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Franconia Ridge Loop

Difficult
 4.9 (175) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A classic strenuous route that takes all your energy but gives so much in return!


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Map Key

8.3

Miles

13.4

KM

62%

Runnable

5,208' 1,587 m

High

1,824' 556 m

Low

3,566' 1,087 m

Up

3,564' 1,086 m

Down

16%

Avg Grade (9°)

78%

Max Grade (38°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

**Stay on Trail** once you are above treeline, the alpine zone is very fragile and you can kill the plants by simply stepping on them.

Overview

This loop offers everything you can expect. Steep hard rocky terrain, yet superb panoramic views on an exposed ridgeline for a long mile! During the descent, you'll cross several waterfalls.

This is a strenuous and steep trail. You'll want to be in shape for this one!

Need to Know

About 3/4 of the way to the top, you'll get to Greenleaf hut, which is perfect for filling your water bottle with drinkable tap water. The hut also sells things like muffins, candy and coffee. It's a perfect place to eat your lunch.

The run to the top is really rocky, so please do not use sandals - hiking boots or running shoes are really necessary here. On the summit you are exposed to full weather so bring windstopping clothes.

During the descent you'll follow a river and cross several waterfall so you could bring some water purifier and refill your water bottle there.

Keep to weight to a minimum and yet never ran out of water!

Runner Notes

You probably don't want to run this one unless you're crazy fit and want a challenge.

The FKT is one of the most competitive in the region, with Steven Lange currently having the fastest time of 1:32:02. Typically these runners will go counter-clockwise and summit Lincoln first.

Description

Since it is a loop, you can do it both ways, but I like to start with the Old Bridle Path trail that goes to the summit of Mt. Lafayette. Going this direction offers several advantages, like water refilling and the views seem to be at the right time and place.

I like to split this into three parts, where the first part (4 miles) is the ascent. Start with Old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trail, from the Franconia Notch Parkway (wich is an AMC Shuttle stop). It's an easy start for the 2 miles and gets much steeper after. You'll get really nice view of Mt. Lafayette. After 2.9 miles you'll arrive at Greenleaf hut. A rest there will be appreciated just before the summit pitch.

The second section is a push between four summits with 360 views for the next mile and a half. Be sure to take a rest at the first summit. Starting early in the morning will assure that you get the full view. You don't want to rush this part. It's a great place to take pictures of the wild.

The last part of the route is 3 miles long and is simply wonderful. It is steeper than the ascent though, be prepared! The trail follows a river and passes several waterfalls. Since I always do this part last, I get the golden sun of the late afternoon blazing through the forest... simply great.

Contacts

Shared By:

Francis Fontaine with improvements by Matthew Walker

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 175 votes

#2

Overall
  4.9 from 175 votes
5 Star
91%
4 Star
7%
3 Star
1%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2

Overall
1,556 Views Last Month
135,096 Since Mar 21, 2015
Difficult

1%
1%
3%
3%
90%
3%

Photos

Franconia Ridge Trail.
Apr 14, 2016 near Deerfield, NH
The summit of Lincoln offers a beautiful view looking south.
Jun 25, 2017 near Deerfield, NH
Climbing Falling Waters Trail
Mar 25, 2015 near Lincoln, NH
The summit of Mt. Lafayette looms out of the clouds ahead.
Aug 20, 2016 near Deerfield, NH
Greenleaf Path is steep with loose rock. Cool day on 7-2-2020 just below the Alpine Zone.
Jul 16, 2020 near Deerfield, NH
No Conservation Corps switchbacks along these trails. It's up and down big rock virtually the entire route.
Jul 16, 2020 near Lincoln, NH

Weather


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Check-Ins

Oct 4, 2020
DingusMan Yeet
Ran clockwise, next time I'd lean more towards counter, seems to be a bit more runnable on the way down. The ridge-line is great though. 8.6mi — 3h 15m
Sep 26, 2020
Andrew Thomas
3h 30m
Sep 15, 2020
Pamela Kirby
8.8mi — 3h 00m
Aug 19, 2020
Matt Hudson
Took clockwise route. Hut had access to water outside and allowed refilling before heading up to summits. Good trail run! 8.5mi — 2h 44m
Sep 26, 2019
Jason Stapley
Feb 17, 2019
Galina Melamed
5h 45m
Aug 7, 2018
Jason Stapley
Aug 4, 2018
Carl Girard