We were looking for a beautiful hike in New Hampshire on our way up to a family vacation at the The Farm! When you google “Best Hikes in NH” you are almost guaranteed to get Franconia’s Ridge as a recommendation!
Zack, Nova and I drove up after work, alternating sleeping and driving to start on the trail early in hopes of getting up there before sunrise! We parked at the Lafayette Parking Lot.
We put on our head lamps and set out on Old Brindle Path. We decided to continue up Old Brindle Path as it is not as steep as the falling waters trail; plus the name “falling waters trail” just doesn’t sound fun to attempt in the pitch black!
Hiking with a dog is always interesting, but hiking with a dog in the dark can be pretty spooky, especially if you are afraid of the dark like I am. Nova will turn around a stare off into the woods, or further back on the trail. It makes you realize, you never know what kind of ax murderer or creature is going to come eat you! She is almost always right, that there is someone, or a critter, there… low and behold after maybe 20 minutes of her staring back someone came up the path.
You never know who you are going to meet hiking, and it is always interesting. The guy behind us was hiking in total darkness, which is why Nova was the only one to notice him. We leapfrogged with him a bit and then decided to hike as a group. We learned he is also an engineer, and that he is from the Philly area. He was able to hike in the dark because he had a night vision monocle! He was nice enough to even let us try it, which was awesome to be able to see so much detail in the dark world around you and to be able to look up at the stars and see ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! After about 1.5 miles we made it up above treeline, with a beautiful view of the valley!
As you hike up Old Bridle Path, about 2.7 miles in, you pass the BEAUTIFUL Greenleaf Hut, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Passing the Greenleaf hut, we knew we weren’t making it up to the peak of Lafayette for sunrise, but we could see peak and the pond by the Greenleaf Hut, where we could get more water.
The little group of us continued up and up, where we gave Nova a little food and water and had a quick snack by the pond and kept on hiking up.
After re-fueling we continued up to the summit of Mt. Lafayette!
Atop Mt. Lafayette we sat for a family photo and parted with our new friend as we hiked across Franconia’s Ridge!
Nova was happy as could be hiking along the ridge (what is with those ears?!), and we enjoyed the breathtaking views!
As we hike we looked back and saw the peak of Mt. Lafayette, and the start of our Franconia adventure!
Zack will sometime takes videos of Nova and I walking, I think he is waiting to get a shot of her pulling me down! I have to say, I am very jealous every time I see how easily Nova travels while she hikes. You can clearly tell in the video below how much more graceful Nova is hiking thank I am with my short little legs!
As we hiked along the ridge we were able to sit and chat with a few hikers on their last push of the AT! I had extra gummy bears and was able to share which they seemed super stoked about! (I even took the trash so they could keep their packs light)
After hiking up and along the ridge line over Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Little Haystack we turned down the Falling Waters Trail. This trail was beautiful to hike down, but there were a lot of people hiking up on this beautiful day. In addition, the upper half of the trail is somewhat narrow so coming down with a large dog and a lot of people coming up was a little frustrating.
We stopped for a little break to rest our knees and let everyone pass.
We continued to hike down and got a beautiful picture in front of one of the water falls this beautiful trail was named after!
TRIP RATING: 10/10 – 1/2 day ~ 8.8 miles and 3,800 ft of elevation gain
Based on this experience, I would 100% recommend getting out to the Franconia Ridge Trail! This is a BEAUTIFUL trail, but can be crowded, try to get up there early or on an off day (like a week day). I would also suggest trying to meet new people when you are out there! You never know who you will meet and what you will learn! Plus the ridge is part of the AT (Appalachian Trail) so bringing extra snacks to perform a little trail magic during the season is always welcome from tired thru hikers (Pro tip – take the trash from the snacks you share, they don’t want the extra weight!)
TECHNICAL: Hiked 8/20/2016
- ~4:30AM – Park in the Lafayette Parking Lot
- Hike up Old Brindle Path
- 6AM – Pass by the Greenleaf Hut
- 7:45AM – Summit Mt. Lafayette
- Hike the 1.5 miles across Franconia Ridge
- ~9:45AM – Turn down Falling Waters Trail
- 11:30AM – Arrive back at the car and head off to one of my favorite places on the planet the Farm!
FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS & SUGGESTIONS:
- Be friendly to your fellow hikers, you never know who your going to meet!
- Remember to sit and enjoy the view when you get a chance!