Mt. Flume, & Liberty 9-11-11
I fully admit this is a month late, but better late than never. I had a very busy summer and was just happy to be out hiking as this was 2 weeks before my wedding that we were planning in under 2 months. So it has taken me this long to catch back up.
Mt. Flume & Mt. Liberty
Whitehouse Trail - Liberty Spring Trail - Flume Slide Trail - Franconia Ridge Trail - Liberty Spring Trail - Whitehouse Trail
Distance: 8.59 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2,713 ft. (overall) 3,078 ft. (total)
Time: 3:34 (Mt. Flume) 4:20 (Mt. Liberty) 6:15 (total)
The trail starts off with no major uphills or down hills on it's way to to the bike path. There are some rocks but mostly the trail is smooth or has exposed roots. It doesn't take long to get to the bike path from the parking lot. After a short walk up the bike path, you reach the Liberty Spring Trail.
The Liberty Spring Trail heads gradually uphill with no major climbs. There are some sections with large rocks or stones built into steps. There are a couple small brooks or wet sections of trail, but nothing to worry about. You slowly gain elevation while working back and forth along the base of the mountain. Before too long you reach the junction with the Flume Slide Trail at some interesting raised walkways on the main trail.
Liberty Spring Trail at junction with Flume Slide Trail
The Flume Slide starts off only gaining elevation a little at a time. The trail is very smooth. As you get further down the trail, the brush around you gets a little tight at times, but it gives you a sense of being out in the woods alone in a secluded area that is quite nice. Before the slide there are a few brook crossings. All of these were pretty easy as you could walk across rocks. Up until the last brook crossing this trail is a beautiful hike and I wouldn't mind coming back just for a stroll in the woods and to take some pictures.
After the last brook crossing though, you come to the base of the slide. All of a sudden the trail heads uphill and turns to loose rocks and dirt. Now you start the long steep climb up to the Osseo and Franconia Ridge Trails just below the summit. The start of the slide is mostly small loose rock. As it goes up, it turns to larger rocks and then smooth rock faes. I managed to make it up the whole trail without using any of the side paths around the hard sections. Even with the rocks being damp in places, I just picked my line before I headed up and then took it slow and careful. To be honest I don't like going off the trail and impacting the mountain more, plus the side paths didn't look much easier anyways. In some places to stay on the trail, I did however have to stay on my hands and knees or duck under some very low branches to stay on the "easier" part of the trail. After quite some time on the slide, the trail turns right for a bit before going back left and up another slide. When you hit the top of the slides it still stays quite rocky until the top. This climb is certainly a hard one and makes you really feel like you earned the summit.
Much of the trail is like this
Once at the top of the trail, it is a short hike to the right to get to the summit and some great views. Although today was a bit cloudy, the clouds were luckily above this peak. When I got there around 11:30, the flag was already flying and had a crowd.
Flags on the summit of Mt. Flume
I stayed on the summit for a while and met some very nice people (and pets). After enjying this summit and getting a small flag that was being handed out to each hiker, I headed on to Mt. Liberty. Luckily, not before the helicopter fly by of the summit.
Helicopter fly by
The trail heading down into the saddle had a fair amount of small rocks, but wasn't bad. In one tight section I almost had a bird fly right into me as it was buzzing up the trail. After a short hike in the saddle, you begin to go up Mt. Liberty on similar trail conditions. Only at the top of the trail did the rocks get larger.
Just starting up Mt. Liberty
Soon I was at the summit and another great view. There seemed to be another great group of people here also fullying enjoying the day. I took another break here and took in the great views again while listening to all the other hikers. Once the flag flying period was done, I started down the trail to head out and maybe beat the crowds a bit.
View from Mt. Liberty
A look back at Mt. Liberty
Quickly you come to the top of the Liberty Spring Trail and head down it to the left. The trail heads downhill at a good incline and seems to be quite a few of good size rocks. I was able to hop down the rocks pretty well as I am still young enough my knees haven't gone bad yet. The trail doesn't seem to get too steep and as you get closer to the Flume Slide Trail junction it starts to level back out some more. Once down to hear the hiking is pretty easy back to the bike path and then down the Whitehouse Trail.
Liberty Spring Trail
Even though today was mostly cloudy and the sun only really started to come out later in the day, it was still a fun day and another great FOT48 event. This was my second year hiking during it (not on a team) and I certainly plan on doing it again. It seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves today and a fair amount of people were out considering the weather. The Flume Slide wasn't quite what I expected, but it was still a fun challenge after a great section of trail leading up to it.
View back up to the mountains
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE