Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

HARD 1,024 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
3,805 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.

Very hard. If you think you’re not in shape enough, I would avoid. I’ve done numerous hikes in the Catskills and this was by far the hardest hike I’ve ever done. Beautiful views for miles when you get to the ridge, but you are still ascending on the ridge if you start with falling waters AND constantly in the sun if it’s a nice day. Wear a hat and sunscreen. On the way down we came across dog owners that had to carry their dog down- my advice would be if you’re questioning if your dog can do this hike, don’t bring the dog. The hut was pure relief, I ran out of water half way through the hike. They provide fresh drinking water, snacks etc. I feel very rewarded finishing this, something to look back on and be proud.

1 day ago

I’m tempted to downgrade this hike to 4 stars because of the endless throngs of hikers as we descended. The forest staff person counted 700 people ascending falling waters trail from 7 am to noon when we met him. As an unabashed peak bagger well into the 111 this was one my most favorite hiking days ever. It was slightly marred by our very slow descent bc of all of the hikers.
Blue bird sky, nice strenuous ascent up Bridle trail. The reward was incredible, with views on the way up, that’s a great treat. Leave early to get Lincoln and Lafayette before the masses. Little haystack is mobbed. Loved this hike.

2 days ago

Amazing trail, amazing views and amazing people. Looking forward to the next trip.

My favorite day hike to date. After just finishing 455 miles of the AT my trail legs were still fresh so I was able to cruise through the loop in 4.5 hours, but without my trail legs this hike would have been a real challenge.

3 days ago

Amazing. But I’m not in shape and felt like death after. Intense. Really intense.

4 days ago


4 days ago

I just looked this up because my teenage son is looking for a hike with friends and asked, "What is that family hike we have done like 100 times?" Forgot how to spell Lafayette. :)

Don't let "nerve wrecking" and "knife edge" scare you. This is nothing like a true knife edge. This is just hiking.

But it is mighty fine hiking. My favorite White Mountain hike. But go up Falling Waters as it is pretty steep for hiking down, especially if wet, and it is often wet. Go down Old Bridle Path.

Have fun!

6 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.

7 days ago

Challenging and quite epic along the Franconia Ridge.

7 days ago

Great Workout. Not an easy hike by any means, but the payoff with the views all along the ridgeline are amazing, and make it all worth it.

9 days ago

A quintessential northeast hike. Amazing views. One of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done.

Crap was hard. Almost died.

10 days ago

AMAZING views with clear skies! I went up Falling Waters trail which was very steep at times. You will be walking up boulders about 90% of the way almost immediately. I would suggest descending from this trail if you do not consider yourself “in shape” or an experienced hiker. I hadn’t done more than a six mile hike in two years and this trail kick my butt!! Brindle path and Greenleaf trail offered spectacular views most of the way down. Brindle path seemed a bit more level as well for a good mile towards the beginning of the trail. All together this trail took me 10 hours to complete with PLENTY of rest time in between. If you have time, stop at the hut on Greenleaf trail! They offer free water, restrooms, large tables to sit at, and board games galore!

11 days ago

This was a really awesome, rewarding hike. Three of us did it together and we are all upperclassmen in high school. We completed the hike in about 5 1/2 hours with multiple breaks going up falling water and down old bridle. Highly recommended!

12 days ago

up falling waters , down bridle. good lemonade at the hut

12 days ago

I love this trail. Make sure you check the weather at the top before going for it and be prepared to need a hat at the top because of the winds. Absolutely amazing views!

13 days ago

I ended up hiking up Liberty Springs trail and not Falling Waters, so I could easily bag Liberty as well as Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette. Stayed at Greenleaf Hut for two chill days. This trail is a DREAM. Try to get up there on a weekday. I was up Thursday, and had the ridge to myself which was GLORIOUS. So incredibly beautiful. Friday puttered around on Lafayette and just past it (not sure the name... going North of Lafayette Summit.) The range was MOBBED with people. So if you're looking for beauty AND more solitude, go up on the off season, or during the week. So much fun and very memorable. OBP on the descent had LOTS of gorgeous viewpoints.

14 days ago

Awesome hike. Strenuous but worth it. Experienced but slower hiker here, took me 8 hours round trip to do the loop including stops to enjoy the various summits. Steady incline up to the ridge, then you ascend and descend each of the three peaks until a finally steady but gradual descent past the hut back to the parking lot. I did Falling Waters up and Bridle down, which I recommend as bridal is a more gradual and Falling Waters steeper. My favorite hike in New Hampshire thus far.

