Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

HARD 749 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.

8.5 miles
3805 feet

dog friendly



nature trips


trail running






wild flowers








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.

8 days ago

I did this today(MLK day) and it was amazing! The weather could not have been better and the winds were not that high at all plus I had the entire ridge to myself for most of the hike! The three challenging/dangerous parts are the river crossings on the fallings water trail, patchy ice on the ridge trail and some ice on the descent from Lafayette, otherwise, it was very easy and I only used microspikes and some trekking poles. The river crossings are possible, but you need to take your time following previous tracks to find a crossing, including one log walk/schooch. The ridge trail as of MLK day has almost zero snow and little ice, just some patches here and there which can be avoided or tackled with microspikes( you dont need them for the rest).


My first longer hike and the one that got me hooked. We hiked with our blue heeler/Hound and she did really well.

27 days ago

A tough hike but an excellent one. One of the best loops in NH.

1 month ago

Hiked this on 11/24/17. Beautiful hike and definitely worth it in winter IF you are prepared. If you hike in winter you will be exposed to very cold temperatures and very high winds. Dress appropriately.
-Crampons/Microspikes are absolutely necessary. The entire trail is snow/ice.
-Waterproof hiking boots are absolutely necessary.
-Hiking poles are recommended to aid in stability on the ice
-Bring 1.5+ liters of water per person
-You should be in good shape. This is 4k feet of climb over 9 miles.
-Try to pick a sunny day so you get the views from atop
You should always end a hike with extra water/food. If you were to get stuck out there you would need it.

That being said- this hike is well worth it and the views are amazing!

2 months ago

I was there 2 weeks ago, and it was an absolutely gorgeous hike. Moderately trafficked for it being so cold (10 degrees) but you warmed up fast hiking this loop. Now the trail was completely covered in snow. Which made it even more whimsical of an experience. However, we did not have crampons so there were some points of difficulty that we'd had to overcome...although we still made it so it's not the end of the world if you don't have them, but I highly suggest you bring them if you do, especially since it's probably more icey/snowy by now. Again, amazing hike! You feel so accomplished at the top, one of the most beautiful mountains to hike on the East in my opinion!

2 months ago

We did this hike past Sunday and it was beautiful, snow on the trail but as long as you have spikes you are fine so that you do not. Because they’re definitely is ice doesn’t take away from the beauty though. What a fun.hike ... we took our experienced hiking husky

2 months ago

By far the best views....went up falling waters trail. Challenging.

2 months ago

Not a bad hike for fit people.
I don't recommend it for not fit ... experience is irrelevant here because the trails are well seen and not that dangerous.This hike tests really your cardio, knees, nerves and strength .
Lafayette has the best views ever in NH you can tell and that is what different hikers I met in the mountain told me.
The only thing that holds me from keeping it 5 stars is that the some parts of the trail are blocked by fallen trees from last week storm.. so you have to go around it or over it and you are already tired.

Amazing experience , incredible views, waterfalls birds...
make sure to check the weather before you climb it. It my be frosty on October - November what makes some rocks slippery.
Took me 3.5 hrs up and 3 hrs Down from 8:00am till 3:30 pm almost , 2.5 liters water, 2 chocolate bars...
dogs friendly.
-bring water/food
- hiking sticks are must .
-good to have partner(s)
- Stick with trail.
-warm clothes in cold time.
This is not any hike,Was so exhausted after it .
Enjoy it and be safe.

2 months ago

The best hike I have done so far, icy at the top and some fallen trees, the views are amazing

2 months ago

Great hike with tremendous views at the top. We took the Falling Waters trail up and Bridle Path down. The trails were easy to follow despite a few fallen trees blocking the way. Will definitely do again!!!

trail running
2 months ago

beautiful trail run, up falling waters and down old bridle path. good fun with heavy wind, rain and hail on the summits and through the ridge traverse.

2 months ago

Between the waterfalls 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.

Completed on October 31, 2017

Fast moving brooks, with fallen trees on the trail, amazing views and an awesome time...

2 months ago

I hiked the loop on 10/31 and enjoyed it tremendously. The ascent was very challenging physically and my legs were burning at the top because the trail is steep most of the way up. Down was challenging too for the same reason. The ridge is fun and I never felt too exposed even in the high winds above the tree line. The storm Sunday evening knocked down dozens of trees so the trail was completely covered in some sections. I also smelled like Christmas which was nice. The views at the top are spectacular and I’m looking forward to doing the loop again in the spring.

2 months ago

Epic day up falling waters- down Bridlepath after the rain and the wind of the weekend numerous blow downs and detours around not only trees that are broken on the trail but ripped up roots and unstable ground. Took seven hours round-trip 20 minute lunch before three line because there were 30 to 40 mile an hour winds and snow squalls. ice above tree line very wet everywhere else. Some of the brook crossings on falling Waters are difficult without getting wet but the flow should subside by the end of the week

2 months ago

Beautiful day—cloudless and sunny. Wind gusts significant along ridge line. Took Bridle to Falling Waters, which was great because the majority of people were traveling the other way. Also loved finishing with the water falls. No real foliage left at this point. We started at 1030 and ended around 415.

2 months ago


3 months ago

Not a bad day hike - was my first actual hike (I'm pretty lazy but in decent shape thanks to occasional boxing and pilates classes - I'm on my feet frequently for work). Was strength training for the Inca Trail (pack weighed about 15lbs).

Took us 6h30 exactly with a good half hour break at the top for lunch, small breaks along the way up. Basically ran the way down thanks to wind on the front face. I think if you're game for a little work, this is easily doable and I'm still not convinced it's a hard hike (the day after and my legs still don't hurt nearly as much as after a boxing class). Admittedly going down Bridle Path was rough on the knees - can't see how you'd do that in rain or snow (too slippery). Thinking maybe it'd be better to go up Bridle Path (opportunity for a little rock climbing/scrambling and the wind would be at your back going up).

My phone said the total walk was closer to 9 miles, but maybe that's a glitch.

3 months ago

beautiful, well kept trail. Took me 8 hours to do the loop but I'm not an experienced hiker and I twisted my ankle a little on the way down.

3 months ago

This was a breathtaking hike that had outstanding views. The ridge was magnificent with 360 views. The weather was just right for this hike. There was a lot of people on the trail and the summits were packed. I will definitely do this hike again.

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