Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

HARD 1,529 reviews

Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop is a 8.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Franconia, New Hampshire that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,805 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

washed out

This is a very popular full day hike for good reasons. On a clear day, you are unlikely to find better views in New England. Combine this with strenuous and nerve-wrecking hiking on the 'knife-edge' between Mount Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette and you have the recipe for a great day out. As a bonus you will ascend three peaks, including the highest mountain outside the Presidential Range - Mount Lafayette.

1 day ago

Great views, easy to follow trail. Very strenuous climb up. Only one restroom at the Green Leaf Hut 5 hours after beginning the loop (so come prepared).

hiking
2 days ago

My brother and I did this hike and we really enjoyed it! It was windy on the ridge and many people went back down Falling Waters Trail. We had determination and we went for it. We were in nothing but fog on the ridge and it was windy but what an adventure! It is a long hike but my brother and I hike about every weekend therefore it wasn't very challenging. The hardest part was the winds on the ridge therefore, if you don't like winds and exposure I would suggest to bring trekking poles if you go back down Falling Water Trails. Even though we had no views, this hike was definitely an amazing experience and we'll be back for a clear day to see the views next time!

2 days ago

Falling Waters killed me. I hike often but hours of climbing up rocks just killed me. We got within 30 minutes of the summit and turned back because there was so much ice on the rocks. Next time I’m going up AND down the bridal path. Going down Falling Waters was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life, two days later I still have vertigo. I did enjoy talking to the other hikers, everyone was so friendly and had great attitudes and nice things to say.

hiking
3 days ago

Completed this hike 10/14/18 — began around 8am, finished at 5:30pm with some stops for snacks and to enjoy the views at the summits.

Crampons/microspikes were a life saver on the icy/slushy rocks. I wish I had poles with me.

This was my first long day hike, and first hike to go beyond 2000ft of altitude gain. Challenging, but not impossible; a few tricky spots, mostly because of steep inclines, ice or melting snow.

The views at the summits were unreal. We got autumn and winter all in one.

Loved the camaraderie on the trails and positive attitudes of all hikers. Truly a wonderful experience and highly recommended. Can’t wait to come back.

3 days ago

Hard but worth it!

hiking
3 days ago

Did this trail on October 14, and started it at 8am, finished about 6:30pm, and that’s with quite a few stops along the way, and about a 30 min lunch break at the summit. We took the Falling river trail up, and bridal path down. The hike is challenging(mostly because it’s a long hike) but if you are in decent shape, you should handle it ok. Id recommend waterproof hiking boots and gloves, especially if doing this trail in the autumn months, because it may be snowy/icy (near the summit especially) and muddy (like it was for us).
Breathtaking views at the top for sure, well worth it.

3 days ago

October 14. Started at 8am. Got to the first summit at 12pm. Started to go down at 2:30 pm. Finished at 6:30 pm. 10,5 hours non stop hike.

hiking
3 days ago

It was very challenging but worth it! An 8.5-mile loop trail in Franconia, New Hampshire took a total of 7 hours. As I was hiking to the top, I saw ice and snow. Yup, snow in the middle of October! I got autumn and winter all in one. This hike reminded me of the moment when I was hiking to Annapurna Circuit Trek in the Himalayas, Nepal back in 2010.

4 days ago

Did this hike 10/13. Snow became sleet on the ridge. Whiteout. No views and slippery. Even without snow, I recommend hiking poles as this trail is a real class 5 boulder climbing trail. Go up Falling waters and down Bridle. And, guide said this is an 8 hour hike but most take 9 BUT everyone I spoke with said give yourself 10 hours or you will never stop to eat! VERY challenging trail. Not for altitude, but for elevation gain and very boulder strewn “trail.” Bring crampons if snow is even a remote possibility.

hiking
4 days ago

What an amazing hike. My friend and I only had one full day in the White Mountains and this is the hike that we chose. It was a perfect choice. We lucked out with clear skies at the top. It was a little rough with 100 mph gusts of wind, but we had hats, gloves, and layers so we were good.

My 9 pound dachshund made the hike as well, so don't doubt your abilities. It's definitely a hard hike, but you can definitely do it as long as you keep going.

Everybody talks about how hard the climb is, but do not underestimate the descent. It is hard on your knees and seems to go on forever. Don't forget...what goes up will go down!
Enjoy the hike and views, it's absolutely amazing.

4 days ago

I am literally the slowest walker ever and not in the best nor worse shape and this hike kicked my butt. It took approximately 9 hours and there was a blizzard on the top. Still was super fun but now I’m in recovery for about 3 days.

hiking
4 days ago

It was very cloudy when I went, with a few breaks in the clouds. But it was totally worth it! Just walking along the ridge to Mount Lafayette was breath taking! It was a pretty long trail, I would recommend going up Mount Little Haystack and down Mount Lafayette, it is less steep in my opinion going up Mount Little Haystack.

hiking
7 days ago

Seriously great hike; challenging in a few spots, but determination got us all through.

hiking
7 days ago

Between the waterfalls and the ridge it was an easy to rate this 5 star...awesome. Check out my write up along with some other things to look out for.
http://www.eastcoasthiker.com/trails/lafayette

hiking
9 days ago

So I went with my girlfriend, friend, and his wife this past Saturday for the first time and we had a great time. A couple of things to note - this is a very busy trail, many trails around this area are not nearly as busy. At time we found ourselves in lines of 20 people going up/down so be prepared for a bit of a log jam at certain points in the trail.

