Mount Lafayette Loop via Falling Waters Trail and Old Bridle Path
Falling Waters Trail:
This is one of the most popular hikes in the White Mountains, complete with waterfalls and a beautiful ridge trail. If you are planning on taking the Falling waters trail up Little Haystack Mountain (the most popular way) the trail starts fairly gradual crossing rivers a few times and passing multiple waterfalls. about 1.5 miles in, the trail becomes moderately steep and remains that way until you reach the summit. about 2.5 up you will reach a trail for Shining Rock, it is .1 miles off the main trail but in the early afternoon it is a amazing spectacle with water constantly flowing down and the suns rays beaming off. after the shining rock split it is about .5 miles to the summit and onto the ridge.
Note: If you take this trail down you will run into many groups of people having to stop and move over every few minuets.
Franconia Ridge Trail:
The ridge goes all the way from Little Haystack Mountain to Mount Lafayette and stopping at Mount Lincoln between the two. from Little Haystack Mountain to Mount Lincoln is .7 miles and gaining 300 vertical feet, with spectacular views on both sides. ascending to Lincoln's Peak is fairly easy surrounded by steep cliff's on either side (but with a wide enough trail for little to no danger) after making it to the top of Mount Lincoln you get your first view of Mount Lafayette which from this perspective looks very prominent. the trail over is 1 mile but very mild. on a clear day you can see Mount Washington which is the tallest mountain in the northeast. halfway across is Mount Truman, it serves little challenge but also has spectacular views. after gaining 240 feet from Mount Truman's peak to Mount Lafayette you have reached the highest point of the climb and the views do not disappoint. This is also the highest point in New Hampshire outside of the Presidential Mountains and the Fifth highest peak in New England. on a clear day you can even see Mount Mansfield.
Old Bridle Path: ascending down this 3.8 mile trail is gradual and full of sights. after 1.1 miles you reach The greenleaf Hut owned by the AMC and a popular place to spend the night for an opportunity to see a once and a lifetime sunrise or sunset. or simply stop in for a meal and cup of coffee. after the hut the remaining 2.7 miles is spend gradually trekking down, with an occasional rock surface to tackle this trail makes a nice and easy decent but does take a couple hours. looking left as the trail cuts in front of the mountains you get a first person view of the entire Franconia ridge from far below, on a clear day this is one of the most breathtaking sights in the whole White mountains. after that viewpoint you head back into the woods for about another mile until you reach back where you stated.
This is a very safe hike for kids, but it is physically demanding. Approaching this way also allows you to turn around early but still enjoy the waterfalls or little haystack peak if the full trek is too much.
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