Explore the Basin in Franconia Notch

The Basin Upper Parking Area

Explore pristine woods and waterfalls. The Basin itself (an enormous, granite pothole that has been eroded by the Pemigewasset River over 15,000 years).

The Basin is just one stop on the Pemigewasset Recreational Trail that follows along I-93 through Franconia Notch. The parking lot for the Basin is easily accessible from either north or south on I-93, and it has it's own exit sign which can't be missed.

Park in the lot and follow the signs towards the Basin. While the main attraction here is obviously the Basin itself, hiking through these woods on the Cascade Brook Trail is awesome too. After leaving the parking lot, turn left on the Pemigewasset Recreational Trail and walk about .25 miles until you see a trail on the right hand side (the Cascade Brook Trail).

In winter, cross-country skiers or snow-shoers can enjoy the relatively flat Pemigewasset Recreational Trail, which is accessible from the parking lot at the Basin as well as other spots in Franconia. If you choose not to turn right on the Cascade Brook Trail, you can simply continue on for another 2 miles to the Flume Gorge. The Pemi Trail is not a loop, so you'd need to come back the way you came from.

During the summer months, the Pemi Trail and the Basin can be packed with tourists, but during the winter, it's much quieter and peaceful. There will always be people up here skiing and snow-shoeing, but if you go on a week day, you can enjoy a relatively isolated experience on the Cascade Brook Trail.

There are tons of options here depending on what you want to do. If you just want a short walk to see the Basin and cascading waterfalls around it, the total distance is less than a mile there and back. If you want a more challenging and lengthier hike, you can continue to hike up the Cascade Brook Trail, which will eventually bring you to Lonesome Lake. Lonesome Lake is on the Appalachian Trail, and there's even a hut here that is open during the winter on a self-service basis. The total distance to Lonesome Lake from the Basin is about 2.5 miles, all up-hill on the way there. During the winter, the snow can actually make it a little easier to hike this trail, because the rocky path is covered, but coming back down can be a challenge when the snow is wet and slippery. Good hiking boots are a must for this if you want to enjoy it!

Pack List

  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Snow boots
  • Winter coat
  • Scarf
  • Extra layers
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Snow shoes (not necessary, but a good idea)
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RT Distance 1 Miles
Elevation Gain 300 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Easy access!

Super easy to get to, and the Basin is definitely an interesting sight. When I visited in the spring, the water was incredibly clear and beautiful. Even though it was only 50 degrees I wanted to jump in! Absolutely worth checking out if you are in the area.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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