Cannon Cliff from Mount Liberty
Mount Liberty 4459' and Mount Flume 4328'
Liberty Springs Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Osseo Trail and Wilderness Trail
9.9 Miles and 3500' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma. Carspot by Dan!
If you hike in the White Mountains enough you get to meet some quality people over the years. Some of the finest I have met are Scott and Jake, (Fishercat and Forester Jake) and their wives. With a deep love of these mountains inbred they are trying to give as much back as they have taken. One way they are doing this is by being volunteer Trail-stewards through the AMC. Their particular section of the mountains is the Osseo Trail which connects the Franconia Ridge Trail at the top of Mount Flume with the Wilderness Trail near Lincoln Woods. Pemi Loop folk are quite familiar with it, though it may be the less traveled way for most visitors to Mount Flume and the Franconia Ridge Trail.
Scott and his "Croo" have done a great job in the maintenance of this gorgeous trail over the last couple of severe winters. Scott himself gives up vacation time to come up from Pennsylvania a couple of times a year for maintenance on the trail. He had told me they would be up this weekend and although I couldn't join them for the night as I would have liked to do, I wanted to be sure we met up with them on the trail. So the plan was hatched that Jude's brother would carspot for us at Lincoln Woods and drive us up to the Basin parking lot where we'd hike down to Liberty Springs Trail, ascend over Mounts Liberty and Flume and meet the late arriving trail party on the way down the Osseo Trail to Lincoln Woods., scouting the trail for blowdowns and areas in need of work as we went.
View of Franconia Ridge from Mount Flume
Liberty Spring Trail was one of my first trails to a 4k mountain. Later I climbed it in winter and suffered some shoestring burns across the top of my foot from tying my boots too tight, making for a long, cold painful outing. I sort of looked at the return to this trail with a little trepidation. I remembered it as a relentless climb, picking through the rocks. That's partially true. It's like that after the first two very pleasant, gradually climbing miles. It was a beautiful spring day. Just cool enough to keep the bugs at bay. Dan hiked with us to the junction with Flume Slide Brook, then descended to explore around The Basin.
We took a slow pace and the tedious climb seemed to pass quickly and painlessly. A couple passed us. We passed some others, but the trail was far from crowded. We found later that many had come up the Flume Slide Trail. We stopped at Liberty Spring Tentsite and spoke briefly to the caretakers. It was a real nice day! We were on the summit before we knew it. There were 3 others. Before we left there were about fifteen and more were arriving by the minute. Quick lunch and off we went to Mount Flume. The first time I had climbed up here I had crossed from Liberty to Flume and back to Liberty and back down Liberty Spring Tail. I found the whole hike exhausting. It was one of my first, though. This day I was glad not to have to return the way we came.
Painted Trillium Trillium undulatum
We were soon on the summit of Mount Flume. We spent about a half an hour each on both summits. Perfect day! Breeze just enough to keep the bugs down but not make you cold. Eventually we ducked down into the woods and began our descent along the Osseo Trail. After descending for a while you come to some bog bridges (or puncheons as some call them). There is a flat plateau like area here above the steep ladders. This area was like walking through a garden this day. There was Painted Trillium, Goldthread, Rhodora and Pin Cherry all in bloom and abundance. Beautiful!
Zoom of Bondcliff
There is a wonderful spot along the ladder section where you can step off trail and have a great view of the Twins, Guyot and The Bonds as they rise above Owl's Head. As we got below the ladders we started to watch for signs of Scott and his trail party. Away below the switchbacks we came upon the party and had a little, all to brief reunion. They were carrying heavy packs with overnight gear along with trail tools so I didn't want to hold them up long. They still had to set up camp and had trailwork to do next day. The thing we were able to report was that the trail above was fine. Someone had been through and cleared a few blowdowns and had done some trimming, so their weekend could be less about work and more about enjoying their return to the Whites.
We love the Osseo Trail!
Their volunteer work is an inspiration and the Osseo Trail is one beautiful trail worth visiting again and again. That is what I took away from this hike. Thanks guys. Glad we got to say "Hi". Hopefully a longer visit next time!