Lafayette & Lincoln (hike)

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Lafayette & Lincoln (hike)
Greenleaf Hut and Franconia Ridge.jpg
A CnT group hanging out by the Greenleaf Hut with Franconia Ridge in the background, February 2011.
Drive 75 miles
Hike 9 miles
Difficulty Strenuous

Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln is a very popular, classic hike in Franconia Notch state park. It includes a number of peaks with excellent views and a 1.7 mile section along gorgeous Franconia Ridge.

Driving Directions

Take 91 North from Hanover, get off at Fairlee and take 25A to 25 to 118 as you would to go to the Lodge. Continue on 118 past the lodge until it ends at 112. Take the right fork to get on to 112 north, which you will follow to I-93 North. Take I-93 through the Franconia Notch and get off at the Lafayette Place exit across from Lafayette campground. The exit is marked with a TRAILHEAD PARKING sign.

Alternatively, you can save time and follow Google Map's directions. Take 91 North from Hanover, get off at exit 17 and take 302 East. Follow the signs for 302 East vigilantly and it will take you to I-93 which you take south until exiting at the Lafayette campground (the trail head for Falling waters and Old Bridal Path is on the East side of the interstate). Just be sure on the return trip to Hanover to wait for the 302- WEST exit off of I-93. There will be a 302 East exit before the 302 exit that you want.

Hiking Directions

After a short distance, the trail will diverge into the Old Bridle Path, which is the trail you want, and the Falling Waters Trail, which you will take on the way down. Proceed up the Old Bridle Trail three steep miles up the side of the ridge to the Greenleaf AMC hut. From here, it is just over a mile to the summit of Lafayette. At the summit, you meet up with the Franconia Ridge Trail (AT). If conditions are good, follow this trail for 1.7 beautiful above-treeline miles over Lincoln to Little Haystack, where you'll meet the Falling Waters trail. Enjoy the pretty waterfalls on your way down the ridge and back to your vehicle

Advice & Anecdotes

Partway down the Falling Waters trail, there is a short spur to Shining Rock, which is a great place for belly-sledding, at least in the early spring. It also has some gorgeous views, so definitely check it out, no matter what season.

If hiking in the winter or early spring when it can be cold and snowy, consider which direction you want to do the Lafayette Lincoln loop in. The Falling Waters trail is steeper which makes it better to go up in the winter than to come down. However in the early spring of 2010 we had to forge across the (quite high) stream many times in the beginning of our hike because we went up the Falling Waters trail that crosses the same stream about seven times. The Old Bridal Path doesn't have stream crossings, so in cold weather I would suggest hiking up Old Bridal Path to avoid wet feet for as long as possible.

Trip Reports


What a wonderful spring hike in Franconia! Our route: Falling Waters trail to the Ridge trail to Old Bridal Path. We chose to do the loop in this direction because the Falling Waters Trail is steeper and thus harder to go down when snowy than Old Bridal Path. There was snow on the trail after about the first 1/4 mile so we used crampons for most of the climb up. During the first mile and a half there are probably six stream crossings- Falling waters trail is aptly named. With all the snow melt in early spring, the water was fairly high. For the first crossing we hiked up the side of the stream and found a better place to cross. Feet inevitably got wet, but we had a warm day, so the damp socks didn't cause any problems. Once up on the ridge we had glorious views all around. We had a yummylicious lunch of cucumbers, hummus, and cheese on pitas on Lincoln and then we continued on to the big mamma mountain, Lafayette. Coming down Lafayette was tricky, because of the slushy snow (the temperature was probably in the upper sixties, low seventies). Putting crampons on made the downhill easier, but some tripees opted for the sliding technique, which is fun albeit slightly dangerous. By the end of the hike we were all low on water (despite having more than 2 liters per person between all nine of us). We should have filled up at one of the many streams we crossed, but we managed to eke out enough water between all of us to make it down with out needing to refill. Overall we had an awesome hike!

-Steph Crocker '12 & Jen McDonald '11 CnTOR


Group: 9. Krystyna Oszkinis (Heeler), Matt Pickart (Co-Leader). Trippees:Laura Bergsten, Patrick Campbell, Sasha Dudding, Joey Gabianelli, Peter Governali, Eliza Huntington, Rebecca Leong

Weather: Unseasonably warm, very clear skies allowing for great visibility. Windy aprroaching the summit. Overall superb.

Route: Begin at Pinkham Notch, ascend up Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail leading to Lion’s Head trail to the summit, returning on Boott Spur. To get to Boott Spur trail from the summit, take the Crawford Path down to Davis Path, which will lead to Boott Spur.

Time: 4.5 hrs ascending.

Notes: Tuckerman's Trail is considered the easiest way to summit Mt. Washington from Pinkham Notch, but also more crowded. Turning off onto Lion's Head trail means a rockier, more rugged path to the summit, but is a great alternative to the high traffic of Tuckerman's Ravine Trail. Stopping at Lion Head for lunch is a great way to appreciate the exquisite view before reaching the tourist hub at the summit. Though crowded, the famous summit provides a welcome rest and convinient water refill station.


Group: 10. Jeremy Brouilette (leader), Jocelyn Powelson and Krystyna Oszkinis (co-leaders), Trippees: Ben Bauer, Zach Wood, Shelby Hinds, Elise Seyferth, Mark Sheridan, Andrew Milligan

Weather: Fairly cold, especially considering the generally warm spring we've been having. Temperature not too bad below tree-line, but very windy on the ridge, which made it feel colder. Clear skies and bright sun!

