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View Full Version : Compare hiking Franconia Ridge to Mt. Washington via Ammonoosuc Ravine and Jewell



dlapine
05-09-2011, 09:06 PM
I was wondering if anyone could compare hiking Franconia Ridge (up Falling Waters and down Bridal Path) to hiking Mt. Washington via Ammonoosuc Ravine and down Jewell Trail. My husband and I visited the White's and hiked Franconia Ridge for the first time last year. It was a pretty difficult hike for me, but the views at the top made it so worth it! We're planning to try Mt. Washington at the end of June (weather permitting) this year, so I wondered if it's about the same (elevation gain and steepness) or if it's much more difficult? Any advice on the easiest trail to hike up would also be appreciated.. Looking forward to visiting the beautiful White Mountains again! Thank you!

bikehikeskifish
05-17-2011, 12:21 PM
The easiest way to Washington is probably round trip by Jewell trail, 10.2 miles, 3800', 7:00. Next would be the loop, Ammonoosuc Ravine and Jewell trail, 9.6 miles, 3800', 6:40. The Ammo is steeper than the Jewell so go up that way and down the Jewell. You can get Mount Monroe for an addition half mile and 300' doing things this way, plus a stop for food/water/rest at the Lake of the Clouds Hut if you are interested.

The popular Falling Waters, Little Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette, Old Bridle Path loop is 9 miles, 3900', 6:30. I would put the two counter-clockwise loops on nearly equal footing, difficulty-wise.

Tim

freighttrain
05-19-2011, 04:47 PM
I personally think that washington is a much tougher climb. I havent tired washington fron the west side only the east via tuckermans ravine. I had done the franconia loop about two months prior to climbing washington and I thought it would be similar. I was mistaken the final climb from the floor of the ravine to the summit was the most grueling climb that I have done in the whites as far as elevation in such a short distance. I have heard that the jewell trail is the easiest way to washington summit. Keep in mind if you climb it from the west side and find it to much to go down you have the option of taking the cog down but its pretty pricey. If you climb from the east side via tuckermans or the boot spur they have shuttles down the autoroad that are about half the price of the cog and they will drop you at pinkham notch visitors center. My opinion you should still attempt washington it is an amazing hike just drink plenty of water the day before and the morning you climb

dlapine
05-25-2011, 08:35 PM
Thanks, Tim. We're really excited to try it and hoping for a nice clear warm day! We'll try the Ammo trail up and see how we do when we get to the hut. I needed a little reinforcement that it was about an equally difficult hike, so glad to hear you think so! Are there any places where streams are difficult to cross? We had a spot on the way up falling waters trail that we had to cross on a pretty high log. I'm not too good at that and certainly don't want wet feet for the remainder of the hike! How about the downhill, is it a pretty good trail? We hiked Tongue Mountain Range in the Adirondaks last weekend and had to slide down a steep slab of rock -- I'm not a rock climber (or descender) either.. But I made it - all 14 miles! ;-) We're from western MA so hike Mt. Greylock a lot as well, but that mountain certainly isn't anywhere near the size of Mt. Washington!

bikehikeskifish
05-26-2011, 10:07 AM
There are no notoriously difficult stream crossings on the Ammo Ravine Trail. Washington via Tuckerman's is 8.4 miles, 4,300 feet which is 500 more feet of elevation in 1.2 to 1.8 fewer miles.

http://inlinethumb61.webshots.com/47292/2911687420097994563S500x500Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2911687420097994563vrgqqm)
Old Bridal Path - Lafayette - Lincoln - Little Haystack - Falling Waters

http://inlinethumb23.webshots.com/48854/2989501170097994563S500x500Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2989501170097994563jOsBDg)
Ammo - Monroe - Washington - Clay - Jewell

Tim

Vox Sciurorum
05-26-2011, 03:01 PM
The nice thing about the Ammonoosuc ravine trail in comparison to Falling Waters is, the steep part (1500 feet per mile) is one mile long instead of two. Two miles of that might be a leg killer for me.

