Trail: Liberty Springs Trail > Franconia Ridge Trail
Hours: 5:30 hiking; 7:15 total
August 11, 2018
Mt. Liberty (4,459’) and Mt. Flume (4,327’) are two 4,000-footers usually hiked together. It can be hiked as a loop or out and back, and both are about the same mileage. Both trailheads are easy to find. Park at the Flume visitor center in the furthest parking lot and get ready to hike!
NOTE: If you want to hike this as a loop, go up the Flume Slide Trail and down the Liberty Springs Trail. The Flume Slide Trail is a VERY difficult trail with incredibly steep rock scrambles, so I do not recommend descending it. We avoided the Flume Slide Trail altogether and ascended and descended the Liberty Springs Trail. Either way you decide to hike these mountains, the trail gains about 3,600 feet of elevation, so prepare your legs for some climbing!!
My wonderful friend Chelsea and I started the hike to Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume at 8:00 AM on a beautiful Saturday morning. Although it was humid, it was a low 70-degree day, so it was perfect for hiking! We wanted to get on the trail early because the forecast showed rain later in the day.
The first 0.9 miles of the hike was along a bike path, so we had to watch out for bikers!! People flew on this path, so we had to make sure we were paying attention. Most people let us know when they were approaching you, but others came out of nowhere. After we crossed a bridge and walked another 0.6 miles, we came to the junction of the Liberty Springs Trail and the Flume Slide Trail. If you want to do the loop, this is where you will want to keep right and ascend up Flume Slide Trail. Like I said above, we avoided that trail altogether, so we kept to the left and started on the Liberty Springs Trail.
The trail started off as a nice walk through the woods, but I hate to break it to you, it does not last long. After the first 0.5 miles, the stair climb began! The worst part of this trail was the tricks it played on us! We were climbing up, butt burning, and we kept seeing clearings and thought THERE’S A BREAK COMING!! But don’t you worry, once we turned the corner, the Stairmaster climb continued. This happened to us a few times. Eventually, we knew not to get our hopes up. We also met a woman who was completing the Appalachian Trail, who was going up this trail like a boss!! She was awesome and meeting her definitely motivated us to not complain.
The trail felt as if it would never end, but it will! I promise you will reach the summit eventually, so keep going! Eventually, we reached the Franconia Ridge Trail junction. If we hiked to the left, we could have hiked to Mt. Lafayette. However, we continued on the trail to the right for 0.3 miles to the summit of Mt. Liberty! There was only a small section of rock scrambling to the summit, which our butts and legs appreciated! Once we reached the summit, we knew the steep, brutal climb up was all worth it for the views! We had views of Franconia Notch, the Kancamagus Highway, and the Presidentials. It was an absolutely beautiful view. This was one of the best views I have seen on a White Mountain summit.
We reached Mt. Liberty’s summit at 10:30 AM and stayed for about 45 minutes before continuing on the Franconia Ridge Trail for 1.2 miles to Mt. Flume’s summit. The first part of the trail descended a bit down some rock scrambles and then seemed to continue to descend forever. This was the time where we needed to mentally prepare ourselves for some more stair stepping. About halfway through the trail, our ascent finally began! By the time we got to this part though, our legs wanted to fall off and run away. Our butts were on FIRE. It seemed like this 0.7-mile ascent was never ending! This hike was a tough one, but well worth it for the views. We eventually saw the end of the treeline and knew we made it to Mt. Flume’s summit! The views from Mt. Flume weren’t as spectacular as the ones from Mt. Liberty, but they were still beautiful. We got to the summit around 12:00 PM and hung out for a half hour to give our legs a rest and fuel our body for the descent.
After enjoying Mt. Flume’s views and the nice breeze, we began to make our way back to Mt. Liberty. The trail in between the two summits was evenly steep, so the way back wasn’t any less steep haha. But knowing this began our descent kept us motivated! The rock scrambles to the summit of Mt. Liberty seemed like a breeze after all of the stair stepping we conquered. We returned to the summit around 1:15 PM and decided to enjoy another half hour up here to enjoy these amazing views. Of course, someone had a drone that was as loud as an airplane taking off, so it took away from the peacefulness up there. We also noticed the dark clouds moving in from the south, so we decided to start our descent back to our car.
The descent always seems easier than the ascent, so we were flying down the trail. We met an awesome adventurous couple who became our descent partners! Chatting with them while hiking down made the time fly by! We made it back to our car in not time around 3:15 PM.
This trail was challenging! But it was awesome and rewarding. I can’t complain because we had AMAZING views from both summits on Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume. In my opinion, Mt. Liberty’s summit had the best views I have seen thus far. It may have also helped that the day was absolutely perfect (thank you Mother Nature).
Have you hiked Mt. Liberty and Mt. Flume? Did you hike up the Flume Slide Trail or avoid it like we did?