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View Full Version : Opinions on Franconia day hikes



VeganHiker
07-18-2014, 03:27 PM
I need to finish planning the hiking details for the time I'll be in the Whites near Franconia Notch next month. I'll have 3 full days of hiking and I know I'll be doing the Franconia Ridge Loop (the 8.9 miles Little Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette version). Can anyone whose done the following hikes give me their opinions on the following options for my other 2 days...

I'm considering:
the 8 mile out and back to Mt Liberty on the Liberty Springs trail
the 7.4 mile loop to Mt Moosilauke (Gorge Brook to summit, carriage rd and snapper trail back)
the 4.5 mile Dickey Welch loop or the 3 mile Mt Pemi if we're really pooped from Franconia Ridge and need an easy day
I know Mt Garfield and Mt Hancock are also nearby

We're not peakbaggers or gluttons for punishment, we care mostly about scenery but are willing to put the miles and climbing to find it. If you could only choose two from the above list which would you suggest for scenery. A lot of it will depend on how much gas we have left in the tank at the time, but I'd like to have a somewhat rank ordered preference going in. Another consideration is I hike with my dog, are any of the above not dog friendly.

All help will be appreciated!

Mohamed Ellozy
07-18-2014, 04:32 PM
Mt Liberty has basically the same views as Franconia Ridge, so I would choose Moosilauke for the other "big" hike,

Again, for the "small" hike, Mt Pemi is very close to Franconia Notch (though it has very different views to the south) so Dickey-Welch might make sense.

bikehikeskifish
07-18-2014, 06:20 PM
FWIW, my dog had trouble on Welch Dickey with his paws (pads) getting abraded because so much of it was ledge, and he likes to scout ahead and come running back. The braking is probably what did him in. He's not had any problems with any of the 10 4Ks he's done.

Tim

summitseeker
07-18-2014, 08:39 PM
Hello Veganhiker, welcome aboard.

I personally feel that Garfield has a spectacular view that does not require a lot of "punishment" as you put it. Yes, it is a longer hike but you will have views of Franconia Ridge, Galehead, The Twins, and Owl's Head (if my memory serves me correctly).

Moosilauke is great for a western perspective view of Franconia Ridge and the summit is very large and expansive. Your other options are all great, too. In my opinion Moosilauke via the Gorge Brook Trail has a fat greater pay off than Welch-Dickey (which isn't extremely easy and can be very slippery on a wet day).

Enjoy your time here in the Whites,

http://i.imgur.com/yLDlj2F.jpg

Here is a pic of the view from South Twin. Garfield is the smaller peak to the right to give you a sense of where you would be in relation to Franconia Ridge and The Twins.

Z :D

nartreb
07-18-2014, 09:42 PM
I agree that a liberty spring out-and-back is the least interesting option, with the possible exception of the Hancocks. Liberty is a rather dull trail and it's in the trees until the summit, which has views like Little Haystack only from lower. You can make it slightly more interesting by adding an out-and-back to Mt Flume, or a lot more interesting by going up the Flume Slide Trail in the first place (I don't recommend descending it), but I think I'd rather go visit Moosilauke. (I've seen plenty of dogs on the flume slide trail, it's the humans who tend to get nervous.)

The trail up Hancock is not boring (steep and eroded, often with epic mud pits too) but the views are much more limited than the other options you're considering. If you want views in that area of the Whites, it's well worth the drive to go hike Mt Carrigain instead.

VeganHiker
07-18-2014, 11:33 PM
Wow, thanks for all the helpful responses everyone. So I'm effectively crossing the Hancock and Liberty off my list. I'm also putting Moosilauke down as a definite. I had initially left Signal Ridge to Carrigain off my list because it's a little bit further of a drive and the idea of a summit below tree line with an unnatural fire tower didn't sound too enticing. But now that nartreb recommended it, I read a few trail reports and it sounds like it has many great views along the ridge in addition to the tower at the summit, so it's back in the running for my last hike, along with Garfield, and Dickey Welch or Pemi as my "out of gas" bailout options.

