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Franconia Ridge Loop

 4.9 (109)
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8.6 Miles 13.9 Kilometers

3,789' 1,155 m


-3,790' -1,155 m



Avg Grade (9°)


Max Grade (38°)

5,216' 1,590 m


1,818' 554 m


Shared By Francis Fontaine


Minor Issues 5 days ago
Snowy, Icy History

Getting forecast...

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

Francis Fontaine

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.


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 hike 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!


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.


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Your Check-Ins


Dec 15, 2018
Will Smith
beautiful dry day on the Ridge. The wind was intense, but it was a beautiful clear day — 8h 00m
Oct 20, 2018
Ben Murphy
Amazing hike, weather was foggy and misty in the morning ~ mid 40s , at summit of Mt Lafayette was beautiful and sunny, went reverse direction shown 9.2mi
Oct 19, 2018
Zachary Deziel
Ice just below tree line. Ridge was clear.
Oct 7, 2018
Brian Chen
W/ Victoria 8.9mi
Sep 30, 2018
Johannah Frelier
Best hike ever!!! 20 degrees cooler on the ridge 8.6mi
Sep 23, 2018
Robert Vida
Sep 16, 2018
Daniel Pusztai
Full loop finishing on falling waters 8.6mi
Sep 16, 2018
Mark Kirley
Looped Counter clockwise, far more spectacular this way. Once you’re above the tree line, you see your destination of Lafayette looming miles away. 9.2mi

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 109 votes


  4.9 from 109 votes
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1,645 Views Last Month
58,602 Since Mar 21, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

serena massey
Holden, Ma.
serena massey   Holden, Ma.
Beautiful Hike yesterday the view is 360 degrees,stayed at Greenleaf Hut last night and traversed down today July 24,2017 Jul 24, 2017
Gary C  
Just to note, I'd recommend going counter clockwise - opposite the description here. Why? I prefer starting with the steeper, more sporty section of the trail so when you are coming back down, it's easier on your knees and more pleasant. I always find steeper up is better than steeper down and use that as a general rule of thumb. Oct 4, 2018
Gary C  
PS - I think it's also better to approach waterfalls from the bottom and not the top - - so consider that another reason to go counter clockwise. :) Oct 4, 2018

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