Is Falling Waters tough to go down? I noticed the map above started up the gentle slope of the old bridle path, which I have climbed without difficulty, and down the steep part.

bikehikeskifish
05-31-2011, 02:02 PM
I've come down both but only in winter where the butt sliding was a blast. In summer I've only ever been up both.

Tim

KD Talbot
05-31-2011, 06:48 PM
All good advice here EXCEPT advice about the Cog and Shuttles. There is NO guaranty that you can get a ticket on either. If the train is full, it is full. If the shuttle is full, no ride. You cannot buy a one way ticket in advance for either. If the weather turns one or both may stop running.

If you're going to hike up, you need to be able to get back down yourself. This means: Do not forge on to the summit beyond your endurance thinking you can just get a ride down, there is no guaranty! If you think you might need a ride down when you get to the summit, then turn around and try again some other day.

Jewell, though longer, is the most gradual pathway up AND down.

KDT

mtruman
05-31-2011, 08:03 PM
Is Falling Waters tough to go down? I noticed the map above started up the gentle slope of the old bridle path, which I have climbed without difficulty, and down the steep part.

We've been up Falling Waters 3 times but never down and I'd like to keep it that way (that's my knees speaking). Plenty of people obviously do it and are fine with it. Some even say they like it better in that direction...

dlapine
06-01-2011, 08:29 PM
Tim, thanks so much for the topo maps -- the two hikes do seem pretty comparable - at least on the maps! And thanks everyone for all of your great advice. I do agree that you need to be able to get up and down and not rely on some other mode of transportation down. We'll definitely be looking for good weather to do this hike and will be prepared and head down if bad weather rolls in unexpectedly. I'm sure hoping for clear blue skies that day! John, when we hiked Franconia ridge last year we went up Falling waters and down Bridal path since that's what most folks recommended as the easiest route. Some said that Falling waters was steeper and could be slippery if wet. Our plan originally from reading trip reports on the internet was to go up Old Bridle path but then we spoke to some people on Cannon Mtn. who changed our minds. Either way is tough on the knees for sure! Such a great feeling up there on top above treeline -- hope to feel it again this year! Happy hiking everyone! Stay safe!

Vox Sciurorum
06-02-2011, 07:45 AM
We'll definitely be looking for good weather to do this hike and will be prepared and head down if bad weather rolls in unexpectedly. I'm sure hoping for clear blue skies that day!

I was thinking about doing Franconia ridge tomorrow under the predicted clear blue skies, but I think the forecast winds may make that a bad idea. Unfortunately the air masses that bring clear, predictable weather often bring cold and wind.

mtruman
06-02-2011, 06:48 PM
I was thinking about doing Franconia ridge tomorrow under the predicted clear blue skies, but I think the forecast winds may make that a bad idea. Unfortunately the air masses that bring clear, predictable weather often bring cold and wind.

Cold and wind aren't the worst thing on Franconia Ridge (and are often just a fact of life). As long as the winds aren't strong enough to blow you off the ridge and they aren't accompanied by thunderstorms I'd go for it!

Vox Sciurorum
06-03-2011, 07:53 AM
Cold and wind aren't the worst thing on Franconia Ridge (and are often just a fact of life). As long as the winds aren't strong enough to blow you off the ridge and they aren't accompanied by thunderstorms I'd go for it!

I can take 40 degrees OR 40+ mph wind, but the two of them together with wind chills below freezing make me wait for another day. I like to wear shorts and my legs get cold under 40. I'm not one of those crazy people who climb mountains in mid-winter.

Also my friend is light and probably would get blown off the ridge.

Tomorrow looks like a much better day.

Vox Sciurorum
06-06-2011, 07:32 PM
Tomorrow looks like a much better day.

Saturday was a great day. A little warm for my tastes, some of the time. I was surprised at how much warmer Franconia Ridge was compared to the reported conditions on top of Mount Washington or at the equivalent elevation on Mount Washington.

Up Falling Waters, watching a crowd from Dartmouth zip past my slow self, and down the old bridle path. I haven't heard so much French spoken since high school class. A lot of people were visiting from Qu?bec.