Scubahhh
07-19-2014, 04:51 AM
Moosilauke's a great choice, and there are two routes you might find more interesting than Gorge Brook. One is from the Lodge, going up via Asquam Ridge Trail and then down the Carriage Road. My favorite is up the AT from Glencliff, then down the Benton Trail and back through Tunnel Brook.

But having said that, let me throw another log on the fire: the Presidentials- either north or south. Less travel time than Signal Ridge, less than 1/2 hour from Franconia to Highland Cyr., for example, and some really nice walks and views...

Come to think of it, you'd better just extend your trip and stay for a month or so!

sierra
07-19-2014, 05:24 AM
I have two suggestions. First, I would consider the Beaver brook trail when doing the Moose. The first mile has some beautifull cascades and while this section is also steep it is also fun. Once past the steep section the trail moderates quite nicely. My second suggestion for a "Big" hike is the Kinsman's form the west side via the Mt. Kinsman trail. This hike will get you two summits if you choose to go to South Kinman ( which I would as its easy). Not only that on your descent there is a side trail to Bald mtn, which has fantastic views for a small effort.

jniehof
07-19-2014, 07:26 AM
For a short (short!) option, I really do like just going up to Lonesome Lake, and the view of the Franconias is wonderful. Do it the day after the Falling Water/Old Bridle Path loop if you're pooped. Do consider Greenleaf coming down from the hut, you can close the loop on the bike path fine. I think it's seriously underrated, although the last bit when you're close to the highway but not coming out yet can drag a little. The Flume/Basin/etc. loop is also worth the couple of bucks for the short little wander; my girlfriend and I did it on a pouring-down day which kept the crowds away and the water flowing awesome.

Mohamed Ellozy
07-19-2014, 09:15 AM
... the Falling Water/Old Bridle Path loop if you're pooped. Do consider Greenleaf coming down from the hut, you can close the loop on the bike path fine. I think it's seriously underrated, although the last bit when you're close to the highway but not coming out yet can drag a little.

Just a reminder for those familiar with the area (not suggesting it for the OP): the lower section of the Greenleaf Trail, which parallels the highway, is a drag and can be avoided by "bushwhacking" from/to the Old Man Viewing parking, the original route of the trail. Described it in Mount Lafayette, June 4, 2010 (http://retiredinnh.blogspot.com/2010/06/mount-lafayette-june-4-2010.html).

Scubahhh
07-19-2014, 12:32 PM
...or you could stage a bike or car at the Kinsman trailhead, and all over South and North Kinsman via Reel Brook and the AT. The section from Eliza Brook shelter to South Kinsman is beautiful... and challenging!

Mike P.
07-20-2014, 06:10 AM
My .02, Moose & Lonesome Lake.

Next year, Garfield, Eisenhower and Pierce with Middle Sugarloaf as the easy day.....

DayTrip
07-20-2014, 07:43 AM
Wow, thanks for all the helpful responses everyone. So I'm effectively crossing the Hancock and Liberty off my list. I'm also putting Moosilauke down as a definite. I had initially left Signal Ridge to Carrigain off my list because it's a little bit further of a drive and the idea of a summit below tree line with an unnatural fire tower didn't sound too enticing. But now that nartreb recommended it, I read a few trail reports and it sounds like it has many great views along the ridge in addition to the tower at the summit, so it's back in the running for my last hike, along with Garfield, and Dickey Welch or Pemi as my "out of gas" bailout options.

I'm in the minority on this but I think Carrigain is a very overrated peak. The Signal Ridge is quite nice but it's 1/4 mile or so of a 5 mile walk that in my opinion is pretty boring. I think Carrigain is a majestic mountain to be looked at from other peaks, not so much when you're on it. I'd do a lot of other hikes over this one, especially for the driving time in your circumstances. Moosilauke is a WAY BETTER hike for the driving time.