Route: Parked in Basin parkinglot. Went up Liberty via Liberty Springs Trail. Continued along Franconia Ridge, crossing Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette. Descended via Old Bridle Path. Finished at Lafayette Place Campground carpark. (Note: there is a ~1.5 mile long bike path linking Basin carpark with Lafayette Place carpark)

Time: 10-10.5 hrs.

Notes: We stayed in John Rand cabin the night before (also possible to stay in Ritchie Smith), which is about a 30 minute drive from the carpark. We originally planned to have two groups start at either end of the trail (Flume and Lafayette) but had to change plans to hike in only one group. Parking at the basin lot allowed us to go to Liberty (it's another 2-3 miles to go to Flume and back from the summit of Liberty, but we didn't have time) and then cross over the ridge to mostly complete the traverse (as opposed to doing the Falling Springs - Old Bridal Path loop, which skips Liberty and Flume). Most of the Liberty Springs trail was free of snow and ice, but there was a difficult stream-crossing with some icy-rocks. Once we started to get near the treeline, the Liberty trail got a bit snowier (only a few inches) so we used microspikes on the section of trail between Liberty and Little Haystack. Microspikes were not necessary on the ridgeline, where the trail was fairly clear. In clear weather, there are fantastic views from the ridgeline in all directions (can easily see the prezzies). From Little Haystack to Lafayette is about 3-4 miles of exposed ridgeline with only a few spots to shelter behind rocks if it's windy (something to keep in mind if the weather isn't great). It was very windy, so we didn't stop often on the ridge. From Lafayette, contined down, past the Greenleaf Hut (closed in winter and early spring), and down via the Old Bridle Path, using microspikes for the first section below treeline where the trail was quite icy.


Group: Shea Flanagan '14 (Co-Leader), Eliza Rockefeller'17 (Heeler), Joshua Renaud '17, Daniel Alzarez '15, Julia Hudnut-Beulmer '13

Weather: Overcast and breezy in the early morning with rain in the forecast but quickly cleared up and become warm and sunny! Windy enough at the summit of Lafayette to need a warm layer or two.

Route: From the parking lot up Old Bridle path, past the AMC Greenleaf hut, then to the summit of Lafayette and down the Old Bridle path again.

Time: Ten hours round trip from Robo; six and a half to seven hours of hiking. The drive was an hour and a half.

Trip Report: We arrived at the trailhead to find that the previous night's heavy rain had turned the trail into a river! We quickly decided to scrap our original plan to hike up Falling Water and do the entire Lafayette-Lincoln-Little Haystack loop, deciding to take Old Bridle trail up to Lafayette instead and avoid all the stream crossings of Falling Water. Streams that were normally small spilled over their banks, making the first spur of the trail quite difficult. A non-DOC group of Dartmouth students were also hiking and we all helped each other out with some tough (but exciting!) stream crossings. Then we continued up Old Bridle, stopping to admire the spectacular view from the ledges part of the way to the AMC hut. We had to use microspikes for the forested section just before the hut where compacted ice covered the trail. After resting briefly at the AMC Greenleaf hut we hiked another hour up to the summit of Lafayette and enjoyed our lunch there. The day was clear and we enjoyed spectacular 360 degree views! Then we descended the same route we had taken up, stopping at the AMC hut to refill our water bottles.


Group: Shane Wiseberg'16 (leader), Renata Hegyi'16 (healer), Alice Wang'16, Dana Wieland'16, and Greg Partridge'16

Weather: It was raining for most of the way up. Very foggy and quite windy on the ridge. The way down it was only a light drizzle, but still very foggy.

Route: Took Falling Water up to Little Haystack, traversed the ridge, ate lunch in the Greenleaf AMC hut, and came down on Old Bridle path.

Time: Left Robo at 7:30AM, back by 5:30PM.

Trip Report: The weather seemed mild enough when we arrived to the trailhead, so we decided to attempt going up on Falling Water, as we have planned. About a mile into our ascent it started raining. Everyone had rain gear and everyone felt comfortable with continuing on, but we made sure to take it slow on steep rock faces, so as to avoid injuries caused by slipping. Due to the dense fog on the ridge we sped across it, reaching Greenleaf AMC hut by noon. We warmed up and had a tasty lunch complete with Cabot, hummus, wild blueberry jam and organic peanut butter. The descend on Old Bridle Path went smoothly. As we were driving home, the sky has cleared completely.


Group: Anna Knowles '16 (leader), Shannon Cleary '16 (heeler), Elizabeth Twomey '15, Joanna Xing '15 Kate Schreiber '18

Weather: There was a little bit of fog in the morning, but it had cleared up by the time we started hiking and there were only a few clouds when we reached treeline.

Route: Falling Waters to Little Haystack, traversed ridge up Lincoln and Lafayette and came down Old Bridle.

Time: Left Robo at 8:15 back at 7 with a short excursion to Whippi Dip.

Trip Report: A gorgeous hike on a gorgeous day. Some of the stream traverses on Falling Waters required some agility, but we had no problems besides a few slightly wet boots (extra pairs of socks were a good idea). There was still snow/ice and we hit a few rough patches where we were happy to have the microspikes. The lookout on Falling Waters was a beautiful spot for a quick snack and a great place to fill up water. We had a delicious, albeit a little windy lunch at the top of Little Haystack, and the views at the summits and along the Ridge were spectacular.