Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Trip Report: Falling Waters-Franconia Ridge- Greenleaf hut-Old Bridle Path

We got back this weekend from our trip to Bar Harbor Maine and North Conway New Hampshire. We had a great time and did some serious hiking. When I plan a hike I like to Google for trip reports, I find it really helps to know what you are up against so I'm putting this out there for anyone thinking of doing this particular loop. Get the AMC hiking guide if you plan to hike in the mountains, it's the best resource.

Bar Harbor was nice but very foggy, expensive, and crowded. I'm not sure I'd go back, it's a long drive.

The white mountain area in New Hampshire is my most favorite place in the US that I have been to. If there were any way possible for me to live there I would do it in a second. This was our second year there, last year we hiked Mt Washington and this year decided to do a classic loop including part of the Franconia Ridge trail.

After much googling :) I decided to send us up the Falling Waters trail. This is a great way up to Little Haystack. The trail gets its name for the series of waterfalls it passes on the way up. These give great rewards as you make your way up and give a good excuse to pause and catch your breath while taking pictures. The rocks can be a bit slippery so I like it as an ascending route but there were plenty of people who chose to go down that way and I'm sure it would be fine. No scary sections at all this way up and it is doable if you aren't in as good of shape as last year...

We did the small side trail to shining rock, a large wet slab of granite. It's pretty, if not that exciting.

We stopped for lunch on Little Haystack where the bugs were intense, then it was across the ridge to Mt Lincoln and Mt Lafayette. You are above the treeline for 1.8 miles on the ridge and it is fabulous. The trail is wide enough that it is not scary and the views even in the haze were insane. I read on a clear day you can see to Canada. The only downside to this route is that Little Haystack is the smallest of the three peaks so you have to go down and then up again twice to summit Mt Lafayette before beginning descent. After that last push my legs were really tired.

Then it is down to the AMC greenleaf hut where you can fill up water bottles (I filled up the two I drank on the way up) and grab some snacks if necessary. We didn't rest too long as we were getting tired and knew there was a chance of storms in the afternoon. You do not want to be above the treeline in an electrical storm so pay close attention to the weather.

Old Bridle path (not Old Bridal path as my husband thought. I stopped dead in my tracks when he said the trail must be easy if brides used to walk up it :) ) was an old path used by horses. It is a good way down as it has several rock staircases and isn't as slippery as the falling waters trail. It also gives you great views of the ridge you just hiked. Once back into the woods the trail is really easy, we had to rush our tired, aching legs the last 0.5-0.25 miles as we heard some rumblings of thunder but it never rained.

The round trip was about 8.2 miles and took about 7-7.5 hours. It was very tiring and intense but well worth it. Last year up Mt Washington in July we had to hike in pants and sweatshirts but this time I was hot in my long pants, I sweat more than I've ever sweat in my life. We saw shirtless guys and a girl hiking in a bikini bottom, quite a difference. Bug spray didn't help fend off the crazy viscous bugs which was the only downside to the trip. In my opinion this loop is more tiring than hiking Mt Washington because you go up and down a few hundred feet in elevation gain several times but it is worth doing at least once. Those unobstructed views and lack of car traffic like on Washington is amazing.

So that was the highlight of our trip. We stopped in Portland, ME on the way up to Bar Harbor where I got to visit 2 yarn shops. I'm making one of my semi annual trips to WEBS tomorrow so next time I'll be back with a yarn filled post.

No comments: