June 24, 2024

10 Easy to Moderate Trails in Franconia Notch State Park

Hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains can be a great outdoor experience. However, there are some less strenuous hikes for the weekend outdoor enthusiast that don’t require death-threatening feats of gymnastics to reach a scenic Panorama. Franconia Notch State Park offers several hikes that will help you get crisp fresh air and a great daily step count without having to rappel down a cliff.

Some of the information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press tour, but all recommendations are my own.

Easy rated route in New Hampshire

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

Franconia Notch State Park

Located in the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park in Lincoln, New Hampshire, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Camping, swimming, fishing, hiking and other outdoor sports can be enjoyed throughout the park. Mother Nature’s spectacular scenery is on display no matter the season.

Pro tip: The park requires a nominal fee per person, a day use fee.

LL Bean Adventure and Learning Center equipment

LL Bean Adventure and Learning Center equipment

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

Appalachian Mountain Club

The IS Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has been fostering a relationship between hikers and the mountains for over a century — since 1876. Highland Centre. One major benefit of staying at the Highland Center is the LL Bean Adventure and Learning Center. Guests can borrow everything from hiking boots to rain gear and walking sticks to sleeping bags. It’s a free resource that can make all the difference in your hiking adventure enjoyment.

Nicole Zussman, President and CEO of the AMC, notes, “At the Appalachian Mountain Club, we believe the outdoors is for everyone. Around Franconia Notch, you have it all: trails that range from easy loops to steep ascents, free nature programs at AMC’s Highland Center at Crawford Notch, shuttle stops throughout the region, and group hikes and wilderness skills workshops led by AMC outdoor guides. Outdoor recreation, conservation, and education are lifelong passions, and AMC is committed to ensuring that people of all ages can ‘Be Outdoors’.”

Highland Center in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Highland Center in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

Tips For Hiking In Franconia Notch

Franconia Notch State Park offers hikers a wealth of easy, moderate and advanced hikes.

Sara DeLucia, AMC Guided Adventures Success Manager, offered the inside scoop on several easy and moderately rated trails in Franconia Notch State Park.

1. Franconia notch trail

Not to be confused with the Franconia Ridge Trail, Franconia notch path it is a point-to-point trail 8.7 miles long. Rated as a moderate climb, the trek is popular with cyclists. Also known as the Franconia Notch Recreational Trail, it runs through the state park offering nice views and stops along the way. A number of other paths through the park connect or cross the Recreational Trail.

Pro tip: The trail is paved and mostly flat. There are some steep sections along the route.

2. Roaring River Memorial Nature Trail

The IS Roaring River Memorial Nature Trail It is a gentle 0.3 mile walk in the woods. The track is more of a spot to stretch your legs than a walk. It is perfect for the non-hiker who wants to get out in nature for a few minutes.

3. The White House Corridor

The IS White House Corridor It’s a 1-mile, out-and-back hike that rewards you with a visit to the Pemigewasset River. To reach the river, cross the Franconia Notch State Park Recreation Trail and continue through the woods for about half a mile.

4. Rim Trail Loop Through Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway

The IS Edge Track Loop it can be accessed via the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway (see below). It is rated as an easy 0.4-mile hike that offers great views. Bring your binoculars; on a clear day, the view is beautiful.

5. Lonely Lake Trail

Lonesome Lake is a beautiful New Hampshire mountain lake. The IS Lonely Lake Trail It’s a tough but moderate walk of 4.6 miles around the lake and up to the AMC’s Lonely Lake Hut. At the hut, you can book an overnight room and dinner. Day hikers can stop for a break, buy snacks, and use the public restrooms.

Pro Tip: The steep incline uphill is easier with hiking poles.

A wooden walkway and steps along the Flume Gorge

A wooden walkway and steps along the Flume Gorge

Photo credit: Catuncia / Shutterstock.com

6. Flume Gorge Path

The Flume Gorge Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Franconia Notch State Park. The walk is 2 miles at AllTrails difficulty rating of moderate. It is a fun walk on mostly packed gravel and includes some uphill sections as well as stairs.

Pro Tip: Reservations should be made online to ensure a specific date and time for your visit.

7. Artist Bluff Trail

For moderate promotion, Artist Bluff Trail Offers spectacular views of Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch. The 1.5 mile loop has forgiving terrain.

Pro Tip: There is a large parking lot for visitors to the Artist Bluff Trail on Highway 18.

8. Bald Mountain

This short, 0.6 mile hike takes you to the summit of Bald Mountain. The climb requires a moderate rate of navigation on rocky sections; consider bringing your hiking poles.

DeLucia says that “Bald Mountain offers great views and extends the hike from Artist’s Bluff. It’s a bit longer with some steep sections.”

Pro Tip: Bald Mountain Trail shares a parking lot with Artist Bluff Trail.

9. Cascade Brook Trail

To hike part of the Appalachian Trail, plan a trip on the Cascade Brook Trail. Waterfalls, streams, and woodlands, everything you want from a hike.

DeLucia warns, “There is a challenging stream crossing that can make this a difficult route, especially after rain. We advise visitors to check footpath conditions before setting out and prepare an alternative route if a water crossing looks dangerous.”

10. Cascade Basin Trail

Linked to the Cascade Brook Trail, the Cascade Basin Trail is an easy walk with great rewards. The hike to the bay is easy and the geological features are very cool!

Daisies in New Hampshire

Daisies in New Hampshire

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

White Mountain Hiker Shuttles

A system of shuttle stops is the best way to get where you want to walk in the region. The IS White Mountain Hiker Shuttles it takes the guesswork out of finding parking at the trailheads, and for that matter, finding the trailheads themselves.

The shuttle service runs daily from June 1 to mid-September and then on weekends and holidays until the end of October. Reservations are strongly recommended; walks will be attended if space is available.

Pro Tip: DeLucia added, “If there’s a stop you don’t see on the schedule, you can set up a departure with the driver between scheduled stops.”

Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway

You can skip the whole walk and jump aboard the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. The 8-minute ride to the summit of Cannon Mountain is the easiest way to enjoy the beautiful panoramic views. On a clear day, riders can see mountain peaks in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York.

At the summit, there are walking paths, an observation deck, a cafeteria, and restrooms.

Pro Tip: There are savings when you book the Aerial Tramway before your visit.

AMC Trail Restoration Team

AMC Trail Restoration Team

Photo credit: Sandi Barrett

Franconia Ridge Trail Restoration

When you’re ready to tackle a long and difficult hike, the Franconia Ridge Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Franconia Notch. Due to the steep rise and distance of this hike, this is a very challenging hike with a hard rating for the hike.

The IS Franconia Ridge Trail Restoration Project repairing and improving the pavement. The project is being coordinated and managed by the AMC under the direction of the US Forest Service.

For more information on the trails in America’s best state parks, check out the 15 Best State Parks to Visit in the USA

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