First time hiking since last fall and I could not have picked a better day to go. To celebrate one year of work at my new job in Massachusetts I decided it would be best to stop working for 10 days to do some outdoor stuff. The plan for the day was to head up to the White Mountains and head up Lincoln and Lafayette which my father and grandfather have constantly boasted about every time hiking is a topic of conversation. That being said I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. As if the day wasn’t great enough I knew Sarah would be with me as well. We got up at a reasonable hour (if you don’t consider 6:00 a.m. reasonable for a hike then you don’t know me) and headed north up I93. Due to the usual meandering we got to the trailhead right at about 10:00 a.m. The trailhead itself is quite easy to find just look for the Old Bridle Path/Falling Waters trailhead sign off of 93 and you’re there.
After we got the gear on I followed the advice of my grandfather and took the falling waters trail which leads you along some nice waterfalls and rapids all the way up to the beginning of the Franconia Ridge Trail. I was also told to keep my eye out for a 80 foot waterfall as my father told me a story of his friend who had fell from the top all the way down. With all of this in mind we took off. The trail is very easy to follow and the signage along the way makes it very challenging to get lost.
Almost immediately after taking the Falling Waters Trail you begin a slight ascent. Along the way you are accompanied by some beautiful streams and waterfalls which makes focusing on climbing very difficult. We took some time along the way to take some pictures of the rapids and admire the waterfalls.
We also managed to stop by the big waterfall my father had told me about. From the looks of it I would estimate the falls were around 80 feet. Looking at it from the top it was amazing to me that anyone who fell from that height could have survived. My fathers friend was lucky.
After admiring the scenery we decided it was time to put our heads down and haul ass for a while. The climb became very steady but not overwhelming. We would hike the ascent towards Little Haystack for about 45 minutes before my phone started ringing. It was my father who knew where I was and could not wait to ask me if I had seen the waterfall his buddy plummeted off of. After a brief conversation and a drink of water we kept on going. The pace for the most part was slow and steady as I wanted to make sure we could go for a long time without needing to stop. After a couple hours we finally broke tree line and approached the summit of Little Haystack. Although its not officially part of the AMC 4000 footers the summit of Little Haystack is well over 4000 feet. The view at the top was amazing as they are unobstructed 360 degrees.
After spending about 15 minutes on Little Haystack we headed down the Franconia Ridge Trail toward Mt. Lincoln. The entire trail was above tree line making this a completely new hiking experience for me as the views were incredible for the entire ascent of Lincoln. The climb up to Lincoln was easy compared to the ascent of Little Haystack and in 25 short minutes we were at the summit of Mt Lincoln. The views likewise were unbelievable for 360 degrees much like the entire ridge up to this point.
After spending a short 10 minutes enjoying the summit of Lincoln we headed off for the biggest peak of the day Mt Lafayette. The summit of Lafayette was only a mile away from Lincoln and when you can see the entire trail up to that point it seems like it is a lot closer. We kept up our slow and steady pace for the next 45 minutes until we reached the summit of Lafayette. The climb was very straight forward with little to no scrambling along the way, which is good because there are plenty of amazing views to distract you.
From the summit of Mt Lafayette we knew it would be a 3.8 mile hike back to the trailhead. Before heading back we wanted to stop at Greenleaf Hut which was only 1.1 miles down the Franconia Ridge Trail. As usual I take it slow down the mountain as getting hurt is something I am not particularly interested in. Sarah however likes to go much faster and gets annoyed when I kind of drag my feet because I am over cautious. So at this point I decided I would go slow to the point where it was extremely annoying. It worked. Anyway we kept our slow pace until we made it to Greenleaf Hut. Inside there were a bunch of bunks for hikers looking to stay the night and a few treats for sale such as brownies and lemonade. The view of the ridge from the hut were also pretty amazing.
After spending some time at the hut we made our way down the Old Bridle Path and back to the trailhead. The hike down was very easy to the point where I didn’t want to go very slow anymore and annoy Sarah. We stopped just once from the time we left the hut until we got back to the road. Overall we could not beat this day.
Recommendation To Hikers: Regardless of how experienced you are this hike offers the reward of amazing views for a very long period of time. Being just over 9 miles it is easily done in a day and it is not overly difficult in my opinion. Just be cautious of some wet spots along the Falling Waters trail as you do no want to take a tumble in the rapids. If you want to become addicted to the outdoors this is a good place to start.
Lincoln: Difficulty – 6 Views – 10
Lafayette: Difficulty – 6 Views – 10