14 days ago

It is incredibly busy.... almost two lanes of traffic on all legs of the trail. I went up bridle and down falling waters and may have been the good choice on a busy day. However - falling waters is relentless on the knees and never really levels out until the end. Going down there are a lot of trees/roots in the right or down side of trail for balance. Left side was for people going up. Poles were helpful.

Windy at top and required a jacket. I should have had gloves.

I went up early at 5:30 and people were already coming down who had gone up at 1:00 am to catch sunrise or were trail running.

It is incredible for the views in the ridge.

Hike - Saturday July 7 a beautiful day

16 days ago

We went up falling waters and down old bridle. Falling waters is a beautiful path with plenty of waterfalls, plus the bonus of the water keeping you cool. Old Bridle was just rock after rock. Suggest going up falling waters to enjoy the view on the way up. Walking the ridge is just glorious and every bit worth this hike. Finished in about 5 hours and 45minutes with 10-15 minute breaks at Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette. Highly recommend, it’s a great workout and worth every drop of sweat. Recommend to everyone want to battle for a beautiful view.

17 days ago

Definitely five stars for both views and difficulty. Took us 7 hours, with a few breaks. Amazing hike, even when it was hard it was so beautiful that it totally made it worth it. We started pretty early, so it was not too busy. However by the end there were quite a few groups. If you go, make sure to bring A LOT of water!

18 days ago

Hiked on July 3. Was very hot, all the sweat was well worth the views. Was a great hike!

18 days ago

Was a great hike. Beautiful views. Lots of rocks but this is NH. Kicked my butt.

19 days ago

Hiked the trail on July 2 with my grown kids (in their 20s). We're all generally fit but haven't hiked much recently. Took us 6 hours and 20 minutes with about 45 minutes of stops. We went up the Falling Waters trail and down Bridle Path, which is the best way. The trail down Bridle Path is generally less steep although it does have its steep sections, and much of the trail is wet and slippery. There really is no easy way. This is one of the most beautiful trail imaginable. There are many water falls along the Falling Waters, and some great look outs on Bridle Path, and the trail along the ridge is spectacular. There's little if any exposure to steep drops although you have to be careful almost every step. We stopped at the Greenleaf Hut for water and to take a break. We each started with about 64 ounces of water which was not enough. Temperature was in the 80s at the bottom of the mountain and in the 60s on top of the ridge

20 days ago

Wonderful views. The only hard part was getting up to the ridge, the actual ridge hike was wonderful. Highly recommend ! One of my favorites in NH

20 days ago

Mid 20s in shape and completed in roughly 4 1/2 hrs with some picture and water/snack breaks. Started at the trail head and headed up falling waters. Most of the terrain was dry besides areas close to the waterfall. The bugs weren’t too bad on the way up but coming down to the hut/old bridle had a lot more moisture which lead to more bugs. Was 85 and humid until you hit the tree line then a very refreshing breeze rewards you your hard work. I used roughly a gallon(3.87L) total but ymmv. The views were spectacular as always.

20 days ago

Certainly the best hike in the White Mountains I have done to date. We started our hike around 8:15AM, ascending up Falling Waters. It was fairly hot and humid at the trailhead, but waterfalls made for some nice cool spots along the way. Aside from a few steep stretches, we found the ascent to Little Haystack pretty manageable. Hiking along the ridge provided some magnificent views. My 4.5 year old retriever seemed to have no issues, and met many other 4 legged friends along the way. After a short lunch on top of Lafayette we started our descent down Old Bridle path. We stopped at Greenleaf hut to refill the water and made our way down to the trailhead. The descent had a fair amount of moisture and loose rocks which made it difficult at times. Aside from a short 15 min detour after taking the Greenleaf trail north, we got back on Old Bridle and made it back to the parking lot at 2:30pm. Overall hike time of 6 hours 15 min. Highly recommneded!

22 days ago

We hiked this loop counter-clockwise (ascended on falling waters trail, descended on old bridle path). It was a very strenuous hike, but totally do-able by most average hikers if one is prepared. We brought in 2 liters of water each, sandwiches, and snacks (and ate/drank every last bit). We started 9am and finished 3:45pm. I’d recommend starting even earlier than we did in order to beat the heat!

23 days ago

It took us 7 hours to do the loop. I recommend staying at the campground at the bottom of the mountain. Bring good shoes because there are a lot of rocks. Hiking poles recommended.

24 days ago

Best day hike in the east, no doubt.

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