I can see why people have different opinions about descending Falling Waters. Technically it's not hard, but you have to pick your way over rocks with tired legs and for me that's slow going.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5228/5798564208_9de1cb215a_m.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31715949@N00/5798564208/) http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2709/5799588785_67cd4ab33a_m.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31715949@N00/5799588785/)

Answering the original question, I think it was a bit easier than Mount Washington up Ammonoosuc and down Jewell. It was still a long way as my legs judge distance, especially this early in the year.

dlapine
06-06-2011, 09:49 PM
Thanks, John. A bit tougher I think I can handle.. Time will tell. I'm in a little better shape than last year when I did Franconia Ridge so I'm hopeful I'll be able to handle Mt. Washington. And I sure hope for a nice warm blue sky day like you just had! Looked beautiful up there - thanks for posting. Deb

mtruman
06-07-2011, 07:26 AM
You definitely picked the perfect day John! Glad it worked out. Photos are spectacular. Reminds me once again why this is one of my favorite spots on earth.

dlapine
07-03-2011, 09:41 PM
Just wanted to let you all know I made it up The Ammonoosuc and down Jewell trail and what a GREAT day! Your advice was all much appreciated -- and yes, I'd say Washington was a bit tougher than Franconia Ridge, although if you can do Franconia, I'd say it's a sure bet you can also do Washington on these trails. It was a difficult hike for me, especially closer to the Lakes of the Clouds hut, but I did it! We had great weather and didn't use much in my pack, but I'm still glad I brought it just in case. Unfortunately just as we neared the Lakes of the Clouds the clouds rolled in and the peak of Washington was in the fog. All in all though, it was an awesome day since we had views all the way up and down. And Mark, thanks for showing those pics of the grey jays -- they came to us on the way down the Jewell and I was happy to share my crackers with them! What a fantastic ending to a terrific day!

mtruman
07-04-2011, 06:20 AM
So glad you had a good hike. Sounds like an excellent day all around. Too bad the fog on the summit didn't hold off but unfortunately that's the way it goes on this mountain. Nice having the views the rest of the time (and spectacular views they are). The Gray Jay bonus is always a nice way to end off the day.

Vox Sciurorum
07-05-2011, 09:36 PM
And Mark, thanks for showing those pics of the grey jays -- they came to us on the way down the Jewell and I was happy to share my crackers with them! What a fantastic ending to a terrific day!

Lucky. I've never seen a Gray Jay, not even in the distance. I wonder how they decide who to land on.

mtruman
07-06-2011, 07:54 AM
Lucky. I've never seen a Gray Jay, not even in the distance. I wonder how they decide who to land on.

That's easy - if you see them, have food and put your hand out they will land on it. They will also hang around as long as they think there's any more food. They earned their nicknames of "camp robbers". There are also plenty of stories of people sitting down for their lunch and not knowing that the Gray Jays were around and losing a piece of a sandwich or anything else that they might have laid down.

As for where to find them there are a number of very common locations. We've met them on Webster, Pierce, Starr King, Jackson, Liberty and the location on the Jewell that was mentioned here. The most likely spots are places where lots of people tend to stop for lunch and locations near campsites. The spot on Jewell has an illegal campsite right on the trail (supposed to be at least 200' from the trail) so it's a very popular Jay location.

Hopefully you'll run into some out there one of these days. It's really a fun experience.

bikehikeskifish
07-06-2011, 10:14 AM
Also Isolation, Hancocks, Carrigain and perhaps most famously Field (and Tom and Willey). They will take food from you and go an stash it in the bark of a tree for later consumption. This is why they fly away and then return. Most of the time you will get a mating pair, and they occasionally allow one of their brood from this season to hang around for some of the year before booting it out to be on its own.

Note that I've seen a hiker break off a small piece of sandwich and hold it up for a jay. The jay went after the big sandwich in the other hand...

Tim
p.s. If you put food on your head or hat, they will land there too ;)

http://inlinethumb48.webshots.com/45487/2073222670097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2073222670097994563aYsHez)

mtruman
07-06-2011, 09:13 PM
I've seen lots of Gray Jay pics but this one definitely takes the cake Tim!!