To Scubahhh's point, there are also numerous great short hikes in the Southern Presidentials that have a shorter drive for you and much more bang for the mileage (Eisenhower via Edmands Path, Jackson, Pierce - and you can do some or all of these on various loops that aren't super long or strenuous).

VeganHiker
07-20-2014, 05:34 PM
Hmm.. I'll look more into Lonesome Lake and Eisenhower. Not looking to do a car shuttle since we'll be on vacation and will only have 1 car. This convo is really helpful, luckily I have about 3 more weeks to finish up my planning.

summitseeker
07-20-2014, 09:47 PM
Hello again Veganhiker,

You certainly have a lot of suggestions and ideas to ponder. For what it is worth, I would not do Eisenhower on its own if you are planning on bagging all 48 NH 4000 footers. The Crawford Path is a historic and relatively gentle way up to Pierce and from there Eisenhower is practically a breeze.

There are a lot of good options to consider that fit your criteria but it sounds like Moosilauke may be one of them. If so, I personally would pick that ascent first and save your legs for one of the other, more ambitious hikes the following day/days. The Gorge Brook Trail is still my top pick for an ascent route but there are many other options for a descent.

Good Luck,

Z :D

Quietman
07-21-2014, 08:40 AM
My second suggestion for a "Big" hike is the Kinsman's form the west side via the Mt. Kinsman trail. This hike will get you two summits if you choose to go to South Kinman ( which I would as its easy). Not only that on your descent there is a side trail to Bald mtn, which has fantastic views for a small effort.

I was also going to suggest this. On a nice day, you get great views from Bald and Kinsman.

WhiteMTHike
07-28-2014, 09:06 AM
I always liked Welch-Dickey but won't do it any more because it is just way too popular. The last time I was there I literally had to wait in line at a few spots on the trail. I felt more like I was at a shopping mall riding the escalator rather than a hiking trail. It just kind of defeated the purpose of hiking.

If you are looking for a good hike that won't take you all day but will provide some great views consider Potash on the Kanc. It's not as popular as Welch-Dickey so it does not get too over crowded. The summit provides great views from the ledges and crossing the Downes Brook is actually fun if you are going in the summer. Overall, a nice hike that will only take a couple of hours.

VeganHiker
08-06-2014, 02:15 PM
Well I'm about a week and a half out from my trip and pretty much decided on doing the following:

Franconia Ridge - The common Falling Waters, AT, Old Bridle loop
Mount Moosilauke - Gorge Brook to Summit, Carriage Rd to Snapper to Gorge Brook return
Mount Eisenhower - Edmands Path,
If we run out of gas and need an easy hike our last day we'll do Mt. Willard instead of Eisenhower.

So many hikes, so little time. Thanks everyone for your help.

peakbagger
08-06-2014, 02:53 PM
For what its worth seriously consider Old Bridle Path up and Falling Waters Down. This allows you to carry minimal water up to Greenleaf hut and tank up there, then do the ridge and when its hot in the afternoon you are right near the falls on falling waters. The lighting on Falling Waters is far nicer in the afternoon and going down Old Bridal path in the afternoon is hot dry walk. Far nicer the other way around. Other will differ on this but that's my two cents!

thegibba
08-06-2014, 08:53 PM
For kicks. If you are really out of gas. Hit up Arethusa falls at the far lower end of Crawford notch.. About 1k elevation gain. And easy footing. If its hot out, you can dunk your feet. Its not a peak but a well worth the destination with easy an easy going trail through attractive woods.

Driver8
08-07-2014, 07:04 PM
Well I'm about a week and a half out from my trip and pretty much decided on doing the following:

Franconia Ridge - The common Falling Waters, AT, Old Bridle loop
Mount Moosilauke - Gorge Brook to Summit, Carriage Rd to Snapper to Gorge Brook return
Mount Eisenhower - Edmands Path,
If we run out of gas and need an easy hike our last day we'll do Mt. Willard instead of Eisenhower.

