Killing Time in the Whites – Franconia Ridge Loop

Less than a week to go until we start the PCT, and I feel like there’s too much time! I’m finished with work, moved out of my apartment, and I don’t know what to do with myself. As someone who’s used to (and enjoys) being constantly busy, I’m not used to having so much time on my hands.

After moving out of my apartment and moving my bins of stuff into my parents’ house last week, I decided to take a trip up to NH for one more “winter” hike in the Whites. Last week’s weather was pretty crappy but when the forecast looked nice for Wednesday (warm, clear, low winds), we decided to take advantage of it and hike Franconia Ridge. It would also have been a great day for a Presidential Traverse, but since that would have required getting up really early we’re going to save that one for after the PCT.

After a leisurely morning, we were finally on-trail around 11 a.m. In the parking lot, a guy approached us and asked if we were familiar with the trail, but since he didn’t have snowshoes or spikes he decided not to hike. Even though it’s warm outside, it’s still winter in the Whites!

The Franconia Ridge loop is relatively short (8.6 miles) compared to other hikes in the Whites, but the first three miles up the Falling Waters Trail really kicked my butt. As we hiked, I wondered out loud how I did the 23.5-mile Bonds Traverse just a few weeks ago because I was really feeling it on Falling Waters. There were several water crossings along the way, but we managed to keep our feet mostly dry after searching for a strategic place to cross. 

After three tough miles, we reached the summit of Little Haystack, and the hard work was pretty much done as we walked along the ridge to Lincoln (33/48 for me!) and Lafayette. We passed a good amount of people on the Falling Waters Trail, but once on the ridge we only passed one other couple. It was surreal having the ridge mostly to ourselves on such a beautiful day!

Looking toward the Kinsmans and Cannon from Little Haystack.

On the summit of Lafayette, I thought about how it had been my first of the NH 48 4,000 footers, and I hadn’t been back since 2012 (the summer before college). The Franconia Ridge loop had been on my list since so it was great to finally be able to check it off.

Presidential Range in the background.

From the summit of Lafayette, we descended to the Greenleaf Hut (closed in winter) and enjoyed some snacks on the front porch. The rest of the hike down the Old Bridal Path was quick—a combination of boot skiing and butt sledding—but I did take a few tumbles.

Trying to make it down the Old Bridal Path before sunset.


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Comments 1

  • MARK S COUTO : Apr 27th

    Yup it was my first hike as well just 7 months ago. I have added 23 more since then and mostly winter hikes. Looking forward to doing the Franconia Loop again in the summer


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