Trails: Bike Path, Whitehouse, Flume Slide, Franconia Ridge, Liberty Springs Trail/Appalachian Trail
Distance: 10.4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 9.0 hrs (includes stops for breaks along the trail, and at both
My 4000+ Peaks #18 & #19 respectively
Listed 4000+: #25 & 18 respectively
The Terrifying 25 List: Flume
Difficulty: Strenuous Danger: Medium to High (exposed/steep sections, rock scrambling) Rock Scrambles: Parts of Flume Slide - Class II+
Oh my heck! Oh my heck! Oh.My.Heck! What a funtastic day
for hiking and rock scrambling. I had no idea how fun this would be. I thought
the Caps Ridge Trail to Mt. Jefferson and the White Dot Trail to Monadnock
Mountain was a blast. But this scramble to the summit to Mt. Flume, this was epic!
Let me back up a bit.......
I was the second person parked near the bike path
entrance of the Flume Gorge parking lot. I quickly geared up and slung my 20lb
backpack on. I packed the usual emergency shelter, extra (winter) clothing, survival
kit, first aid kit, camera, food, water, sports drinks. And I had left my itinerary
of trails I would hike with my immediate
family. I extended my trekking poles knowing full well that on the steep ledges
I would put them away. I rechecked my map once more and started up the bike
At 0.9 mile is the start of the Liberty Springs Trail. This
trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and is wide and well traveled. For the most
part it was dry with just a few spots of muddy areas. The trail climbs
moderately and at the junction of the Flume Slide Trail, a young father and son
passed me. All week I had been checking the weather reports and it was sunny all week leading into the weekend. So with all that dry weather, I was really counting on the Flume Slide Trail being dry. I turned right onto the Flume Slide Trail.......
The Flume Slide Trail starts off easy with several water
crossings and good footing. Also, some parts of the trail was narrow. I was
excited as I knew I was getting closer to the base of the ledges when there was
alot of loose gravel on the
trail...much like the bottom portion of the White Dot Trail to Monadnock
At the base of the very first ledge I rested for a bit. A couple came
up behind me and I commented to her about her cool skirt. She told me she loved
hiking in it and pulled her skirt up to reveal a connected pant. I started up the trail behind the couple and
the trail was easy, but my trekking poles were annoying me. They got in the way
when I tried to climb hand over hand. I rock climb (Class 5), so I stopped
off to the side of the trail, retracted my poles and packed them in my
backpack. Ah, much better...I was able to climb faster!
I didn't see any but according to the White Mountain
Guide, 'there are beaten paths through the woods alongside the ledges that
bypass some worst spots'...not that I needed to get off the trail or anything...just
sayin'. I found the ascent on this portion of the trail to be fun. This type of
climbing is rated as a Class 3, but this is what I came for. I gotta get my
climb on and I was stoked even if it was only rock scrambling. For me,
scrambling is another way of enjoying the freedom of climbing without any rope
and gear. Warning, this last portion of the trail is indeed steep, 1,400 feet
of elevation gain and all in a distance of 0.7 mile. How fun is that?! LOL!
Overall, this section is pure rock scrambling and there are
plenty of good foot and hand holds. In addition to large holds, I found plenty
of holds in smaller sizes to pinch, surfaces to push off of, and even smeared a
couple of times!I also took a couple
of photos from the sides of the trail to show the grade.
