The Other White Mountains
"The deep glacial pass between Franconia Ridge and the Cannon-Kinsman range, known as Franconia Notch, displays some of the most dramatic scenery in the White Mtns. Here are such famed features as the Old Man of the Mountain, Cannon Cliff, Eagle Cliff, Profile and Echo Lakes, The Basin, The Flume and Indian Head. Much of this area is within Franconia Notch State Park, which is traversed by the Franconia Notch Parkway (a special section of I-93). A wonderful diversity of hikes for all abilities can be accessed from the Parkway. Lafayette Place Campground and the AMC's Lonesome Lake and Greenleaf Huts are convenient bases for exploring the region.
Mt. Lincoln & Lafayette Loop
Difficult (7½ hrs.)
8.9-mile (14.2 km) loop
Elevation gain 3900 feet (1189 m)
This rugged loop over the narrow, rocky crest of Franconia Ridge is a White Mountain classic, with pretty waterfalls, stupendous views, and over two miles of above-treeline walking. Hikers should take care to stay on the marked trail to avoid trampling alpine flora. Because of the exposure, this hike should be avoided in bad weather. Start at Lafayette Place parking area and follow Old Bridle Path for 0.2 mile. Turn right on Falling Waters Trail, traversing a slope to Dry Brook. Cross the stream and turn left past Stairs Falls. Cross again at the base of Swiftwater Falls and climb to Cloudland Falls—the prettiest on the trail—at 1.3 miles. At the top of the falls there's a view west to Mt. Moosilauke. (This is a good objective for a short hike.)
After several brook crossings, Falling Waters Trail climbs more steeply to a side path to the base of Shining Rock Cliff (view west) at 2.8 miles. From here the ascent is strenuous to Little Haystack Mtn. atop the ridge at 3.2 miles. Turn left on Franconia Ridge Trail. Views are continuous for the next 1 1/2 miles—the Pemigewasset Wilderness and The Presidentials to the east, Franconia Notch and Vermont to the west. Clamber up a"knife edge" of rock to Mt. Lincoln, then dip and climb again to Mt. Lafayette—highest in the range—at 4.8 miles. Turn left on Greenleaf Trail and descend in the open, then through scrub to Greenleaf Hut. Bear left here on Old Bridle Path and work your way down the steep Agony Ridge. Enjoy several spectacular outlooks across Walker Ravine to the upper ridge, then go down moderately through woods the final two miles, keeping straight at the loop junction.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication