Mount Lincoln (5,089) And Mount Lafayette (5,260)

Are you considering hiking Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette, but aren’t sure where to start? Perhaps you want to grab some tips about the hike before you go?

Or maybe you want to know more about the hiking trail before deciding if it’s the one for you? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

Mount Lincoln (5,089) And Mount Lafayette (5,260)

When it comes to hiking, we know how anxious you can feel selecting a new trail. You don’t know what to expect, from the views to how steep the incline will be.

And try as you might, you can’t find the information that you need online. Quickly, you can become stressed, frustrated, and unsure if you should try a new trail or not. 

Well, no more! Today we are here to give you the answers you need. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about hiking Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette and pick up some tips along the way!

We will be sharing our hike with you and our experiences to help you prepare yourself and learn from it too!

Hike Details

Before we dive into the article, here are some details we think it’s worth knowing!

Trail – The trail consisted of three different paths/trails

  • Old Bridle Path
  • Falling Waters Trail
  • Franconia Ridge

Time – 6 hrs (5hrs hiking)
Distance – 8.8 miles
Level – Hard

Now that you can see the trail that we did and the time that it took us, let’s move on and cover some more information!

Hike Overview 

Mount Lincoln (5,089) and Mount Lafayette (5,260) are some of New Hampshire’s tallest mountains. They are ranked at numbers 6 and 7 respectively and often are hiked as a loop.

This loop is the most beautiful one you can do across New Hampshire, the views are sensational! It’s one that had been on our bucket list for a while, so ticking it off was extremely satisfying! 

Before we tell you about our journey, there are a few things worth noting. The first is that the hike to Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette is tough,

with gains of 4,000ft! The weather can also be unpredictable near the summits, so be sure to do your research before you set off! You don’t want to hike in a vest and shorts then get soaked to the bone! 

As the views are so stunning, this is a popular hike, so expect to see people. Also be expected to fight for a space, as there isn’t that much parking!

On weekends, the parking lot is usually full by 8 am! Usually, the parking by the Old Bridle Path is the most popular, so it’s worth checking out the Peabody Big Parking Lot at Cannon Mountain.

It’s a little further away, but there is a shuttle that for $5 will take you directly to the trailhead. Be mindful though that the shuttle only takes cash, so you will need some change! 

Now that we have brought you up to speed, let’s take a look at the hike itself!

Mount Lincoln (5,089) And Mount Lafayette (5,260)

Hiking Mount Lincoln And Mount Lafayette 

We completed the hike on a summer’s day last year on a weekday. If you can try to swing a day off mid-week, we recommend doing so.

The hike was far quieter and it meant that we could park with ease! The weather was dry with clear skies when we began our hike too, having checked the weather beforehand for a clear and sunny day. 

We were able to park at the Old Bridle Path trailhead without any issues at 8 AM. My partner had already completed the hike a few years ago but had clouds instead of the clear skies,

so we were looking forward to making the most of the wonderful views! We took a small rucksack with us filled with some snacks and plenty of water to avoid dehydration on our hike.

Remember, this can take up most of the day, so it’s best to be prepared! 

To start the hike, we walked along the Old Bridle Path for 0.2 miles. Then the trail splits and you can choose to hike to either summit.

If you go left, it takes 4 miles to reach Mount Lafayette in 4 miles. If you go right, you can follow the Falling Waters Trail and reach Mount Lincoln first which is what we did. We also wanted to see some waterfalls and make the most of our weekdays off! 

The initial mile or so of the Falling Waters Trail was easy and we got to see a waterfall! We stopped here for a quick drink break (and to take some pictures) and saw a few people also enjoying the views.

This trail is popular with waterfall fans and is certainly worth doing if you also like waterfalls. It’s best to go when it’s quieter though to avoid crowds and ensure that you can take some beautiful pictures and enjoy the views. 

Once you pass the waterfall, the next 1.5 miles are tough! You are climbing constantly up the Falling Waters Trail with hardly any flat sections to pause.

Honestly, it’s best to just power through this section and carry on climbing! Don’t try to rush this bit, as it’s a long hike and you don’t want to tire yourself out! Although, it did feel like our legs were going to fall off at one point! 

There is a rock staircase as part of the trail that certainly helps you when climbing! But keep with it and you will reach Little Haystack Mountain.

While this mountain is over 4,000 feet tall, it doesn’t make the 4,000 footers list as it stands just 200 feet above Franconia Ridge. A cruel technicality we think! 

If you enjoy views, you will enjoy looking out from Little Haystack! The views are spectacular. Again, we took a quick break to enjoy the views and have a little drink.

Then it was on for 0.7 miles across Franconia Ridge to Mount Lincoln. Franconia Ridge has some of the best views we thought!

It feels surreal when you are standing there, you would never think you are in New Hampshire! Once you have seen these views, it becomes clear why this hike is so popular. 

From here on, the hike was fairly level. There were a few areas of elevation until the final push to the summit. What surprised us was how quick this felt!

We reached the summit just after 11 am and only had to share it with two others! Compared to the crowded photos you see on the weekend, this was a wonderful bonus! 

Here we enjoyed a cheeky 30-minute break to eat some of our snacks and take in the views. Seeing the other mountains and how far we had climbed was wonderful,

it made the hard work worth it! As we went on a clear day, no clouds were disrupting our view of the White Mountains! 

Once the break was over, it was time for the 0.9-mile hike on Franconia Ridge to Mount Lafayette’s summit. We did feel a little tired here, but the views along the way helped us forget about our aching legs.

The wonderful views made the time pass quickly and in no time at all, we were at the final push for the summit. 

The push was incredibly tough, and we decided the best approach was just to plow through it as quickly as possible.

Again, take your time here, you don’t want to fall or tire yourself out too much. It was getting a little busier here too, so be mindful that you might need to dodge a few people when trying to reach the top. 

By the time we reached Mount Lafayette’s summit, it was noon and at least forty other people were there! It was far busier than Mount Lincoln’s summit so be mindful of this when planning your hike.

There were also loads of bugs, far more than we had seen on any other part of the trail, and seemed to swarm us as soon as we hit the summit! 

We weren’t able to get a bugless spot to eat our lunch, which means we didn’t stop for that long. Once we had quickly refueled, it was time to work our way down Greenleaf Trail. 

The descent was incredibly steep and it felt relentless! We were a lot slower here and it took ages just to travel 1 mile to the Greenleaf Hut.

Once there we took a 15-minute break to refuel our bodies. It’s worth noting that there was nowhere to refill water, so be sure that you take plenty to last the whole hike. 

After the hut, we began on the Old Bridle Path. It was quite hot here as most of the path is exposed with minimal shade.

During this part of the hike, we drank quite a lot as we walked to keep ourselves hydrated and energized. After the steep climbs earlier and with the tiredness setting in, the three miles on the Old Bridle Path were quite tough. 

People often refer to the Old Bridle Path as the toughest part of the trail, and I can see why. It feels never-ending and on a hot day, it’s hard to keep going!

Eventually, we were back at the junction after over an hour of solid hiking. The final 0.2 miles to the car passed quickly, but we think that was more to do with our desire to sit down and enjoy some AC! 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, our experience hiking Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette! It was a tough hike and certainly tricky in parts, but the views made it all worthwhile.

We think it’s worth hiking counterclockwise up Falling Waters Trail and down the Old Bridle Path to see the waterfalls before the crowds descend.

Remember to take plenty of water and take regular breaks to avoid exerting yourself and you are sure to have a fantastic time too!

Kevin Macey
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