Member Trip report
Mounts Flume and Liberty Loop Hike
On Saturday, November 11th, Robert and I met up at the Basin Parking Lot in Franconia Notch. It was about 8:30AM. We quickly got ready and we headed out 5 minutes later. The day started out very cold (20F) with some gusty winds and clearing skies (most of the peaks were clear, but initially there were clouds over Cannon and the northern part of Franconia Ridge).
We headed south from the parking lot on the bike path (Whitehouse Trail). As there was a coating of snow on the ground, the path was slippery in spots. We made it to the Liberty Spring Trail by 8:45 and headed into the woods. It appeared that a number of hikers had already been on the trail and we progressed quickly up to the trail junction with the Flume Slide Trail, which we encountered by 9:05. We turned onto this trail and again there were tracks, so there were other hikers in front of us. This trail meandered through the woods abit and in 10 minutes we came to a significant crossing of Flume Brook. The water crossing was complicated by ice-coated rocks in the brook, but we did well. After this there were a number of additional smaller crossings, which while easier, were still icy. By 10:30 we were at the bottom of the slide. This was more or less just a rocky trail at first and then it increasingly became icy, granite ledge. As the slide steepened it was mostly manageable, but there were a few spots where we had to circumvent the main slide through the woods. As we climbed higher, there were nice westward views of Mt. Moosilauke. At roughly 11:25 we had reached the top of the slide. From here the trail was still somewhat steep, but was broken up with some level areas. In about 15 minutes we had made it to the trail junction with the Osseo Trail. We met up with the group that had ascended ahead of us and as we were here, there were a good dozen other hikers coming up from Lincoln Woods. After a short rest, we continued onto the summit. It was a short stretch through the woods, before we dramatically popped out of the woods out onto narrow ledge with views of the rocky summit above and Mt. Liberty to the north. We continued to climb up to the top...reaching the summit of Mt. Flume (4328') at 11:50. It was quite crowded and we stayed for a few minutes before descending into the col. In the col we found a sunny spot and grabbed a bit to eat. While here Robert engaged with a couple of French Canadians, who had recently started hiking the White Mountains.
After our lunch, we pressed on for Mt. Liberty. The going was good, passing a number of hikers along the way, and by 12:20 we were beginning to ascend the peak. It took about 20 minutes more before we were popping out of the woods again with views back towards Mt. Flume. It only took a few more minutes to climb a short rocky section to the open summit of Mt. Liberty (4459'). The wind had died down abit and it was more pleasant to stand around. There were clear sweeping views again in all directions...Cannon and the Kinsman Ridge to the west and over the Pemigewasset Wilderness all the way to the Presidential Range. After about 10 minutes we started down and we reached the trail junction for the Liberty Spring Trail at 1PM. The trail down was moderately steep initially, but was manageable. Before reaching the junction with the Flume Slide Trail again, there was one tricky water crossing. Luckily, there was a large downed tree just upstream, which helped. We reached the Flume Slide Trail again by 2:20 and we were back at the bike path 15 minutes later. By 2:50 we were back at our cars at the Basin Parking Lot. We both got packed up and called it a day.
Despite the ominous frigid forecast, the temperatures were not that bad even at elevation and the clear skies provided spectacular views. Additionally, the Flume Slide was challenging, but well worth it despite the ice...and we did it without the need for additional traction! It was great to hike this trail so late in the season. Thanks to Robert for suggesting the hike and route!
Total mileage and elevation gain: 9.5 miles with approximately 3500 feet in cumulative elevation gain.
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