Three seasons on Franconia Range - TR 10-9-12
Mt. Lafayette & Mt. Lincoln & Mt. Liberty & Mt. Flume
Greenleaf Trail --> Franconia Ridge Trail --> Osseo Trail --> Lincoln Woods Trail
Distance: 12.5 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,298 ft. (overall) 4,552 ft (total)
Time: 2:12 (Hut) 3:18 (Lafayette) 3:58 (Lincoln) 5:56 (Liberty) 6:50 (Flume) 9:21 (Total)
At the start of the trail near the tramway parking lot, it was certainly fall. There were leaves on the ground and the temps were cool. The trail starts by going down along the highway in the woods while slowly gaining elevation. After a while it starts to turn left into a series of switchbacks as it works its way up the side of the mountains. At the top of the switchbacks, you pop out into Eagle Pass. The place is pretty interesting with a shear cliff on your left and views back behind you and up ahead. I will definitely hike through here again. You work through the pass and start turning to the right working up the backside of ridge. After a couple switchbacks and some turns, you start getting close to the Greenleaf Hut. As I neared the hut, I started to encounter snow along the trail in the trees. It was just warm enough that some of this was melting and falling down on the trail and of course me as well. When I reached the hut, I took a break to have a snack. I also took off my wet clothes and put on most if not all of my dry layers. I knew it was going to be cold and windy ahead, and didn't want to be trying to add clothes in that. The temp at the hut was showing at 32 degrees and the wind was pretty steady at 20-25 mph gusting to 40mph.
The trail passing between boulders
Starting out from the hut, I went a bit slower than normal to keep from getting sweaty and wet in the cold conditions. Before long I was above the treeline and fully into the clouds, cold, and wind. Snow was starting to cover the ground more, but luckily not much in the trail. Rime ice was also forming too. The closer I got to the summit, the more ice and snow there was. I also started to see other hikers headed the other way.
Looks like we will be in the clouds
More snow on the ground
Rime on the summit
I didn't stay at the summit long since it was windy and there weren't any views. Far different from the only other time I was here. It was looking (and feeling) like winter here. Heading down to Lincoln went well and quick. Still plenty of snow, but no slick trails. That was nice since I was exposed on the ridge in the wind. When I got to the summit of Mt. Lincoln, I wasn't fully sure I was actually on it in the clouds. There is two humps at the peak, and I couldn't tell if I was on the higher one. Judging from past pictures, I was in the correct place.
Still cloudy on Lincoln
I made my way down to Little Haystack and stopped just past the Falling Waters trail where it heads into the woods. Time for another snack. Coming down from here was steeper than I expected, but when I looked back at the map, it seemed right. Through the section before Mt. Liberty, the temps were getting higher and snow was melting off the trees again and the ground was getting a bit muddy. It's almost like spring time now. I only saw one other hiker in this stretch (a possible thru hiker). The trail is easy through here and pretty interesting. It went by quick and the only harder bit is just before Mt. Liberty.
Between Lincoln and Liberty
Liberty below the clouds
On Mt. Liberty I was finally below the clouds, but the still filled the sky. I was pretty comfortable after removing a couple layers a bit back. I stayed here for a bit and had some more of my sandwhich, but knew I should keep going as well.
Cannon to the north
Down from Liberty and up Flume are both a bit steep with some scrambles and lots of small rocks. Having been here before, I was expecting this, but I was getting a bit tired by the time I hit the 4th peak of the day. For the fourth time today, I had the summit to myself. Just as I was leaving, a couple was coming out of the trees having come up the FLume Slide Trail.
A little steep and a lot rocky
Mt. Flume summit
The Osseo Trail has a brief section that is a little steep, but quickly gets pretty gentle until the ladders. I took my time on the ladders with them being damp, but things went smoothly. After the switchbacks it was back into some hardwoods again with a little bit of dull yellow still on the leaves. It was like fall again. The trail is easy from here, but seems a bit long (it is). By the time you start thinking the brook on your right is a ways below you and you aren't dropping elevation enough, the trail soon heads dowm more and you reach the Lincoln Woods Trail. This straight boring bit at the end was made better by a couple other hikers I chatted with that were on their way out from a 3 day trip of the Bonds
Back to fall like conditions
Even with the expired foliage and cloudy day, this hike was still great. I will certainly do this again. In the end, I enjoyed the snow and wind and was surprised with how my legs didn't seem as tired as I expected.
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE
The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to sdways01 For This Useful Post:
Anna LeBlanc (10-20-2012), BAXTERCA2 (10-15-2012), Charlie (10-13-2012), Snow Miser (10-14-2012)