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Franconia Ridge Loop

  4.9 ( 130 ) Favorite


8.3 mile 13.4 kilometer loop


Ascent: 3,566' 1,087 m
Descent: -3,564' -1,086 m
High: 5,208' 1,587 m
Low: 1,824' 556 m


Avg Grade: 16% (9°)
Max Grade: 78% (38°)


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Trail shared by Francis Fontaine

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

Francis Fontaine

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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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna, History & Background


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Sep 1, 2019
Siyu Chen
Aug 26, 2019
Tawnya Ruby
Challenging but hugely rewarding hike — 7h 30m
Aug 23, 2019
Elliot Lin
Aug 14, 2019
Alina Pechacek
Perfect clear day, some scrambling to get down wet rocks on the falling water trail descent. 8.5mi — 5h 08m
Aug 10, 2019
ajmags263 Mags
South to north, hail, rain, fog, wind, distant thunder, brief sleet between Lincoln and Lafayette. Cleared gloriously for a short window to Greenleaf — 7h 30m
Jul 9, 2019
Dave Oakman
Jun 26, 2019
Tara Gentile
Jun 14, 2019
Casey Glanton
Favorite loop in New Hampshire! Falling waters descent was pretty sketch in the rain. Took a little slide down some long, slick slab toward the bottom 8.3mi

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 130 votes


  4.9 from 130 votes
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