So many hikes, so little time. Thanks everyone for your help.

Personally, I think you might be able to consider the standard east side Moosilauke route as your "easy" day. Only about 2500' elevation gain. It's a gorgeous peak - this was my first 4K summit. Be sure, if you get any kind of view day, to tag the South Peak. It has outstanding views of the summit and the east ridge, with Mt. Washington just peaking around the end of the ridge, and of Tunnel Brook Ravine and its many Beaver Ponds, with Mt. Clough rising sharply on its other side. A must quick stop-by on a nice day - the spur trail is about two steps southbound on the A.T./Glencliff Trail from the Carriage Road split, heading more or less due south where the A.T runs SW and the Carriage Road SE.

As for Eisenhower, Edmands, once above 4K, is a gorgeous trail, and before that is well constructed and relatively less rough than most other trails ascending the Presi's steeply from the valleys below. Key point on Ike, do yourself a favor, again if on a day with any kind of views, and do a lollipop hike of Ike - continue past the summit on the loop and then catch the A.T./Crawford Path back to the Edmands. IMO, the views from Ike's shoulders, both north and south, on the Loop Trail provide among the best angles and sight lines I've experienced in the Whites. Just outstandingly pretty. The half mile stretch of the Crawford is fairly rough, but manageable, and gives a neat set of perspectives on Eisenhower's summit dome.

I highly commend to you one of my favorite books if you've not yet gotten it: Steve Smith and Mike Dickerman's The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains. It gives all kinds of history, geology, geography and detailed summaries for most major trail approaches, plus detailed reckonings of the peaks' summit views. Fantastic book which will leave you very well briefed on your hikes - goes well with the AMC White Mtn Guide, which Smith and Dickerman also edit. Also, Steve has a beloved book and map shop on the Kanc highway in Lincoln, right next to the Irving Station, called the Mountain Wanderer. You can't ask for a better combination of pleasant company and compendious knowledge of the Whites. Stop in and pay him a visit if at all possible. He also has a good blog at mountainwandering.blogspot.com.

VeganHiker
08-08-2014, 12:51 PM
Personally, I think you might be able to consider the standard east side Moosilauke route as your "easy" day. Only about 2500' elevation gain. It's a gorgeous peak - this was my first 4K summit. Be sure, if you get any kind of view day, to tag the South Peak. It has outstanding views of the summit and the east ridge, with Mt. Washington just peaking around the end of the ridge, and of Tunnel Brook Ravine and its many Beaver Ponds, with Mt. Clough rising sharply on its other side. A must quick stop-by on a nice day - the spur trail is about two steps southbound on the A.T./Glencliff Trail from the Carriage Road split, heading more or less due south where the A.T runs SW and the Carriage Road SE.

As for Eisenhower, Edmands, once above 4K, is a gorgeous trail, and before that is well constructed and relatively less rough than most other trails ascending the Presi's steeply from the valleys below. Key point on Ike, do yourself a favor, again if on a day with any kind of views, and do a lollipop hike of Ike - continue past the summit on the loop and then catch the A.T./Crawford Path back to the Edmands. IMO, the views from Ike's shoulders, both north and south, on the Loop Trail provide among the best angles and sight lines I've experienced in the Whites. Just outstandingly pretty. The half mile stretch of the Crawford is fairly rough, but manageable, and gives a neat set of perspectives on Eisenhower's summit dome.

I highly commend to you one of my favorite books if you've not yet gotten it: Steve Smith and Mike Dickerman's The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains. It gives all kinds of history, geology, geography and detailed summaries for most major trail approaches, plus detailed reckonings of the peaks' summit views. Fantastic book which will leave you very well briefed on your hikes - goes well with the AMC White Mtn Guide, which Smith and Dickerman also edit. Also, Steve has a beloved book and map shop on the Kanc highway in Lincoln, right next to the Irving Station, called the Mountain Wanderer. You can't ask for a better combination of pleasant company and compendious knowledge of the Whites. Stop in and pay him a visit if at all possible. He also has a good blog at mountainwandering.blogspot.com.

