Franconia Falls Hike

By Mike Boisvert.

Long considered one of the best swimming spots in America, Franconia Falls is a 7 mile round-trip hike or bike through a piece of New Hampshire history.

This was advertised as a beginner hike, and I'd be hard pressed to find a better hike to a swimming hole. And there were quite a few first timers who had never been to Franconia Falls who showed up at eleven o'clock on Sunday morning. Besides myself and Jon (trip leaders), intrepid hikers Phil, Steve, Jerry, Bill, Joe, Dave , Ben, Bruce, David, Jonny and his dog Katahdin, Rich, Peter, Tiffany, Sue, and two guys from Bethlehem whose names I don’t remember. I need to start writing things down so I don't forget.

Umm. What was I writing about?

What? Oh, yes. Franconia Falls.

The terrain is built for beginners. We took the Lincoln Woods Trail, on the west side of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. After crossing the suspension bridge (and doing the mandatory hopping up and down to make it wiggle), we started off. The path followed an old railroad bed, and was wide and level. It once carried logging trains in and out of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

Scenery was graciously provided by the river and occasional views of mountains rising out of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. It was hot, hazy and humid-and spirits were high.

The beauty of Lincoln Woods is that even in a group, one can turn around and head back when starting to tire without any fear of getting lost.

We traveled all the way to Franconia Brook, where the Lincoln Woods Trail ends. From here the Wilderness trail heads into the...well, wilderness and the Franconia Falls trail heads to...you guessed it: Franconia Falls. This trail was narrower and steeper, and goes for about a third of a mile to the Falls, which are about 3.1 miles from the trailhead.

What makes Franconia Falls so special? This section of Franconia Brook has rocks forming graceful rounded patterns and the best natural waterslide around. All thanks to the carving made by the waters of the millennia.

Just up from the pool where the waterslide ends, in about 200 yards, are more chutes, pools and rocks for exploring. We hung out here for lunch -sunbathing and exploring. You won’t believe how pure the water is! Just plain spectacular!

We were lucky to have most of the area to ourselves before the busy tourist season when it gets heavy use. Starting the last weekend in June, the Forest Service starts limiting access to only 60 people by issuing permits.

There is something about walking with friends, old and new, in the great outdoors that makes one feel alive. Cares melt away, at least for a few hours. I always feel tired, but vitally refreshed after hiking.

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