At the main ridge crest are a couple more signs where
Osseo Trail leads to the right and Franconia Ridge Trail leads to the left with
the Flume summit just 0.1 mile. I quickly headed up a smaller, steep path and
came to a small crag where a couple and their dog were lunching. The views were
The slides were AMAZING and I just had to get a photograph! Imagine ascending this
There were two dozen folks at the summit with more
sitting along the edges of the ridge. I spoke with a father with his 13 yr old
son who were making their last hike along Franconia Ridge before his son had to
go back to school. More hikers showed up, they had hiked to the summit via the
Liberty Springs and Osseo Trails. And a boy scout troupe of 6 boys and two
leaders showed up-they packed stoves and lunched on hot ramen noodles. I spent
30 minutes at the summit eating my lunch, taking photos and chatting with other
hikers.There are no signs, cairns or benchmarks to distinguish the summit of Mt. Flume. :-(
Mt. Liberty from Mt. Flume summit
I hiked onto Mt. Liberty in just under an hour, it was an
easy descent from Flume and I was relieved to finally get to the Liberty
summit. My hiking boots didn't give me any problems on the ascent, but I
wondered if they'd give me problems on my descent. Btw, this portion of the
trail was extremely busy, lots of folks hiking both directions of this trail,
many with dogs. I finally summited Liberty and like the Flume summit, checked
into Facebook. But I couldn't get a connection for my Peaks app on both
summits. So I just took as many photos as I could.
Looking back at Mt. Flume
I spent another 30 minutes at the Liberty summit eating,
chatting with other hikers and taking photos. The wind started to pick up and
it started to get cloudy. I reluctantly made my way down to the Franconia Ridge
trail. Soon I would be at the Tentsite on Liberty Springs Trail. I couldn't
wait to see that as I had never, ever
seen a Tentsite along a trail in my life!
Mt. Liberty summit from the Franconia Ridge Trail
Franconia Notch from the Franconia Ridge Trail
The Liberty Springs Trail Tentsite - waaaay cool!! There
are wooden tent platforms on the right side of the trail, and a spring on the
left. I noted that there was a "caretaker" to check in campers and
made my way down the trail a bit more until I got to the Caretaker Tent.
The Caretaker was sitting out on her deck and I chatted
with her about camping at the tentsite. She said that the Outhouse is only for
solid waste (you peed in the woods) and it was recommended that the spring
water be treated/filtered before drinking. You could tell she loves her job.
She said that she spent a couple months as the Tentsite
Caretaker.....alternating 12 days on and 12 days off. And she let me take her
Other than foot pain, the rest of my descent down the
Liberty Springs trail went without any incident. There were folks still coming
up the trail, many to camp at the tentsite. And many other hikers making their
way down the trail as well.
On my descent my feet were starting to hurt. I had
remembered to put my knee brace on at the start of my hike so my left knee
wasn't bothering me at all. But my feet started to bother me. Last week I
brought my Keen hiking boots into EMS and Ritchie showed me a way to tie the
laces so that my toes weren't smashing up against the front of the boot on my
descents. That actually helped but I had to re-tie as the laces would loosen
every several hours. What I didn't like about these boots was that I could feel
every single small rock I stepped on, and it hurt! To relieve some of my foot
pain I walked so that I transferred my weight to my quads. By the end of my
hike the bottoms of my feet ached and so did my thighs! These Keens are my
second pair of hiking boots, my first pair were Merrill's and they were too
narrow and I felt every small rock stepped on. Back at the trailhead I couldn't
wait to take my hiking boots off. I have to look for new hiking boots, perhaps
backpacking ones. And if they don't work, then maybe mountaineering boots. Trial
Overall, this hike was amazing! I would recommend the
loop to everyone hiking Flume/Liberty. But make certain you hike it during the
dry months. The Flume Slide Trail is very dangerous when wet or icy.
**Photos along the trail were taken with an iPhone
camera. The photos taken at the summits were taken with a Canon DSLR.
I spent the morning at The Flume Gorge located at the base of Mt. Liberty. The visitor's center is easy to find, located just off of I93 in the Franconia Notch State Park. At the center I bumped into an old friend, his wife and his son, and went on the self-guided 2-mile hike with them. The hike takes approximately one hour and 15 minutes but we took our time snapping many photos (I took a couple of vids) and overall it took us 2 hours. Sure, it's a short hike, but there are alot of features packed into this hike. I wasn't put off by the $13 entrance fee, especially after seeing how well-maintained the park is. Sorry for the somewhat dirty lens and blurry iPhone shots!