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The White Mountains - Hiking Franconia Ridge and Garfield Ridge

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Little Haystack Mountain (4760′), Mount Lincoln (5089′), Mount Lafayette (5260′), Mount Garfield, and Galehead Mountain (4024) via the Falling Waters, Franconia Ridge, Garfield Ridge, and Garfield Trails. Four of the peaks part of the NH 4000 footers (Little Haystack doesn’t count on the list). Hiked July 20, 2020.

The Franconia Ridge Trail is one of the most stunning trails in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Located above Franconia Notch in the western White Mountains, the Franconia Ridge Trail passes over the summit of Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette (along with several other peaks to the south of where we reached the ridge). The trail, on a ridge well above treeline, offers 360-degree views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness to the east and Franconia Notch to the west.

NOTE THAT THIS TRAIL IS VERY POPULAR AND VERY BUSY, especially the loop hike that begins at the Lafayette Campground, ascends the Falling Waters Trail, crosses the Ridge to Mount Lafayette, and then descends via the Old Bridle Path Trail back to the campground. Parking can be difficult if not impossible to find on weekends and the trails themselves can be very crowded. We did the hike on a weekday and made sure that we started early in order to secure a parking spot at the Lafayette Campground.

We didn’t do this hike as a loop, but as a one-way hike from the Lafayette Campground up the Falling Waters Trail to the Franconia Ridge Trail at the summit of Little Haystack Mountain. From there we followed the Ridge Trail north to Mount Lincoln, and then to Mount Lafayette. From the summit of Lafayette we took the Garfield Ridge Trail to the northeast, descending to the notch between Lafayette and Mount Garfield, and then ascending up to Mount Garfield. From there continued on the Garfield Ridge Trail to the Galehead Hut and Galehead Mountain. After returning to the Hut, we backtracked on the Garfield Ridge Trail to its intersection with the Garfield Trail. We descended on the Garfield Trail to the trailhead on Gale River Road.

It was a roughly 18 mile hike with about 5800’ of elevation gain and four of the New Hampshire 4000’ers (Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield and Galehead).

You can find this hike: 

White Mountain National Forest Information

Outdoor Hiking, Backpacking and Camping Guide Services: Hike On Guides (hike with us!)

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