We hiked up Falling Waters and down Old Bridle, total round trip was probably quicker than the average at 6 hours. I will say along some other people on here that it was a very foggy day and we didn't get any of the views that you would traditionally get. We had a good time and brought the dog along with us (for anyone else that hiked that day she was the black lab crying the entire time).

The hike is challenging in the sense that you need to be in decent shape but by no means really hard. On a clear day it's probably an amazing hike but was just ok without the views. Also - on the way down Old Bridle has some great cliff spots that give great views of the ridge that are worth stopping and taking in. Also lastly, be prepared for a TON of people parking down in the parking lot and along I-93, arrive early to avoid having to park at the lot an additional mile away and take the shuttle. Also the bathrooms at the trailhead get very backed up.

10 days ago

Incredible

hiking
10 days ago

Okay, don’t let any posts scare you. My fiancé and I are in decent shape, in our 20’s, and are novice hikers, and we did this in a total of 8 hours- many stops, especially when ascending, but you CAN do this!! Our fitbits/Apple Watch tracked the whole thing to 9 total miles. Yes it’s very tough, and you will at some points hate everything, but it’s not a race, remember you can take all the time you need. We did this hike on October 6th- we didn’t take into account it was Columbus Day weekend and Canadian thanksgiving so the trail was flooded with people. We kept passing people, then we would take breaks and see them pass us and vice versa, a funny little game it seemed. We brought about 5L total water (you can refill at the hut), plenty of snacks, jackets, beanies, gloves and anything else you can think of to layer, because you’ll need it- especially at the summit since we’re heading into the colder months. Since it was a Saturday we got to the trailhead parking lot at 7:40 exactly and got lucky because there were about 10-20 spots left in the lot (keep in mind we totally forgot it was Columbus Day weekend and Canadian thanksgiving). So I’d say if you’re going on a regular weekend you’re totally safe to get a spot by 7:30. All in all it was a great experience, and we will definitely be back!

hiking
10 days ago

Awesome hike! I’m pretty much out of shape so the whole loop took me around 7.5 hours with LOTS of stops and a good lunch break. First time I hiked in the clouds so the view from the summit was obscured. Clouds or not, terrific experience! Be ready to layer up at the top. Gloves and a hat are recommended. The Greenleaf hut was an awesome relief! Great pumpkin bread!!

hiking
10 days ago

Didn’t see a thing at the top. But I’m glad I did the hike. Took wrong turn at the top and kept going on the ridge. Extra 2km to the planned 14km.

11 days ago

Rigorous but really a great hike. Lots of fun people on the trail so not advised if you want solitude.

11 days ago

Terrific hike. Challenging but fun. It’s best to plan around the weather to ensure visibility from the summit. Amazing views.

Realy hard hike, did it today - October 6th, it was so much fog/clouds that we couldn't see anything, even though it was disappointing not to have clear sky and beautiful views, it was unique experience nevertheless. Trekking polls are a must in my opinion.

12 days ago

Awesome hike! One of the best in the Whites.

hiking
14 days ago

Amazing!!!

backpacking
14 days ago

Amazing hike for any level! I am a well seasoned backpacker and this is one of my favorite, the views from the ridge trail cannot be best! We extended our hike a bit to make a weekend of it. We went up Old Bridle Path (which is less busy going up) to the top of Lafayette and then over the ridge trail but we went PAST Falling Waters and stayed at the Liberty Spring Tent Site ($10/pp). The total first day hiking was about 5 hours. We got up at 4am the next morning and hiked to the summit of Mt. Liberty ( about 30 mins from the tent site) so we could catch the stars and an INCREDIBLE sunrise! After sunrise we hiked back down to camp, packed up and continued down the Liberty Spring Trail to the bike path (approx 2 hours). We then walked along the bike path about 50 minutes back to the car at the campground parking lot. Do this route and you will not be disappointed. Bring cash if you plan to buy anything at Greenleaf hut or stay at the tent site.

hiking
14 days ago

One of my favorite hikes ever. Absolutely unreal views from the top. Went up there early July 2018. Took the falling waters up, and old bridle down. If I do it again, I will plan to go in the reverse, (probably easier on the knees to come down the easier side). Was able to get some incredible pictures. It took me about 10 hours with my dog, taking our sweet sweet time, with quite a long lunch break on top.. I couldn’t get enough of the views! Five stars for sure!

hiking
17 days ago

I did this! You can too! While I'm not a total novice to hiking (have done Monadnock and other hikes) I am pretty out of shape and this was my first 4000 fter. I completed this in 8 1/2 hours, including lots of short breaks. We did falling waters up (3 hours), the ridge (2 hours), down to the Greenleaf hut (1 hour), then down Old Bridle Path (2 1/2 hours). The hut had homemade bread, soup, coffee and water. They also had bathrooms. Definitely research the weather at the top. We brought up winter jackets and gloves and needed them. This was a difficult hike with an amazing reward. My husband has done a lot of hikes and said this was his favorite.

18 days ago

Beautiful!!!

19 days ago

Excellent views.

hiking
19 days ago

Best hike in the entire white mountains. definitely go during the week if you can since it will be way less crowded... I went up Falling Waters and was blown away by how scenic and moderate it was! Only the last mile or so is even remotely strenuous. And of course the views from the top on the ridge.. are OUT OF THIS WORLD. I could have spent ours up there. I was lucky to go up on a clear warm day. The view points down the Old Bridal Path are also amazing. Will definitely be doing this hike more.

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