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!
Features: Fall Colors — River/Creek — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers
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
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.