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Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop

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White Mountain National Forest

Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Lincoln, New Hampshire that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 8.6 mi Elevation gain 3,822 ft Route type Loop
Dog friendly Hiking Mountain biking Snowshoeing Forest River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Bugs Rocky Scramble
Description
Waypoints (11)
Contact
Tips
Getting There

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. As a bonus you will ascend three peaks, including the highest mountain outside the Presidential Range - Mount Lafayette.

USFS Pemigewasset Ranger Station, Plymouth, (603)536-1310

As always, bring good footgear, rain clothes, and extra clothes. This is a long and strenuous hike, so make sure to bring plenty of food and water.

Park at the Lafayette Place parking area. Trailhead is on east side of road and is well marked.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (3881)
Photos (6023)
Recordings (2734)
Completed (7792)
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Kevin Johnson
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Matt Legere
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Joseph Montgomery
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Hiking

Gorgeous hike. Definitely a top favorite.

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Marisa Ragonesi
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HikingGreat!

Absolutely fantastic hike! Easily my favorite strenuous trail. I recommend hiking on a dry day as there is a lot of rock scrambles. Also, I went up Falling Waters trail and down Bridal Trail. If I did the trail again I would choose the same way, especially on days it’s not so dry. Hiking down Falling Waters would of been tough with wet rock. Also, keep note there is loose rock on the Bridal trail as you approach Mt Lafayette summit. And please pack & be prepared!! Came across many hikers without the right clothing. Pack layers!!! The top of the mountain and ridge creates a different type of weather!! (It’s windy and colder!!) Helpful gear tip: bring poles, your knees will thank you.

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Anthony Osowski
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HikingGreat!
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Emma Gaffney
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HikingGreat!

This hike is not for the faint of heart. I did this hike with my boyfriend. We are 23 and pretty experienced hikers, but I wouldn’t say my cardio is at its greatest, so it took us 8 hours to complete. We took falling waters up, and bridle path down, which I would 100% recommend to anyone doing this hike. The first mile and a half is moderate, and then it’s extreme elevation gain. The way up honestly wasn’t as bad as I expected though with a couple stops to catch our breath. The views from up too make up for any difficulties throughout the hike. It was breathtaking. Walking along the ridge is something I’ll never forget! But don’t be fooled that the hard part is over, the way down took more of a toll on my body than any other part of the hike. It’s super steep for the first 2 miles down but trekking polls made it a lot better. Pack lots of snacks and water and take time to enjoy the views from up top! I saw many people that didn’t seem that prepared enough— definitely bring a base layer and also a warmer jacket for the summit, gloves would be helpful too if it’s going to be windy up top!

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Nick Boisvert
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Toughest trail yet. I’m exhausted but I feel accomplished.

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Michelle Williams
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HikingGreat!

Absolutely one of the most beautiful hikes in the White Mountains. My 4th time and never enough!

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Laura Gust
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HikingRocky

This is one of my favorite hikes that I look forward to every year. This hike has it all: waterfalls, coniferous forests, and 360 degree Mountain views for 2 miles along the ridge at the top! I took the trail counter-clockwise, starting at Falling Waters (as it seems most people do)— a decision that your knees may thank you for on the way down (the last mile and a half is pretty low impact). It’s usually pretty windy on the ridge, so bring a windbreaker and hat along. I have one plea— When you’re on the ridge, please do not step on the beautiful alpine vegetation. I saw one person tromping on the slow-growing alpine vegetation today and I nearly screamed out loud (would have been wasted on a person too far away) While unfortunate, most people respect the wildlife. Rant aside, I would describe the hike as sublime! Just bring extra food & water and expect to work your glutes out on the way up!

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Shlomo Siegelman
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Hiking

Excellent trail! Don't be discouraged by people saying how scary the ridge is - if you aren't put off by the length/elevation gain then you're probably fine. Walking path on ridge was wider than it looks like and I never really felt exposed to the edges of the ridge. Almost got scared off by the ridge and stopped at little haystack but I would've seriously regretted not going to Lincoln and Lafayette.

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Delaina Carlson
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Liane Alisa
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Hiking

Great 360 views at the top. Definitely look at weather and do it when there’s no wind. Very challenging, would not recommend for those who don’t have in-shape hiking legs!

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Tiffany Morytko
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Hiking

Wow. What a hike! Amazing views and absolutely worth the climb but do some research before you ascend. We went up Falling Waters trail to Little Haystack mountain then made the trip around to Mt Lafayette and down Old Bridle path. Definitely the way to go. Old Bridle path is extremely steep and tough on the feet so be sure to wear hiking shoes. Sneakers may result in some rolled ankles. Pack lots of food and water. Most of all, be sure to take your time to enjoy all this trail has to offer!

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Natalie M
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amazing! totally worth it! I'm not the most in shape so it took us about 8 hours

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David Enos
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Hiking

we got the summit weather report and decided that we did not have the gear to complete the loop. so we decided to just take the falling waters trail to haystack and see what the conditions were like. it was windy but not as bad as the forecast and the sun was shinning so we crossed the ridge. best hike I have ever been on. once were above the treeline and could see our goals the trail was truly beckoning. the views cannot be over expressed. many say to take this route to avoid descending falling waters. much of greenleaf and some of bridal path are just as bad, but the views and greenleaf shelter on the way down are so rewarding after the tree lined ascent of the second half of falling waters. this path leaves no anticlimax

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Kelsey MacDonald
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Hiking

Beautiful hike! Very clear trail. Be sure to pack your layers, it was quite windy on the ridge. phone died part way through, so this is only half of the loop we did.

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Elijah Garrison
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HikingGreat!

Unbelievably awesome! Falling waters trail offers great waterfalls and some steep climbs, pretty quick to Haystack summit. From there you have incredible panorama views that only improve as you walk the ridge and summit Lincoln. Make sure to pause there for some private contemplation as the other two peaks are busier. Lafayette being the highest and gets a lot of out and back traffic via the Bridle Path. Greenleaf Hut is definitely nice to have there! Hike was awesome, losing my key on the trail not so much, but someone found it and returned it!!! Great day hike, I did it in 5.5 hours comfortably.

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Alanah Douaihi
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Mim Knowlton
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megha nagabhushan
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Rocky

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Doug Quist
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Camille F
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Great hike today, loved going in the clockwise direction today. Great views the whole way up were very recharging. Falling waters down is fine with trekking poles, I would be concerned without them. Also at first light on Lafayette we recommend using a hat with sunglasses combo, the sun is relentless at that angle in the morning!

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Jamie Conley
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HikingGreat!
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Sam Bodkin
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Amazing!

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nick daniel
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HikingGreat!

Best to ascend Falling Waters Trail and descend Old Bridle, to take the steep scrambling on the way up. Alternatively, the waterfalls would have been nice to dip in on the way down. The views were great from the ridge, about 6 hours for the loop, including 30min on Lafayette summit

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Devon Martin
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Sneha Chitturi
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Great trail and has amazing views at the top.

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Rach L.
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HikingBridge outBugsGreat!MuddyRockyScramble

This was an excellent hike! We made our way up the Old Bridle Path at a good speed. You start getting good views when you start the trek up Agony Ridge, which is a challenging and fun scramble-filled area. We refilled our water bottles at the Greenleaf Hut. Franconia ridge was awesome, with breathtaking 360 degree views.

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