Member Trip report
Mts Flume & Liberty Loop Hike
Trip Report/Photos from shep5
On Sunday, October 14th, I decided to head up to Franconia Notch and tackle Flume and Liberty using the Flume Slide. I arrived at the Basin Parking Lot at about 7:30AM and quickly got ready. The day started out cold with temperatures near freezing and mostly clear skies. It had snowed the prior day and I packed microspikes and extra layers (just in case).
At about 7:40AM, I headed south on the Whitehouse Trail, a paved multi-use path through the notch. In about 15 minutes I reached the trail junction for the Liberty Spring Trail (AT) and turned onto it...heading east. The trail began a gradual climb through the woods and by 8:10, I was at the junction for the Flume Slide Trail. I proceeded on this trail as it meandered southeast around the base of Mt. Liberty. This maintained a fairly level grade until I reached the Flume Brook at about 9AM. The trail crossed the brook a couple of times as it started a steady ascent of the drainage area off of Mt. Flume. In 20 minutes I was at the bottom of the slide. This was a good "stone" path for another 10 minutes, when the trail steepened up the rock and granite slabs/ledges. Surprisingly, the slide was fairly dry and I could climb without having to bypass any of these lower sections. At 9:40 I was starting to get views westward of Mt. Moosilauke. It was still cloud covered, but there were vibrant color in the valleys below. In another 10 minutes, I noticed ice formations where water was running down the ledges. With the wet leaf cover and the ice, there were a couple of tricky parts of the slide, where I couldn't get sufficient traction and I ended up using the herd paths around these sections. At 10:20, I climbed to an elevation, where there was a dusting of snow on the ground and spruce trees. In another 20 minutes I reached the top and joined the Osseo Trail just below the summit. It was quite windy, but the sun streaming through the trees felt good. Even though it was still cold, the snow on the trees was starting to melt. I took a short break here before hiking the short way to the summit. At 10:40 I broke treeline and was rewarded with a dramatic view across the notch and of the final bit of granite, which made up the peak. I was standing on the summit of Mt. Flume (4328') at 10:45. The views were wonderful in all directions, although clouds had covered Lincoln and Lafayette since the morning. I had the summit to myself, but with the strong winds and brisk temperatures, I didn't stay too long and after about 5 minutes, I decided to start down and proceed across the ridge.
The trail descended quickly back into the treeline and once out of the wind, things seemed to warm up somewhat. On the way down to the col I started to run into hikers, who were doing both peaks from Liberty Spring. I made good time across the ridge and after half-an-hour I reached an old area of blowdown, where there were still partial views back to Mt. Flume through the trees. I continued to climb at a steeper grade as I neared the Mt. Liberty. At 11:35, the trail emerged out onto ledges with good views over to the Bonds and back to Mt. Flume. It was just a short scrambled up to the summit (4459'), emerging out on the open peak 5 minutes later. The clouds had retreated off of the summits and the views were incredible...even Mt. Washington's summit was poking through a slight undercast around that peak. The winds had subsided quite a bit and I took a longer break while chatting with a few fellow hikers up here. At about noon, I began to descend off of the summit and back into the trees. A little further along the ridge, I ran into a work colleague and we caught up a bit...I had last run into him a couple of years ago on an early spring GO trip on Mt. Jefferson. By 12:15 I reached the junction for the Liberty Spring Trail and began my descent. This trail was initially somewhat steep and rocky, but after 15 minutes, all of the snow was gone from the trees and surrounding ground. It took me another hour to reach the brook crossing before reaching the trail junction for the Flume Slide Trail again. I ran into a English bloke living in the US, who I had passed on the ridge between the peaks. He had done the hike in the opposite direction and we chatted on the remaining part of the hike back down to the Whitehouse Trail. It was 1:45 and I headed north to get back to the Basin Parking Lot...reaching it again by 2PM.
What a beautiful autumn day despite the cold start! What wasn't to love...a classic loop hike around two open summits, a great slide to climb, peak color and the first snow up on the peaks!
Mileage and Elevation Gain: Approximately 9.3 - 9.5 miles with about 3500 feet cumulative elevation gain.
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