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Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

HARD 1701 reviews

Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop is a 7.8 mile heavily 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
7.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,776 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

bird watching

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.

muddy
snow
3 hours ago

beautiful hike, lot of waterfalls, copule of river crossings, snow on mount Lafayette almost gone. I was able to finished the loop in 4 hours. Highly recommend this loop hike. definitely for experienced hiker as some parts of the climb can be technical.

muddy
rocky
snow
11 hours ago

great trail, still packed with snow and i had no hiking boots, but made it. It was a bit slippery on the rocks coming down. If u plan to do a full loop - Definitely start with the falling water trail, no the other way around.

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 day ago

Creeks on falls trail are swole and few crossing we got wet on. Most snow melted but some remained on falls trail. It proved manageable without micro spikes with the dog and girl. Above tree line views are spectacular and well worth the climb. If you have an off lease dog you may encounter people who don’t like it. All three summits were crowded and some bottlenecking on the way down.

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
1 day ago

Beautiful hike with amazing views! The trail was super busy though and for part of it we were stuck shoulder to shoulder. Once we got to the first peak things cleared out and it was beautiful conditions and scenery.

Took the old bridle trail up and falling waters down. There was a little snow on the top of falling waters trail but it’s easily doable without microspikes. The stream crossings weren’t bad either. The views were great. Definitely one of the best hikes in the whites and more moderate than I anticipated

3 days ago

awesome hike. 6.5h some snow but not impossible with hiking shoes.

hiking
4 days ago

Great hike this time of year - Old Bridle was easy to ascend despite some snow and slush before the Hut. Descending Falling Waters first mile was a lot easier with microspikes (but nonetheless not easy) and hiking poles though with patience is doable without either for people who are comfortable with very “athletic” hiking.

hiking
rocky
snow
4 days ago

hiking
muddy
snow
5 days ago

Started the trail around 8 AM, the Wednesday before Memorial Day, making the loop counterclockwise (Falling Waters -> Franconia Ridge -> Greenleaf -> Bridle Path). North- and southbound parking lots were mostly empty. 45 F, damp, and a bit windy after intermittent showers the night before. Spring storms the previous night had swelled the first two stream crossings into freshets, so I had to remove shoes and socks and ford the brook in order to cross safely. The rest of the hike up to Cloudland Falls was a bit muddy but otherwise easy going. Not much traffic on the ascent (I met two people on their way down, and passed four). Some patches of deep snow near the Little Haystack ridgeline, but I was able to get by with regular sneakers/stepping carefully. Talked with a fellow near the summit whose wife had caught hypothermia and been medevacked by helicopter off the summit two days before. He'd returned that morning to retrieve his gear. Icy winds at the top, especially along the 'knife edge' between Haystack and Lincoln. Ice was melting, but still covering the signs and cairns, the krummholz forests, and the meadows. Saw a few peregrine falcons and ravens riding the updraft above Lincoln. Dark-eyed juncos foraging everywhere through the rocks and grass, unafraid of hikers, and sometimes lighting directly in front of you. Passed dozens of people coming up along the Bridle Path on my way down. Except for a few places just below the treeline on Lafayette, and around Greenleaf Hut, the snow on this trail was a lot better than it was on Falling Waters. Weather started to heat up pretty quickly, and by the time I got back to the parking lot (which was full to capacity), just past noon, it was around 65 F.

hiking
rocky
snow
6 days ago

Absolutely breathtaking!! I did not do the entire hike due to a little too much snow, I was not as prepared. I will be back soon.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
6 days ago

We hiked this entire loop with our three boys, 9, 6, and 3 yo. It was slow moving with all of them but! We did it! Only took us 8.5 hrs through snow. Ha! Water crossings on the falls trail side were very full.

6 days ago

Great hike, even when it's not nice outside (like today). I recommend climbing by falling waters trail.

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
7 days ago

Good hike. Difficult but not impossible if you’re prepared. Some snow in some spots, but you can make it without spikes. Took about 8 hours. Windy and cold at the top so bring some layers.

hiking
blowdown
rocky
snow
8 days ago

hiking
rocky
snow
14 days ago

Went up and down on Old Bridal Trail, stayed away from Falling Waters Trail since a lot of hikers we met coming down the mountain said there's still a lot of ice on that trail. We didn't need spikes/ crampons but we still did encounter snow on Old Bridal but nothing alarming, even though it will slow you down a little and it was slippery. We didn't encounter any ice really either. There was some mud, but again, nothing to worry about, it was just in small patches.

hiking
blowdown
14 days ago

Great hike. Took about 8 hours. Very windy above tree line. Recommend layering

Great first serious hike of the season! Lots of snowy sections but was still manageable without spikes. Very cold and windy at the top, I would definitely recommend layers!!

hiking
15 days ago

Between the waterfalls and the ridge it was easy to rate this a 5 star...awesome! I did this hike during the summer. Check out my write up along with some other things to look out for. eastcoasthiker.com/trails/lafayette

hiking
muddy
snow
16 days ago

A wonderful first hike of the year.. We went up the Falling Waters trail to Little Haystack and then across the ridge to Mt. Lafayette and then back down the Greenleaf hut trail and the old bridle path trail. It had rained just prior to our arrival, and crossing the water required finding make shift trekking poles out of fallen branches. We made better progress with microspikes for the slightly snowy sections. Coming down from Mt Lafayette was slightly precarious as many of the footings had a thin coating of ice. It was foggy on the ridge, but we had breathtaking panoramic views of the ridge when we were going down the old bridle path trail.

Almost died, oops

17 days ago

spectacular view

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
washed out
28 days ago

Afternoon sun caused a lot of melt. Very muddy. Great time, aside

Can’t choose the weather and we got heavy rain to start and snow above 2000 feet. Up and back on the Old Bridal Trail. Wet gear and freezing temperatures at the Greenleaf hut pushed the summit to another day. The trail was a mess. A river to start and a thin packed snow ribbon to navigate after. Any steps off the thin ribbon of snow would post hole. Microspikes were enough, crampons were not necessary. Dry Brook River was high and racing. No way to cross falling waters trail safely.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
over grown
rocky
30 days ago

Would be a good hike on a nice day. Only made it half way before I had to turn around. A lot of trees down and a LOT of mud.

hiking
bridge out
snow
washed out
1 month ago

Stunning views. Very difficult with the waist deep snow, spikes are a must. Started by going right up the falling waters trail which was a mistake. They require you to cross a pretty wide violent river but there no bridge or an way to cross so we hiked up the bush which kicked our energy. Eventually you’ll have to find a point to cross the river and it’s likely you’ll get pretty wet. Go up the left side of the loop and down the falling river trail!!

hiking
1 month ago

I barely made it to the summit with the crazy winds, but the views were spectacular up there. For anyone considering, crampons are a must--the trail is completely snow-covered still and icy in parts. Will try to return in the summer for the full loop.

This time a year don’t bring snowshoes but don’t come without microspikes!!! Amazing views on and off due to the fog and mist. Challenging loop but worth going. We started up the Bridle Trail to the hut and from Lafayette we proceeded AT and at Little Haystack we took a turn to the Blue Trail ( then Falling Waters Trail ). Going down the Blue I was thinking that the Bridle is better for ascend than the Blue but I may be wrong. Blue seems to be much steeper which would be a much greater challenge for ascend. This route is the best if you want to kill tree summits in one run!!

hiking
1 month ago

Favorite hike in the whites. Great views, great trail, great workout.

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