Thanks for the input Driver8. For some reason I thought that taking the Carriage Rd to Snapper on the descent from Moosilauke would bring me to the South Peak summit. I didn't know there was a separate out and back spur trail for it. Good to know I'll have to get on the AT for a few feet to see it (otherwise I'd miss it). Very helpful. How much in the way of distance and elevation does the spur trail add?

I have the AMC and Falcon books on the Whites but not the Smith book. I'll have to pick up a copy. Might be nice to visit his shop too if I have time, I recall Tom Ryan talking about Steve Smith and his shop in Following Atticus. It's always cool when the stories in your head that came from reading intersect with real life.

Also, do you know off the top of your head how much distance is added by doing the little Eisenhower lollipop at the top rather than just out and back to the summit?

Thanks,
John

Driver8
08-09-2014, 03:03 AM
Thanks for the input Driver8. For some reason I thought that taking the Carriage Rd to Snapper on the descent from Moosilauke would bring me to the South Peak summit. I didn't know there was a separate out and back spur trail for it. Good to know I'll have to get on the AT for a few feet to see it (otherwise I'd miss it). Very helpful. How much in the way of distance and elevation does the spur trail add?

I have the AMC and Falcon books on the Whites but not the Smith book. I'll have to pick up a copy. Might be nice to visit his shop too if I have time, I recall Tom Ryan talking about Steve Smith and his shop in Following Atticus. It's always cool when the stories in your head that came from reading intersect with real life.

Also, do you know off the top of your head how much distance is added by doing the little Eisenhower lollipop at the top rather than just out and back to the summit?

Thanks,
John

This is off the top of my head, but doing the Ike lollipop option adds maybe .7 to your trip, with 50 to 100 feet of negligible, easy elevation gain and loss. And re: Moosilauke, you'll be on the AT once you hit the summit for the next mile or so to the point where the Carriage Road and the Glencliff Trail split, near the South Peak. The side trip adds about .4 round-trip with maybe 100 feet of elevation gain, if that. Gorgeous hiking there. hope you enjoy it!

Bob Kittredge
08-09-2014, 02:26 PM
I was doing the Franc Loop once and met a woman coming the other way with a little Yorkie. I asked if she had to carry him at all, and she replied "only on water crossings".

On the other hand, I know of a case where a black lab had to be carried down off Lafayette because his pads were cut up and he was dehydrated. Can we assume your dog is not a "tenderfoot", and that you know enough to carry water for him?

shamples
08-09-2014, 03:44 PM
I would agree with the Lafayette Loop and Moosilauke.

On the last day, I will give you another option to consider if you opt out of another 4,000 foot peak in Eisenhower. Sure Willard is nice, but its short. If you want something easier, but with a bit more length, consider the gem walk in to Zealand Falls and the hut. It's a great scenic walk and a great trail with boardwalks and one of the better chances at a moose sighting. Something like 2.5 miles to the hut and its a pretty easy walk. And if you get to the falls and hut and need that view, it's a 1.3 mile climb up to Zeacliff which is absolutely excellent. This isn't a peak, but def one of my favorite hikes in the Whites and would be a good option to end your trip after already being up on the great peaks of Lafayette, Lincoln, Little Haystack and Moosilauke. Just my 2 cents if looking for something different in your White Mountains tour.

Have fun and enjoy!

VeganHiker
08-10-2014, 12:56 AM
Thanks again Driver8.

Bob, yes he's an experienced hiking dog. He's got calloused paw pads from years of hiking, his regular food gets cut with puppy food (extra calories) on hiking days and the night before, gets enough water, etc. He is most likely only doing Moosilauke and Eisenhower and staying with the sitter for the Franconia hike though. I'm sure that he can do it but I feel 3 days straight would be pushing him a bit harder than I feel comfortable with.

