Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop is a 8 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.
A fantastic strenuous ridge-hike with great views all around. 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.
Did this loop today. The weather was perfect. Trails were not crowded at all. I would strongly recommend crampons and gaiters. Even a pole or poles are good to have. The snow covered trails made it quite the workout. You don't have to be an expert climber but if you are an amateur, be prepared for trails that go straight up for long periods of time. It's definitely a great time of year to climb.
Awesome time you can see the whole mountain basically the whole hike it's Ike a bowl and you need crampons for your feet lots of snow and ice at some points fun tho not that steep at all just the last part when heading to the summmit . I thought mt pierce was a harder hike then this .
I also only hiked up to Lafayette and then back down the same side didn't do the loop
My boyfriend and I did this hike yesterday. We're pretty experienced hikers and this trail was difficult due to ice. We didn't bring the spikes for the bottom of our shoes and we regretted it. We started with falling waters path and it has you crossing the river about four times. It was very powerful due to all the snow melting. We actually had to walk across a 6 foot log to make it to the other side one of the times. You have to have waterproof hiking boots. You won't get through without getting wet. The views from the top made this all the worth it though!!
Agree with Nick below. We hiked the loop starting at Falling Waters and going down the old bridle path. The descent from Mt Lafayette was the most treacherous I have encountered in a while, with the snow melt turning the trail into a stream. Everyone we passed going up the old bridle path spoke of how high the water was on Falling Waters (to the point where they had turned around and gone up the other way) so you may not want to assume you can hike down Falling Waters to complete your loop (there are a lot of steep icy descents where you would fall into the water, so descent would be almost impossible, even without the water level).
VERY STEEP HIKE. PLEASE BE PREPARED TO SAVE YOURSELF.
I am an experienced hiker in the summer, having trekked many miles mostly in Pennsylvania and below as well as New Mexico (Philmont Scout Ranch). But I was terribly unprepared for this hike without clingons (mental grips for the bottom of your hiking boots) as well as hiking poles.
IF THERE IS SNOW ON THE GROUND, I HIGHLY SUGGEST HAVING CLINGONS AND HIKING POLES OR YOU WILL NOT MAKE IT MORE THAN 3 MILES.
If you follow the loop clockwise, the first mile is moderate, but then the trail gets steep and icy very quickly. Made it to the hut before deciding to turn around. And coming down was just as difficult as going up.
Please be careful and prepare before hiking this, amateurs and experts alike.
Awesome day hike!
Forgot all about my sore muscles once I saw the view from the top. Amazing hike.
Must-do hike, views, a bit of a challenge, different types of hiking paths, nice cabin at the first top stopping point. Great snacks! bring cash for those baked goods.
Forgot to bring my snow cleats with me on trip so couldn't get past the 3500 ft range as it got too slippery to get footing :/ but the views are amazing and highly recommend
My girlfriend and I did this hike last year on October and I have to say it was amazing. We are not experts in hiking but we were able to get to the summit. It took us 7 hours to complete it.
It was cloudy but still able to see nice views, very cold and windy. We are already planning on going back and cross to Mt Lafayette also.
Check out my blog, I wrote a little about it. https://garciaanderson.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/hiking-on-the-white-mountains/
Great hike. Very challenging. The way down is steep and slick. Beautiful views. I strongly sudgest the break out trail to shining rock. Only a 10 minute detour and worth every second!
Very hard cause of the bad weather the 4th of January!
I've hiked several mountains in New Hampshire, but the Franconia Ridge Trail Loop has been the most epic and scene so far. My friend and I camped at Campton Campground (nice site, no complaints) the evening we arrived and then hit the trail the next morning. I wrote up a long photo-filled blog post about it if anyone is interested: http://photography.lukepeters.me/hiking-the-franconia-ridge-loop
I did this hike in the beginning of October. I am 18 and I brought 3 girls I nanny, two 8 year olds, and an 11 year old. This was a challenging hike but well worth it!!!! It was on and off drizzling. Took about 8 1/2 hours... I would suggest bringing duct tape since the entire bottoms of both of my hiking boots ripped off not even one mile in the hike...met some kind lady's about 2miles up who had a small supply of tape but didn't last very long... it was very hard to hike with no sole on my shoes, very slippery, and lots of free falling rocks.. wasn't till about 4-5hours in the hike when I was about half way through the loop when I met a group of men who also had someone in their group who's soul had started to rip off but not as bad as mine.. they had a whole role of duct tape which was very helpful.. but at the end of the hike they fell off again. I would highly suggest duct tape and some shoe glue for this hike.. The kids I were with never hiked a mountain.. they really pushed them selfs to get up and down this mountain.. It was hard at some points when they wanted to give up but they made it!!! Make sure you bring lots of water and food! Lastly I would suggest you bring extra layers and gloves... PLEASE DON'T FORGET A HEAD LAMP!!!!!!! I was dumb and stopped at the Greenleaf hut, when it was starting to get dark... The man who worked at the hut was nice enough and gave me a head lamp for free!! We were in the pitch dark for 15mins... this was very hard since all the kids were in a panic!! But as soon as we got to the car around 7:30 they were fine. Overall this is a beautiful trail!!! Just remember to be fully prepared for high winds and strong weather changes when you get to the top!!