and this is something I can highly recommend for a beautiful sunrise the next morning. It is definitely recommended to make reservations here as there are only 40 or so beds and this is a popular destination for hikers in the area. For more information, head here.
If you choose not to stay the night but started your hike early and have some more time, you absolutely should continue on for the extra mile to hike up to the top of Mt. Lafayette and see the ridge line. The ascent looks a lot more challenging in my opinion from the hut—it's actually probably an easier hike in terms of the trail difficulty from what you traverse on the Old Bridle Path, but what can make this the most difficult is the wind. Hiking to the summit of Lafayette and back down the way you came will add a total of 2.2 miles to your day's hike.
Once you walk a few hundred feet into the pine trees around the hut on Greenleaf Trail, you begin to enter Alpine country. Most of the hike to the summit is an exposed mountainside trail on granite and dirt. The air up here is extremely dry and it's important to bring at minimum a liter of water per person (assuming you're hydrated from the start). If you can brave the wind, the view from the summit of Lafayette is really worthwhile. You'll also catch some good views of the Greenleaf Hut and surrounding mountains, including Cannon and the rest of Franconia Ridge.
After enjoying the summit, head back down toward the hut via the Greenleaf Trail to continue back the way you came on the Old Bridle Path.
If you don't have headlamps, keep in mind most of the 2.7 mile descent from the hut is under tree cover and the trail gets dark about an hour before actual sunset on a sunny day. From the hut, you'll continue back down the same route you came up to access Greenleaf (Old Bridle Path).
- Hiking boots
- Windbreaker or waterproof shell
- Extra layers
- Thermal or high hiking socks (on cooler days)
- Waterproof bag covering if even the slightest chance of rain
- First Aid
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Beautiful in winter too!
I did this hike in the winter, and even though the hut was closed, the view was spectacular. We had the entire trail to ourselves and the conditions weren't too windy that day. I definitely recommend this hike as one of the best in the whites because the view of the Franconia Ridge is incredible.
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