Shamples, thanks I'll look into that.. Sounds like a better last day bailout option than Willard.

Driver8
08-11-2014, 07:54 AM
On the last day, I will give you another option to consider if you opt out of another 4,000 foot peak in Eisenhower. Sure Willard is nice, but its short. If you want something easier, but with a bit more length, consider the gem walk in to Zealand Falls and the hut. It's a great scenic walk and a great trail with boardwalks and one of the better chances at a moose sighting. Something like 2.5 miles to the hut and its a pretty easy walk. And if you get to the falls and hut and need that view, it's a 1.3 mile climb up to Zeacliff which is absolutely excellent. This isn't a peak, but def one of my favorite hikes in the Whites ...

Zeacliffs is beautiful and the Z falls are great, esp if shortly after a good rain. I loved the ponds as well. Nice thing about this hike, too, is that if you get to Zeacliffs and your legs are still feeling strong, you can head a couple miles west and bag Zealand, which is no great shakes itself, but the first half of that part of the hike is quite nice, with some good scrambling on a secondary peak and, if you like, a short side trip to Zeacliff Pond. Also, the views from the secondary summits near Zeacliffs are nice, both locally (pretty alpine flora) and far - good views of the Twins, Bonds and Willeys, Carrigain and Hancock at different spots. If you decide to turn back from Zeacliffs, I encourage you to take an extra 10-20 minutes to poke around along the A.T. just past the overlook and take in some other views.

VeganHiker
08-26-2014, 10:31 AM
Thanks again to everyone for their advice.

On our first day, we did the Lafayette Loop on Franconia Ridge and had beautiful clear skies. The next day my wife needed a bit of a break because she didn't bring her trekking poles on the Lafayette loop and had some bruising on her toes (from the descent). So on our second day we took an easy day and did two easy hikes: Arethusa Falls before lunch, then Mount Willard after lunch. It was a nice easy day and we were resting up to do Moosilauke on our third day. However, the next morning there were 60% chance of thunderstorms and the radar didn't look promising so we made the tough decision to head home a day early. It was a shame the weather turned because we were pumped for Moosilauke. However, we plan on heading back for just an overnighter to do Moosilauke in a month after I get back from a hiking trip to Utah.

Thanks all!!

Mike P.
08-27-2014, 11:34 AM
Glad you had a great trip.

Driver8
08-27-2014, 08:45 PM
Thanks again to everyone for their advice.

On our first day, we did the Lafayette Loop on Franconia Ridge and had beautiful clear skies. The next day my wife needed a bit of a break because she didn't bring her trekking poles on the Lafayette loop and had some bruising on her toes (from the descent). So on our second day we took an easy day and did two easy hikes: Arethusa Falls before lunch, then Mount Willard after lunch. It was a nice easy day and we were resting up to do Moosilauke on our third day. However, the next morning there were 60% chance of thunderstorms and the radar didn't look promising so we made the tough decision to head home a day early. It was a shame the weather turned because we were pumped for Moosilauke. However, we plan on heading back for just an overnighter to do Moosilauke in a month after I get back from a hiking trip to Utah.

Thanks all!!

Congrats on a good visit, VH. Once you get a taste of the Whites, though they are rugged and much more difficult than most other northeast hiking, it's hard to stay away for long.

I just visited Osceola yesterday. I can recommend it as being a big mountain with a lot of rocks and a lot of character. Its western approach has gradual grades on the whole, which is not to say it's easy - super rocky most of the way, and the fact that one of its three miles is pretty flattish (first half-mile plus another half-mile mid-way) means that the rest has to make up for it. The views at the summit are outstanding. I'd rank its southeastern outlook as one of the most spectacular I've seen. Definitely one to consider for a future visit.